Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Oscar Snubs

The 2021 Oscar nominations, as always, snub some worthy movies. Before these movies unloved by Oscar are forgotten forever, here are some, in no particular order, that The Wheel recommends catching wherever they are streaming. These movies received an "A-" grade by The Wheel.

The snubs are after the jump.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Richardson's Uncomfortable Truth

Last week we saw how Richardson City Council member Kyle Kepner endorsed two other candidates for no other reason than they are Republicans, in possible violation of the City of Richardson's Code of Ethics, which calls for a policy of maintaining a nonpartisan city council. Kepner also endorsed four candidates for Plano ISD school board because they were endorsed by the Collin County Republican Party. That leads us to an uncomfortable truth about our city that voters must confront. The truth was spelled out by none other than Kyle Kepner himself, in an answer to a candidate questionaire from The Dallas Morning News when he first ran for Richardson City Council in 2019.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Readin', Ritin', and Republican

Richardson City Council member Kyle Kepner injected party politics into the nonpartisan city council race. That was bad enough, but then he compounded his error. I don't know which is more annoying to me, people making endorsements based on political party affiliation, or city council members endorsing in school board races (or vice versa). Today we examine Kyle Kepner's twofer.

Friday, April 9, 2021

City Council Member Again. Gullible? Reckless?

Yesterday, I charged Richardson City Council member Kyle Kepner with violating the city's Code of Ethics by failing to maintain the city council as a nonpartisan body, when he endorsed two other council candidates for the sole reason that they are Republicans. He has since apologized...with a lot of extraneous word salad to go along with the meat and potatoes. To loosely paraphrase the original statement and the apology:
The sky is blue.
It was not my intention to give the impression that I believe the sky is any particular color. Besides, I'm the real victim here. They ganged up on me in 2019.

Eventually he gets to the meat of his apology. I accept him at his word when he says, "I made a mistake, and I am sorry...Please accept my apologies. I promise to learn from this and do better."

So let's take him at his word and accept the apology. Besides, there's another social media comment Kyle Kepner made on another subject altogether that needs attention. The subject is the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. Kepner's response raises the question, "Is Kyle Kepner too gullible or too reckless to serve on City Council?"

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Upping the Charges against a City Council Member

Yesterday, I charged a Richardson City Council member with violating the norms and customs of remaining nonpartisan in city council elections. Current council member Kyle Kepner endorsed two other council candidates for the sole reason that they are Republicans. Today, I up the charge.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Partisan NonPartisan Elections, 2021 Edition

The Richardson City Council elections are officially nonpartisan, meaning no political party affiliation appears on the ballots. Traditionally, political parties steered clear of endorsements and campaigning. Those traditions are breaking down. Here's what I said about it in 2019.
The Richardson City Council elections in 2019 laid a muddy trail along the same lines, only with Democratic state representative Ana-Maria Ramos and Democratic Party affiliated groups working (and failing) to elect an unofficial slate of candidates for Richardson City Council. I won't be surprised if that trend continues in 2021 and my own appeals to keep local elections nonpartisan look even more like a cry in the wilderness than they did then.
Source: The Wheel.

Billions - Season 1 (TV 2016)

Rotten Tomatoes
Billions - Season 1 (TV 2016): US attorney goes after hedge fund billionaire. Flips old adage on its head: it's not business, it's strictly personal. Manipulating both is a woman, a smart woman (and sexy for the gratuitous kinky sex scenes). Shallow plot slowly deepens, a bit. B-

Four more seasons queued up to watch.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Godzilla vs Kong (2021): Hollow Earth. Gravity inversion. Super energy. We came for the brawl, not this yada, yada. And why, when you have two heavyweight titans, would you introduce a third titan to the fight? Too long. Little dramatic buildup to a nothing climax. Who won? C-

Monday, April 5, 2021

POTD: Resting Place of Kings

From 2019 11 24 Egyptian Museum
Thuya's outer coffin, 18th Dynasty, ca 1375 BCE

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Or perhaps I should call it the old Egyptian Museum. According to a story in Saturday's Washington Post, "It was a parade unlike any other this city has seen. A procession of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies streamed Saturday from downtown a new museum three miles away that represents Egypt’s future as much as its past."

