Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who is Stefani Carter Carrying Water For Now?

What do exotic animal ranches, North Texas' need for water, money, and politics all have in common? Give yourself 100 points if you guessed Richardson's state representative Stefani Carter was at the center of that unlikely Venn diagram.

After the jump, connecting the dots.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Departures (2008)

Departures (2008): Japanese cellist gives up music to prepare dead for burial. A homecoming. A love story. Simple tale, beautifully told. A+

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lightning Strikes at School Board Candidates Forum

The League of Women Voters of Richardson and the Richardson ISD Council of PTAs jointly hosted a forum for school board candidates Thursday night at the RISD Administration Building.

The candidates for school board trustee are:
Place 6 - Justin Bono, Rachel Chumney.
Place 7 - Kristin Kuhne, Judy A. Yarbrough, Bonnie Abadie.

The election is May 10. Early voting begins April 28.

The full video of the forum is available on the LWV's website. Watch it. Or just read my take on what was most important, or entertaining, or both. It's your choice. It's a free country.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Separated by 6,060 Miles

Award yourself 100 points if you can correctly identify the countries in which these two photos were taken.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Oh Myyy!

Oh Myyy!
From Oh Myyy!, by George Takei
Open quote 

Fans (and the press) often wonder how a 75-year old actor who had his heyday in a science fiction series from the 1960s came to have some three million fans on Facebook. I honestly often wonder the same thing."

After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave (2013): Important history. Soul-deadening drama. Nothing redeeming about slavery, America's original sin, still with us. B+

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr Penumbra
From Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
Open quote 

I pushed the bookstore's glass door. It made a bell tinkle brightly up above, and I stepped slowly through. I did not realize at the time what an important threshold I had just crossed. Inside: imagine the shape and volume of a normal bookstore turned up on its side. This place was absurdly narrow and dizzyingly tall, and the shelves went all the way up -- three stories of books, maybe more."

This novel is the 2014 selection for "Richardson Reads One Book".

After the jump, my review.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Touch of Sin (2013)

A Touch of Sin (2013): Tales of alienation. Characters are at once victims & sinners. China itself is a character: huge, drab, menacing. B-

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who's Running the Show?

Something amazing happened at the Richardson Civic Center Tuesday evening. The City Plan Commission (CPC) denied, by unanimous vote, a rezoning request to build a chain of pad restaurants along the US 75 frontage road just north of West Spring Valley Road.

The request was non-conforming to the zoning painstakingly worked out several years ago with all stakeholders as part of a revitalization plan for the West Spring Valley Corridor. Instead, the request wanted to ditch that form-based, mixed-use zoning and put in a same-old, same-old row of pad restaurants just like you see all up and down US 75 as far as the Oklahoma line. Obviously this doesn't fit the vision for revitalization of southwest Richardson, and critically, doesn't fit the spirit or the letter of the law as far as current zoning goes. So it ought to have been, and was, denied. Nothing to see here. Move along, right?

Still I was agape at the vote. I'll tell you why, after the jump.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Richardson is Going to the Dogs

The City of Richardson continues to move towards the construction of a dog park, an amenity that residents have long advocated for (along with a skate park, which isn't going anywhere, but let's focus on the positive here). The park is slated to go under the overpass of the President George Bush Turnpike just west of US 75.

The last time I wrote about this, I said whoever came up with the location for this park was a genius. A dog park is an amenity everybody agrees would be a good idea, just not in my backyard. And unused land under a freeway overpass is a waste that isn't good for anything.

The thing is, dogs are hard wired to chase cars, remember? Dogs don't care about traffic. For them, millions of cars whizzing by just out of reach is a feature of this location, not a liability.

After the jump, what's the point of this post today?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013)

Twenty Feet From Stardom (2013): Oscar-winning look at anonymous backup singers behind the hits. A+ music. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. B-

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bait and Switch in Southwest Richardson

The bait was appealing when dangled in front of stakeholders in southwest Richardson four years ago when community meetings were held on redevelopment of the West Spring Valley Corridor:

Catalyst 2
The future vision for this collection of properties includes a new mixed-use environment on the full block. Building faces could be established on James Drive, Floyd Road and US 75, giving the development a distinct, unified architectural character on all visible frontages. The land use mix of the new development could include ground floor retail and office with residential uses above.

