Friday, January 31, 2014

Shrek the Musical at RHS

Shrek at RHS: The ogre, the princess, smart-ass donkey, and big cast. Kids let their freak flags fly with clever songs and dancing.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Suburban Freeways

Eisenhower himself didn't realize the Interstate Highway System would cut through American cities until a few years after construction began. Ike had wanted a national road network like the one he'd seen in Germany during World War II. But he'd also wanted these roads to stop at the doorsteps of cities, not push right past.
Source: The Atlantic.
This story about the history of freeways in America is an old one. The notion that "the Interstate Highway System should have been two distinct systems: one running between cities, and another running within them" is almost conventional wisdom now. There's even a grassroots movement, "A New Dallas," that seeks to tear up one of that city's downtown freeways, IH345.

I'm sold on the vision. After the jump, does this apply to Richardson?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain Phillips (2013): Suspense relentlessly builds towards climax. Liberties? So what? Tom Hanks deserves Oscar nom with Barkhad Abdi. B+

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

District 102 and 112 Candidates: Your Pick

The six candidates for the GOP nomination for Texas House Districts 102 and 112 debated January 22 at a forum at the Canyon Creek Country Club. Vying to represent HD 102 were Stefani Carter (incumbent), Linda Koop, Adryana Boyne and Sam Brown. Vying to represent HD 112 were Angie Chen Button (incumbent) and Jared Patterson.

If you are a conservative Republican (is there any other kind?) you can safely take the rest of this primary season off. All six candidates were eager to make their case as the most conservative man or woman out there. All professed to be anti-tax, pro-life, anti-gay, and pro-gun. There are far more similarities than differences between these candidates.

But let's try to draw distinctions, anyway, shall we? After the jump, some highlights.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fort Worth Stock Show

From 2014 01 22 Ft Worth Stock Show

If I had a bucket list, somewhere on it would be the Fort Worth Stock Show. Oldest continual running livestock show and rodeo (1896). First indoor rodeo (1918). First Brahma bull riding (1933). First live television broadcast (1958). Attendance over a million people each year.

Finally, this year, I can check it off that mythical bucket list. Sure, it was a midweek visit. No rodeo. No animals (to speak of). No crowds. Still, you could get some of the flavor of what makes this a big draw. Everyone was friendly and, because of the lack of crowds, had the time and was willing to talk.

More photos after the jump.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grease at LHHS

Grease at Lake Highlands HS: Big and talented cast bring slicked hair, poodle skirts and sock hop to life with great singing, dancing, and tech.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Spectacular Now (2013)

Spectacular Now (2013): Party boy teaches nice girl confidence. In the end, he learns more himself. Simple, sweet story. Very well acted. B+

S2L77: Dubrovnik

Somewhere in Yugoslavia
April 28, 1977
We drove for four hours beyond Skopje as far as the bridge with a hole in it.

Somewhere else in Yugoslavia on the Adriatic Sea
April 30, 1977
Evening barbecue on the beach.
Source: Personal travel notes.

From 1977 04 29 Yugoslavia

In 1977, Yugoslavia was still united and stable. Driving up from Greece, it was impossible to know when you crossed from, say, Kosovo to Serbia to Bosnia to Herzegovina to Croatia. It was all just beautiful, peaceful, rural scenery. It's sad to think of all the violence and tragedy that small corner of the world has experienced.

Dubrovnik is a walled, medieval city on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic Sea. Everything about it, from its narrow cobblestone streets to its imposing fortress walls to its views of the sea, makes it a visual feast. Despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was not safe from the troubles that came with the breakup of Yugoslavia. It was shelled by Serbian forces during the Croatian War in 1991. Restoration was apparently successful as today Dubrovnik is used as the city of King's Landing in the HBO series "Game of Thrones." But all of this was in the future when I visited in 1977 and took these photos.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Recycling Styrofoam

City of Richardson
Recently, I offered my own suggestions to the City of Richardson for how to make recycling easier. That prompted Bill McCalpin to inform me (hat tip) that the city recently held a focus group, which generated its own suggestions:
  • Make recycling even easier by not having people try to read the tiny print on plastics to see which one it is, but just have people throw all of the plastic in, and have someone else sort it later.
  • Make the paper bags for yard waste freely available to landscapers.
The second suggestion matches my own, except I want the paper bags (or "green" plastic bags) freely available to homeowners, too. (I do my own yard work.)

The first suggestion was new to me. Frankly, it puzzled me. According to the City of Richardson website, "The items below can all be placed in the blue bags: Plastics #1-7 (excluding styrofoam), ..."

All plastics, #1-7, are accepted. That's all there is. So, if it's stamped with a recycling triangle, no matter what number is inside, it's one of those #1-7 recyclable plastics. There's no need to try to read the tiny print inside the triangle to see which one it is. Anyway, that's what I thought. Then I considered that magic asterisk, "excluding styrofoam."