Today's photo-of-the-day was taken in the old museum. It shows one of many, many ancient royal coffins on display in the crowded, old museum, along many other artifacts. There is a separate room with the royal mummies themselves (photographs not allowed). The mummified kings are jammed side by side and head to toe. The new museum will have room to more respectfully present these ancient kings, but I'll regret their departure from the 19th century museum. It had the look and feel that an old, haunted museum has in my imagination. We drove by the new museum, under construction at the time, and I fear visiting it will be more like a Disney experience. Long live the old.

Small Axe: Education (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Small Axe: Education (TV 2020): West Indian boy in London in 1980s, getting substandard education, is reassigned to a "special" school where education is even worse. Racism at work. Vicious cycle until members of the community begin a Saturday school. Frustrating but hopeful. B-

See my review of the previous movie in this limited series: "Small Axe: Alex Wheatle".

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Father (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Father (2020): Woman deals with her aging father. Characters come and go, scenes repeat, each time slightly differently, until you aren't sure if you are seeing reality or the world through the father's dementia. Deserved Oscar noms for Olivia Coleman and Anthony Hopkins. B+

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: 43,909. A Stake in the Ground.

Tweets from March, 2021:
  • 2021-03-02: 516,346. In Texas, 43,909. Might as well put a stake in the ground to mark where we were when Abbott declared the pandemic was over in Texas.
  • 2021-03-02: With this action, Texas GOP forfeits any claim to be pro-life.
  • 2021-03-03: GOP cancel culture strikes a blow against mean tweets, unironically.
  • 2021-03-03: North Texas GOP didn't want her for Texas House. Now north Texas GOP doesn't want her for US House. Katrina Pierson is failing at a higher level now.

After the jump, more random thoughts.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Made You Look (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Made You Look (2021): Documentary about art dealer who sold fakes for millions of dollars. Despite all the red flags, she says she believed the works were genuine. Collectors trusted her. Scary how gullible everyone was. Even after the con collapsed, few people seem upset. B-

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Time (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Time (2020): Oscar nominated documentary. Videos taken over 20 years by wife of a man sentenced to 60 years for robbery. He did it. She did too (she got 5 years). Their kids suffered because of it. America's mass incarceration is unjust, but this movie is not the best example. C+

Monday, March 29, 2021

Change Needed in Richardson's Social Media Policy

I applaud Kyle Kepner for using Facebook to discuss with the community this issue which is reasonably likely to be considered by the city council in the near future. But I'm curious how such discussion isn't a violation of the City's social media policy: "officials are prohibited from making any statements on social media regarding any individual, entity or issue which is reasonably likely to be considered by the body on which the official serves."

My recommendation is that the City revoke this gag order from its social media policy. Social Media Policy: (Exhibit A, pgs. 85-87)

Promising Young Woman (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Promising Young Woman (2020): Woman whose best friend was raped seeks revenge. Kind of a #MeToo vigilante justice mission targeting men who take advantage of drunk women. A thriller and a psychological study of an extreme response to grief. Great acting by Carey Mulligan. B+

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Backlash to Inclusion in RISD Is Strong

A mother in Richardson ISD posted this flyer on Facebook, saying that it was put up at a junior high school in RISD, then added, "My 11 year old asked why aren’t whites and Asians welcome." In 24 hours, the post has attracted 455 comments. Backlash to inclusion in RISD is strong.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Behind Her Eyes (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Behind Her Eyes (TV 2021): Is it a drama about a love triangle (or two)? Or a sci-fi story about dream worlds and astral projection? Or a whodunnit mystery? Well OK then. It's hard to know who to root for. Slow to develop, it finishes in a whoosh. Well-crafted in all respects. B+

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Small Axe: Alex Wheatle (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Small Axe: Alex Wheatle (TV 2021): Back story of English-Jamaican author Alex Wheatle, abandoned as a baby, grew up in government homes, jailed for participation in 1981 Brixton riot, where he discovered books from a Rastafarian cellmate. Equal parts frustrating and inspiring. B-

See my review of the previous movie in this limited series: "Small Axe: Red, White and Blue".