That was the bait. After the jump, the switch.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stories We Tell (2012)

Stories We Tell (2012): Daughter interviews her siblings, father and dead mother's possible lovers. A complex but very functional family. B-

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mitt (2014)

Mitt (2014): Behind the scenes look at candidate and family in 2008 and 2012. Public Mitt is no act. Private Mitt doesn't get it, either. B-

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Double Down

Double Down
From Double Down, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann:
Open quote 

On election night, when Mitt called the president to concede, he had congratulated Obama for his side's turnout efforts -- specifically expressing his own team's astonishment at the numbers in Cleveland and Milwaukee, where African American participation was off the charts. When Obama related Romney's comment to Axelrod, Messina, and Plouffe, they all had the same bemused reaction. What Boston was saying, in effect, was, Holy cow, where did all these mysterious minorities come from?"

"Big Boy [Chris Christie]'s sense of where the real fault lay was crystal clear: with the clowns on Commercial Street. On the phone with Ryan two days after the election, Christie listened while Fishconsin [Ryan] talked about how he, too, had been certain that he and Mitt were headed for the White House. 'On election morning,' Ryan said, 'they told me and my wife we were going to win.' 'Well, that just shows how shitty they were,' Christie harrumphed."

After the jump, my review.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013): '60s folk singer's life and career going nowhere. Character-driven movie by Coen Bros succeeds. Great songs. B+

Monday, April 7, 2014

Raytheon. Mixed-Use? By What Definition?

Source: The Dallas Morning News.

This is what Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka said when Raytheon announced plans to build a 490,000-square-foot office campus near the Bush Turnpike DART station:
We are also excited about this addition to KDC's CityLine project, which is poised to become one of the region's premier mixed-use developments, anchored by outstanding corporate citizens.

After the jump, questioning the mayor.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Final Four Block Party

From 2014 04 04 Final Four

The NCAA Final Four basketball tournament this year is being held in North Texas (specifically, AT&T Stadium in Arlington). The City of Dallas hosted a block party downtown on the site of the old, long gone, Reunion Arena. The main attraction was a March Madness Music Festival sponsored by AT&T. A lot of people came out for the music, but it wasn't hard to spot the people who were in Dallas this weekend for basketball.

More photos after the jump.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

OTBR: Morning Mood near Joehlingen, Germany

Latitude: N 49° 02.724
Longitude: E 008° 33.942

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".

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"All the Beachfront on Renner"

Earlier, I looked at the GreenVUE apartment complex under construction at Greenville Ave. and Collins Blvd. and was disappointed in its failings as transit-oriented development. Today, I look north to another apartment complex under construction "just south of State Farm and the CityLine mixed-use development at Plano and Renner roads". It doesn't have a name yet that I know.

After the jump, you guessed it, another opportunity lost.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Repeat Tweets: Really Dumb Column

Repeat tweets from March, 2014:

  • Mar 2 2014: "Some really smart people have praised this really dumb idea." But not Steve Blow. Really dumb column.
  • Mar 2 2014: .@DMNSteveBlow, really dumb column. You say really smart people have praised this idea, but you don't address any of their arguments.
  • Mar 3 2014: "Blow doesn't understand how traffic works." A good explanation for Steve Blow's really dumb column.
  • Mar 3 2014: Blow to conventional wisdom: Texas "taxes the middle class at rates as high or higher than in California."
  • Mar 3 2014: Blow to conventional wisdom: "Except NY, every major state has lower total effective business tax rate than Texas."
  • Mar 3 2014: Blow to conventional wisdom: "Smaller share of people in Texas own their own business than in all but four states."
  • Mar 3 2014: No surprise: Texas' "Robin-Hood-in-reverse system gives Texas the fifth-most-regressive tax structure in the nation."

After the jump, more repeat tweets.