After the jump, what's that all about?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Big Star (2012)

Big Star (2012): Documentary of obscure '70s cult band that lacked distribution, not talent. Movie needs more music and less talking. C+

Berkner Sweeps Lake Highlands

From 2014 01 21 Berkner vs Lake Highlands

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team swept their season home-and-away series against the Lake Highlands Wildcats with a 81-64 win Tuesday night at the Lake Highlands gym. With the win, the Rams retain sole possession of first place in District 9-5A, with a record of 7-1. It's a great time to be a Ram!

More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jared Patterson Sides with Terrorists

Jared Patterson sides with terrorists against the President.

What? Too much? Is that headline over the top? Inflammatory? Divisive? Juvenile? Yes, to all of the above. You'd hope that political discourse would be more respectful, searching for areas to work together to solve problems. You'd certainly hope that our would-be elected officials would set a good example. You'd be wrong.

Jared Patterson is running for Texas House District 112. He's a former Sachse city council member and is now seeking to replace Angie Chen Button in the Texas House. But he seems to be running more against President Obama than against Button. He's got a bit of a case of Obama Derangement Syndrome. He takes more cheap shots against the President than tell us how he'd solve problems with education, health care, water and transportation here in Texas.

After the jump, the Jared Patterson Facebook post that inspired the headline.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Stefani Carter's Friends are Few, But Rich

When last we looked, Stefani Carter appeared to be short of friends and money. Enough so that she decided to drop her bid for Railroad Commissioner and come back to Richardson to try to keep her District 102 House seat.

After the jump, a new look look at Carter's friend list.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This Is Not a Film (2011)

This Is Not a Film (2011): Iranian filmmaker banned from making movies, facing prison, turns camera on himself. More protest than art. C-

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Berkner: The End of a Winning Streak

From 2014 01 17 Skyline vs Berkner

The Berkner Rams' men's basketball team lost to the Skyline Raiders 65-62 Friday night in the Rams' gym. The defeat was the first district loss by the Rams since January 24, 2012 (Skyline 68-66), a winning streak of 24 games.

With the first half of the season now history, the Rams have sole possession of first place with a 6-1 record. There's a lot of basketball still to be played. Come on out and watch these talented young athletes put on a great show.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, January 17, 2014

S2L77: Not So Ancient Athens

From 1977 04 21 Greece
National Library of Greece

In the last installment, we toured ancient Athens. Today, we jump forward a millennium or two. Still in the past, but only a few decades and/or centuries. Practically yesterday, in other words.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Anna Karenina (2012)

Anna Karenina (2012): Sumptuous. Stylistic. Theatrical. Fans of Tolstoy won't like it, but if you must condense to 2 hrs, this will do. B-

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Showdown: Berkner at Richardson

From 2014 01 14 Berkner at Richardson

It was the battle of the unbeatens in District 9-5A men's basketball. Berkner and Richardson, both sporting 5-0 records, met Tuesday night at the Eagles' gym to determine who would take sole possession of first place in the district. The game was played as high school basketball should be played, before an enthusiastic full house cheering every score.

In a wild game, the Berkner Rams prevailed 66-63. The Rams led by eight during the first quarter and by two at the half, then the Eagles led by eleven in the third quarter before the Rams came storming back in the fourth quarter to win by three as Richardson's three point attempt at the buzzer fell short.

A sad note: with 57 seconds left in the game, there was a collision on the court. Berkner's Torey Everett fell to the floor hard, where he lay for twenty minutes before walking off the court on his own power, but he sat quietly on the bench for the final seconds of the game. Let's hope he recovers quickly and fully.

More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns
From The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson:
Open quote 

From the early years of the twentieth century to well past its middle age, nearly every black family in the American South, which meant nearly every black family in America, had a decision to make. ... Over the course of six decades, some six million black southerners left the land of their forefathers and fanned out across the country for an uncertain existence in nearly every other corner of America. The Great Migration would become a turning point in history."

After the jump, my review.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Survey Says: Recycle

The City of Richardson says it is committed to increasing recycling and wants residents' input to identify ways to improve the current recycling program. So, it's conducting a survey. Well, OK. The "survey" reads a little more like an advertising campaign to increase awareness of the existing recycling program, with questions like this:

Where do you currently get your blue bags? (Select all that apply.)
  • Purchase them at Heights Recreation Center
  • Purchase them at Huffhines Recreation Center
  • Purchase them at the Senior Center
  • Purchase them from City Hall
  • Purchase them from the Municipal Service Center
  • Redeem free offer listed in the Mayor's yearly residential recycling letter
  • Picked up free bags at the Trash Bash
  • Picked up free bags at the Cottonwood Art Festival
  • Picked up free bags at the Wildflower! Arts & Musical Festival
  • Picked up free bags at the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association (CPAAA) Recycling Day
  • Picked up free bags at Huffhines Art Trails event
  • Picked up free bags at City Wide Pet Day
  • Picked up free bags at the America Recycles Day
  • I purchase them from the grocery store