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Nomadland (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Nomadland (2020): Frances McDormand plays a restless woman traveling the American West, living in her van, taking seasonal jobs, meeting others like her. Character driven. More documentary than drama. Poetry, not prose. You can't know America without knowing this movie. B+

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021): The 4 hr director's cut. A quest to keep 3 "Mother Boxes" (not "Infinity Stones") from uniting and destroying the universe. Lots more characters than dialog. Lots of hand-to-hand combat. Can't superheroes plan any more complicated strategy? C+

Monday, March 22, 2021

Sound of Metal (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Sound of Metal (2020): Rock drummer must deal with sudden deafness. It's not a punk-metal movie. Riz Ahmed's acting brilliantly captures the five stages of grief. Movie's sound brilliantly captures the experience from drummer's perspective. Some nice supporting roles, too. B+

Saturday, March 20, 2021

TIL: The Conservation of Religion

The political theorist Samuel Goldman talked about what he called "the law of the conservation of religion." In The Atlantic, Shadi Hamid defines the law as, "In any given society, there is a relatively constant and finite supply of religious conviction. What varies is how and where it is expressed."

Here's where it gets interesting. Shahid makes the case that religious conviction in America is being replaced by political conviction.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Review: Caste

From Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson:

Open quote I'd been writing about a stigmatized people, six million of them, who were seeking freedom from the caste system in the South, only to discover that the hierarchy followed them wherever they went, much in the way that the shadow of caste, I would soon discover, follows Indians in their own global diaspora." Caste

Americans think they know what caste is. It's the social stratification of society in India. Isabel Wilkerson compares and contrasts with its American cousin (slavery, Jim Crow, racism) and German Nazism. This work offers a new way of seeing an old evil.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Small Axe: Red, White and Blue (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Small Axe: Red, White and Blue (TV 2021): British-Jamaican joins London police in attempt to fight police racism from the inside. John Boyega tries, but does he only alienate family and community? It's infuriating to see racism in authority and feel powerless to stop it. B-

See my review of the previous movie in this limited series: "Small Axe: Lovers Rock".

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Minari (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Minari (2020): Korean family moves from California to a farm in Arkansas, seeking a better life. Movie avoids the predictable plot devices in favor of letting us watch the struggles of a typical American family. Quiet, touching, life-reaffirming without being over-sentimental. B+

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Miss Scarlet & the Duke (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Miss Scarlet & the Duke (TV 2021): Victorian era woman takes over father's detective agency when he dies suddenly. She faces sexism and professional jealousy from the Duke. Of course the woman is smarter than any man. Mysteries satisfy. Good job at refreshing an old genre. B-

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Dig (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Dig (2021): A love story of sorts based on real life. In 1939 Suffolk, a widow hires an excavator to dig up mounds on her farm, finding Anglo-Saxon treasure. That leads to more people and two love triangles, plot details that detract from this understated and lovely movie. B-

Friday, March 12, 2021

Chief Spivey Should Go

It seemed like a routine traffic stop, so Neco Bonham asked the officer why he wanted him out of the pickup truck.

Instead of an answer, the 18-year-old received an electric jolt from a Taser, punches to the head and handcuffs during the December 2018 incident, court records show.

It took the Richardson police officer about 15 seconds to escalate the encounter into a violent use of force, said Bonham’s lawyer.

Small Axe: Lovers Rock (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Small Axe: Lovers Rock (TV 2020): One night at a house party in London in 1980, where Jamaicans slow dance to a reggae blues beat. Short, at 68 minutes. Not much plot beyond girl meets boy, but a whole lot of mood. It's enchanting as camera weaves among dancers and singers. B-

See my review of the first movie in this limited series: "Small Axe: Mangrove".

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Long View

It's been said that the 20th Century was the American Century. World War I saw the collapse of all the great European empires. Even England and France, which were victorious in war, emerged as much weaker nations. America was on the rise. It was challenged by Japan and Germany (again), but those countries were utterly devastated by World War II, leaving America and Russia competing in a Cold War for leadership in a bipoplar world. The collapse of the Soviet Empire at the end of the century left America unchallenged as the only tentpole left in a unipolar world. Americans could be forgiven for thinking that the 21st Century would be the second American Century. But then, as it often does, shit happened.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Tom & Jerry (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Tom & Jerry (2021): Movie suffers when Tom & Jerry aren't on the screen. Live action story about a hotel wedding doomed less by the cat and mouse hijinks than by the couple's incompatbility, which kids won't get and adults will find boring. Watch a classic cartoon instead. D+

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Taking Out of Context RISD Candidates For District 1

Community Impact Richardson asked the candidates running for Richardson ISD's District 1 board seat several questions. I want to highlight a few words of their answers that most caught my attention. Excerpts, by their nature, take words out of context. No attempt is being made to twist the meaning of the full answers. Read the full answers at Community Impact Richardson and judge for yourself.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Coming 2 America (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Coming 2 America (2021): African prince faces succession arguments with his American son, his daughter, and a rival dictator. Cast is full of big name stars. There are few crude or sophomoric jokes. Watchable; not as bad as feared. The big musical numbers are very good. C+

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Taking Out of Context CoR Candidates For Place 4

Community Impact Richardson asked the candidates running for Richardson's Place 4 City Council seat several questions. I want to highlight a few words of their answers that most caught my attention. Excerpts, by their nature, take words out of context. No attempt is being made to twist the meaning of the full answers. Read the full answers at Community Impact Richardson and judge for yourself.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Taking Out of Context CoR Candidates for Place 6

Community Impact Richardson asked several questions of the candidates running for Richardson's Place 6 City Council seat. I want to highlight a few words of their answers that most caught my attention. Excerpts, by their nature, take words out of context. No attempt is being made to twist the meaning of the full answers. Read the full answers at Community Impact Richardson and judge for yourself.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

POTD: Ferry to the Temple of Philae

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Temple of Philae. The Aswan High Dam was not the first dam built on the upper Nile, and Abu Simbel was not the first temple flooded. The Aswan Low Dam was built by the British in 1902, a little distance down river from where the future High Dam was constructed. The Low Dam itself began flooding temples, but intermittently during the year. Finally, in the 1960s, a UNESCO project to relocate the Temple of Philae to higher ground was undertaken. It was moved about 500 meters to the higher island of Agilkia. Today, as ever, the temple is reachable only by boat. It's just on a different island.

Another photo after the jump.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

It's a Sin (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
It's a Sin (TV 2021): London flatmates in 1980s face the onset of AIDS. Equal parts joy (of coming out among supportive friends) and sadness (AIDS was a death sentence in 1980s). No preaching, no politicking, just drama, with focus always on the friends. Great ensemble cast. A+

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Taking Out of Context RISD Candidates for Place 7

According to the Advocate Lake Highlands:
Lake Highlands Blue hosted a forum Thursday night for candidates seeking to become the District 7 at-large trustee for Richardson ISD. Six of the seven candidates attended the virtual event: Amanda Clair, Nicole Foster, Nick LaGrassa, Chris Poteet, Blake Sawyer and Eric Stengel. Gavin Haynes did not participate.

As far as I know, video of the forum is not available to the general public. But the Advocate Lake Highlands helpfully published a transcript of the candidates' answers to three questions (edited for clarity and brevity). I want to highlight a few of the sound bites that most caught my attention. Sound bites, by their nature, take words out of context. Read the full answers at the Advocate Lake Highlands to see the context of these sound bites. Also, keep in mind that for many of these candidates, this is their first run for elective office. They probably have little experience with extemporaneous speaking. These are the answers that I suggest they work on. No doubt they will get more polished by election day.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: Myanmar loses, no matter who wins.