The city doesn't need the survey to find out the answer to this question. Surely, the city has better information about how many rolls of blue bags are distributed through each of these outlets than any information this unscientific survey is going to collect. But maybe some people taking the survey will learn about a different, more convenient outlet, so OK, I get it. (Not only do I get it, I did it myself -- I used my blog post to spread useful information. You're welcome, City of Richardson. ;-)

Where the city just might learn something from its survey is from the open ended questions, the fill-in-the-blank for what the city could do to make recycling easier. After the jump, my own answer.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Russian Ark (2002)

Russian Ark (2002): Fly-on-the-wall tour of Hermitage Museum. Balls, concerts, court come to life. All in single camera take. *Very* odd. B-

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rams Win Over W.T. White

From 2014 01 10 WT White vs Berkner

The Berkner Rams easily defeated the W.T. White Longhorns 78-54 Friday night at the Berkner gym. With the win, the Rams' district record improves to 5-0, while White drops to 2-3. It's a great time to be a Ram!

Elsewhere, the Richardson Eagles defeated the Skyline Raiders 60-43 to improve their record to 5-0, matching the Rams atop District 9-5A. A showdown between the two district leaders is scheduled for next Tuesday in the Richardson gym.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, January 10, 2014

OTBR: An Australian Paddock

Latitude: S 38° 19.980
Longitude: E 144° 13.308

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, January 9, 2014

Computer Chess (2013)

Computer Chess (2013): 1980s B/W documentary about computer chess tourney? No. Avant-garde. Surreal. Bergmanesque. Maybe watch it high. D+

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rams Roll Past Pearce

From 2014 01 07 Berkner vs Pearce

The Berkner Rams easily defeated the Pearce Mustangs 60-34 Tuesday night at the Pearce gym. With the win, the Rams' district record improves to 4-0, while Pearce drops to 1-3. It's a great time to be a Ram!

Elsewhere, the Richardson Eagles defeated the W.T. White Longhorns 58-44 to improve their district record to 4-0, matching the Rams atop District 9-5A.

More photos after the jump.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Richardson City Council Cuts Back its Schedule

If the council approves changes to its schedule, it would skip work sessions on fifth Mondays. In addition, the proposed schedule also would omit meetings on MLK Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Monday that falls during the Richardson and Plano school districts’ spring break, the Monday following Independence Day and the meetings that fall on the week of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

After the jump, four reasons why this is a good thing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013): Starships swim, garbage trucks fly, Kirk struts. Safe, formulaic, campy, non-stop bloodless violence. C+

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Basketball: Richardson 75, Lake Highlands 64

From 2014 01 03 Richardson vs Lake Highlands

Before a small crowd at Lake Highlands High School on Friday afternoon, the Richardson Eagles improved their district record to 3-0 with a 75-64 win over the Lake Highlands Wildcats, who dropped to 0-3.

More photos after the jump.

Friday, January 3, 2014

S2L77: Ancient Athens

From 1977 04 21 Greece

How much has ancient Athens changed in the last 35 years, compared to the 2,500 years before that? Dunno. I know some of the statues around the Parthenon have been moved to an indoor museum in Athens to protect them from air pollution (that is, those statues that weren't already carted off to the British Museum in London centuries ago). But beyond that, I'm not sure how the tourist experience is different at these sites. Do these photos look out of date in any way? If anyone who has been there recently has anything to add, let's hear it.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Repeat Tweets: Depp and DiCaprio Together

Repeat tweets from December, 2013:

  • 1 Dec 2013: What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993): Depp and DiCaprio together, back when they played ordinary, believable characters. Less is more. A-
  • 1 Dec 2013: With the losses by Skyline and Jesuit, District 9-5A is out of the football playoffs. It's now time for basketball to take center stage!
  • 4 Dec 2013: MT @SenTedCruz: "Restoring economic growth ought to be a bipartisan objective." So should ensuring every American has health care. #wacko
  • 5 Dec 2013: Headline: "Tom Pauken Drops Race For Governor." He finally realized that voters don't want a candidate whose top issue is the Vietnam War.
  • 6 Dec 2013: MT @ezraklein: "Unusually strong jobs report today. +203,000 jobs. Unemployment down for the right reasons." GOP blames Obamacare.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Auld Lang Syne: Jesuit 65, Berkner 68

From 2013 12 31 Jesuit vs Berkner

The Berkner Rams men's basketball team bid goodbye to 2013 with an always close 68-65 win over the Jesuit Rangers on the afternoon before New Year's Day at the Berkner gym. It's a great time to be a Ram!

More photos after the jump.