Tweets from February, 2021:
  • 2021-02-01: On one side, there's a coup by people claiming election fraud. Sound familiar? On the other, there's Myanmar's detained leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who defended Burmese military against allegations of genocide against the Rohingya people. Myanmar loses, no matter who wins.
  • 2021-02-01: Headline: "10 GOP senators want deal." Assuming they are sincere, this still implies 40 GOP senators don't want any deal. What does that say about our democracy's legislative process? Without deal-making, there is no unity, which is what the GOP professes to want.
  • 2021-02-02: Big Little Lies - Seasons 1-2 (TV 2017-2019): Five women with kids in a wealthy Monterrey private school deal with bullying, spousal abuse, infidelity, bankruptcy, rape. At heart it's a dark soap opera, but it's fun watching these great actresses work with each other. A-
  • 2021-02-05: QOP: not all of them are anti-democracy, but on balance, it's now the party of QAnon.
  • 2021-02-05: No longer needing to woo the GOP's base is freeing. "Mitt Romney Has a Child Allowance Plan (and It's Better Than Biden's)"

After the jump, more random thoughts.

Friday, February 26, 2021

POTD: Entrance to Nefertari's Temple

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the entrance to the temple of Nefertari, the wife of Ramsesses the Great, in Abu Simbel, south of Aswan, Egypt. The temple is located about 100 meters from the temple to Ramesses the Great.

Bonus photo from inside the temple after the jump.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Of Bonds and Taxes

The Richardson ISD is asking voters to approve a bond issue for capital projects. The subject is confusing enough without people using confusing language to talk about the bond. And by people I mean both the state legislature and school board candidates themselves.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Lady and the Dale (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lady and the Dale (TV 2021): Documentary about a con artist who claims to be the next Henry Ford, launching a 3-wheeled car with fatal design flaws. Oh, and she's a transgender woman. How did I never hear this story? Movie never finds the right balance to the many angles. B-

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

POTD: Panorama of Abu Simbel Temples

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from Abu Simbel south of Aswan, Egypt. It's a panoramic view of the two temples there, one to Pharaoh Ramesses the Great and the other to his consort Nefertari. The "cliffs" they are set into were articially constructed in the 1960s when the temples were moved from their original locations due to rising waters caused by the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Care a Lot (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
I Care a Lot (2021): Rosamund Pike is a scam artist who preys on seniors. She accidentally crosses Peter Dinklage, a Russian drug dealer. The fight between them grows deadly. The plot is full of holes. Many dumb decisions are made by supposedly smart people. Still, watchable. C+

Saturday, February 20, 2021

When it Rains, It Pours

When I tried to get some sympathy from my family for my plight with the Great Freeze of 2021, I received this response from my son living in tropical Jakarta, Indonesia:

"Meanwhile I'm in shelter at a friend's house due to massive flooding in Jakarta. I'm fine but will likely have to spend a day or so here for the water to clear. I wasn't at home when the flood happened. I had to walk through waist deep water to get to my friend's apartment and he graciously put us up until the water goes down. There are multiple cars stranded and barely visible above the water. Can't drive on the roads at all now."

So, yeah, there's that.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Deep Freeze of 2021

We all thought 2020 was bad, but it looks like 2021 sucks, too. Friday is the first day in a week that the weather forecast has our north Texas temperatures climbing above freezing. Sunday and Monday nights, the low temperature hovered about zero degrees Fahrenheit. Someone said that in Minnesota, they call that "sweater weather," but in Texas, it's a crisis. Our house escaped damage, but all around us it was like every disaster movie all rolled into one. Start with the background of an ongoing pandemic, and layer on top record-low, sub-zero Fahrenheit temps, icy and snowy roads, power outages lasting for hours or even days for some, frozen and burst pipes, only to flood when the heat comes back on, and warnings to boil water because water treatment plants lost power. Almost everyone we know is facing one or more of these, but we personally have been spared. For many, they still can't go home. The cleanup has only just begun.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021): Fred Hampton and FBI plant in Chicago Black Panthers. No heroes, only villains and victims. Movie lacks dramatic tension between the two title leads. Police and FBI take deserved hit to their reputation. 50 years on, it's the same old shit. B+

Compare this with "The Trial of the Chicago 7", another recent movie that includes Fred Hampton, but in a small role. American justice system still needs a lot of reform.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020): Dramatization of the trial of protesters at Democratic National Convention in 1968, a stain on American justice. Compare with the recent impeachment trial, another stain on justice. No standouts, but lots of big names in the ensemble cast. A-

Compare this with "Small Axe: Mangrove", another recent movie about a trial of protesters from the same time period, but in London. If American and British justice systems are the best the world has to offer, we have a lot of work still needed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Small Axe: Mangrove (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Small Axe: Mangrove (TV 2020): Dramatization of West Indies Londoner who opens a restaurant and faces harrassment by racist police. When the community protests, nine are arrested and put on trial for rioting. Characters are forgettable, but this history from 1970 shouldn't be. B+

Monday, February 15, 2021

Doubling Down on a Dealbreaker Question

The ballots are now set. It's time to start winnowing the fields. On January 7, I wrote:
Don't tell me that Richardson politics should be kept separate from what's happening in Washington, DC. American democracy hangs in the balance. Local democracy can't survive if our national democracy fails. So, first things first. Before I can turn my attention to zoning issues, property or school taxes, bond elections, or any of the usual school and city issues, I need to know what, if anything, all of these local candidates think about the attempted coup in Washington, DC. I want to ask them if they support the President in his attempt to overturn the election.

A person can't support democracy locally and what Trump is doing nationally. And I can't support anyone who can't state that clearly. So, to all the local candidates: do you condemn Trump fanning the flames of insurrection at the US Capitol? No dodgy, cagey, duplicitous answers allowed. Give me a straight answer. Then I might listen to the usual Richardson politics and your appeal for my vote.

Source: The Wheel.
Only one candidate in a contested race for City of Richardson City Council answered. (Thank you, Joe Corcoran. Mayor Paul Voelker also answered me, and Bob Dubey answered a similar question posed by someone else.) No one from a contested race for Richardson ISD Board of Trustees answered. I still consider the wrong answer to the question whether a candidate supports President Trump's attempt to overthrow the election, to be a dealbreaker for me. Silence on the question is also a dealbreaker. I consider it that important for our democracy and our republic.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

POTD: Be My Valentine

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Dallas Museum of Art. It's a detail from Alex Da Corte's neon ghost house, "Rubber Pencil Devil" ("2018, glass, aluminum, vinyl, velvet, neon, Plexiglas, high res digital video, color, sound"). It's part of the exhibition "For a Dreamer of Houses".

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Search Party - Season 1 (TV 2016)

Rotten Tomatoes
Search Party - Season 1 (TV 2016): Obsessed woman enlists friends to solve the disappearance of an old school acquaintance. Her search leads to a stalker and a sinister cult. It's a black comedy, with little comedy or even blackness, but with lots of stupid decisions. C+


Despite my bad review, we will probably watch season 2 (and maybe even seasons 3 and 4).

Thursday, February 11, 2021

POTD: Artificial Cliff at Abu Simbel

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the entrance to the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel south of Aswan, Egypt. It's looking "next door" at the Temple of his consort Nefertari. That temple's entrance, not visible in the photo, is around the cliff to the right in the photo. The photo shows instead the artificial cliff that was built to hold Nefertari's temple, which was moved from its original location due to rising waters caused by the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Giri/Haji (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Giri/Haji (TV 2019): Brothers (a cop and a gangster), get mixed up in a gang war in Tokyo that spreads to London. There's plenty of stylized violence, but it's the many rich relationships, not just between the brothers, that make this special. Like a Shakespearean tragedy. A+


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

POTD: Inside the Temple of Ramesses the Great

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel south of Aswan, Egypt. It's a view of inside the temple, which was carved into the cliff on the shores of the Nile River. When rising waters caused by the construction of the Aswan High Dam threatened the temples, the cliff was excavated to allow relocation of the temples. It wasn't just the massive statues outside the temple that were moved. The entire cave-like inside of the temples were dug out and moved, too. It was a feat almost as impressive as the temples themselvs.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Little Things (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Little Things (2021): Two cops join forces to solve a serial murder. Rami is warned about working with Denzel, the old cop. Jared Leto is the suspect. Good actors are let down by a pedestrian (and derivative) script. What can't be called suspense builds to little payoff. B-

Friday, February 5, 2021

POTD: Exactly Recreating Ruins

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel on the Nile River south of Aswan, Egypt. Before the Aswan High Dam flooded the Nile River valley, archaeologists carefully cut the temple into blocks, moved it 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river, and just as carefully reconstructed it. Because the temples were already 3,300 years old, they weren't in pristine condition. Rather than recreate the temples as they were when first built, archaeologists recreated them as they were in the 1960s, when the rescue operation occurred. Thus, the big block that calved off one of the four giant statues of Ramesses on the front of the temple was replaced at the foot of the statue, exactly where it had fallen millennia ago.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

POTD: Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel

At the Foot of the Pharaoh
From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel on the Nile River south of Aswan, Egypt. If you tour Egypt, you will become very familiar with Ramesses the Great, perhaps the greatest of Egypt's many, many, many pharaohs. More about that later.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

TIL: "Aggressive tyrannies"

It was an epidemic. A serious respiratory disease was killing thousands. A doctor proposes steps to gain control of the spreading contagion. He calls for wearing face masks, reporting victims to the health department, isolating them from others, and tracking their contacts. Others resisted, calling the proposals "aggressive tyrannies" and "offensively dictatorial." Sound familiar? But this wasn't America in 2020 and it wasn't COVID-19. The year was 1897. The place was New York City. The disease was tuberculosis. What happened is instructive for us today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Big Little Lies - Seasons 1-2 (TV 2017-2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Big Little Lies - Seasons 1-2 (TV 2017-2019): Five women with kids in a wealthy Monterrey private school deal with bullying, spousal abuse, infidelity, bankruptcy, rape. At heart it's a dark soap opera, but it's fun watching these great actresses work with each other. A-


Monday, February 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: Hawley/Gohmert 2024

Tweets from January, 2021:
  • 2021-01-01: Hawley/Gohmert 2024.
  • 2021-01-02: About time. Only 155 years late to do the right thing.
  • 2021-01-03: There's always a tweet. These two from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump from the 2016 GOP primary. They haven't aged well.
  • 2021-01-04: Bridgerton (TV 2020): 1800s costume drama. Pouts and swoons. No racism in this England, but lots of sexism. Too many singles looking for proper matches. All prigs. A vow of revenge made by the Duke to his dying father proves a barrier to happiness. Who cares? Only the prig. C-

After the jump, more random thoughts.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: The New Wilderness

From The New Wilderness, by Diane Cook:

Open quote Glen was the one who knew about the study, putting people in the Wilderness State. When things worsened in the City and Agnes’s health cratered, like so many children’s had, Glen was the one who offered his help to the researchers in exchange for three spots—for him, Bea, and Agnes." The New Wilderness

When the City becomes unlivable, people seek permission to live nomadic lives in the wilderness. It's a hard life, but return to the City is unthinkable. A coming-of-age adventure for a girl who struggles with her mother, budding love, and survival.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lupin (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Lupin (TV 2021): French. Burglar inspired by 100-yr-old novel seeks revenge for injustice done to his father 25 years before. He steals a priceless necklace from the Louvre. Heists. Action. Lovable rogue. At heart is Lupin's relationship with his own son. Story is incomplete. B+

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

POTD: Abu Simbel

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Abu Simbel on the shores of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt. The construction of the Aswan High Dam that created Lake Nasser in the 1960s also flooded more than a dozen ancient Egyptian temples. Before the floodwaters could reach the Abu Simbel temples, "the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, averaging 20 tons), dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history."

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The White Tiger (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The White Tiger (2021): A lower-caste Indian grows up wanting to rise above his servant caste. He talks his way into being a driver for a rich man. But a betrayal convinces him that being a loyal servant won't protect him. Hero or anti-hero? A good insight into modern India. B+

Monday, January 25, 2021

Owens Farm Redevelopment

Spring Creek Farm

It's been seven years since Owens Farm closed. That was plenty of time for the city and neighbors to solve the problem of what would replace it. Why we always wait until a property sells before paying attention to it is frustrating. I blogged about it in 2013. I don't think that post ages all that well (meaning I didn't set my hair on fire sounding the alarm). I guessed that developers would try to build an office building or an apartment building. I didn't guess it would be warehouses. Don't we have a whole warehouse district just to the southwest that we're trying to figure out how to redevelop? Why doesn't the left hand know what the right hand is doing?