Friday, September 29, 2017

POTD: An Angel in Hell

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Devils Hangout Gift Shop in Hell, Cayman Islands. The name comes from cooled lava flows visible from the parking lot of the gift shop that must have reminded some early tourism promoter of burnt-out hellfire. That's an angel posing in front of the gift shop. Awww.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Hologram for the King (2016)

Hologram for the King (2016): US IT salesman has midlife crisis in Saudi Arabia. Starts exotic, ends preposterous. No reason to care. C+

One of those rare movies based on a book (reviewed here) that matches it in quality — in this case, mediocre.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

POTD: Little Boxes

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise
Today's photo-of-the-day is from the cruise ship pier at Cozumel, Mexico. I'd name the ship, but they all look just the same.

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same
There's a pink one and a green one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tanna (2015)

Tanna (2015): Tribal conflict on South Pacific island. Arranged marriage vs forbidden love. Universal tale based on true story. Lovely. A-

Monday, September 25, 2017

Regionalism and Sprawl

I am constantly adding to my collection of dirty words. These are the motherhood and apple pie virtues that I used to think were non-controversial. Virtues like tolerance and compromise and civility all have come under attack from conservatives. What I thought made American democracy great is being dismantled virtuous brick by virtuous brick. Liberals can play this game, too. Self-described "libtard" Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer adds "regionalism" to the list of dirty words. Schutze equates regionalism with sprawl. Sprawl is bad, so regionalism must be too.
the leadership of [Dallas] is so evenly divided between the old-school champions of sprawl, which they call regionalism, and the new-school champions of cityhood.
During the old establishment's 20-year war for [the Trinity Tollroad], the main justification for it was that it would promote regionalism. By offering regionalism as a selling point, the old guard betrayed its utter unawareness that people on the other side of the paradigm think regionalism is the problem. And there you have it.
Source: Jim Schutze.

Friday, September 22, 2017

POTD: Playa del Carmen Beach

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the beach at Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on the Yucatan peninsula. This seems a fitting photo for the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. As the days grow shorter and colder, it's good to remember that in the Tropics, it's always summer.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

mother! (2017)

mother! (2017): Stimulating blend of religious myths. Most intense episode of Fixer-Upper ever. Writer's block is a bitch for the muse. A-

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann (2016): German. Eccentric father inserts himself into daughter's business. Quirky at times. Original symbolism. Let's talk. B+

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

POTD: Cenote Multun-Ha

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Multun-Ha cenote on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Multun-Ha cenote is a cave with water. Think of a sinkhole where the roof has not collapsed. There's no sunlight. There's no outside sound. The water is clear and cool. It's a refreshing escape from the Yucatan's hot sun above.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, September 18, 2017

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016) is one of Yayoi Kusama's signature Infinity Mirror Rooms. It was recently acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art. Believe it or not, it's a thing. The DMA will charge non-members $16 for a special exhibition ticket, which permits the holder to 45 seconds in the infinity mirror room. That's right — 45 seconds. It's easy to make fun of this new artwork because of that, but taken all by itself, without the ridiculous price, it is kind of a cool thing to experience. It certainly would be if you just stumbled on it without any advance hype. Heck, the title alone is interesting. Anyway, I liked it. #KusamaPumpkins

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Translation: Berkner's Homecoming (theme: "Glowcoming") For-the-Win.

The Berkner Rams won their Homecoming game against the Garland Owls 35-16 Friday night. Excitement came on the last play of the first half as the Rams stopped the Owls on a fourth-and-goal from the one yard line to preserve a 21-0 halftime lead. After stretching the lead to 28-0 in the third quarter, the Rams held on to win 35-16.

More photos from the game are after the jump.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016): Seven Samurai > 1960 version >> Three Amigos > 2017 version. And McQueen>>Pratt. No reason for this remake. C+

Thursday, September 14, 2017

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016): James Baldwin tells story of America through the lives of Medgar, Malcolm and Martin. Unresolved still today. A-

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Handsome (2017)

Handsome (2017): Comedy detective tale. Quirky, maybe a little. Funny, not really. Mystery, not that either. Really nothing here. C-

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

POTD: Ixmoja

From 2017 01 29 Caribbean Cruise

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the ancient Mayan city of Coba on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. The largest pyramid at Coba is Ixmoja, standing 138 feet (42 meters) tall. It's 40 feet taller than the better known and much more visited El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza. Unlike Chichen Itza, this pyramid can still be climbed by random tourists. The steep 120 step climb is worth the view of the jungle canopy that you get from the top. Then you can crab walk your way back down.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Richardson Needs More Apartments

Richardson needs more apartments. Or at least, more low-income housing, which tends to be multi-family. Instead, the multi-family housing that is going up all over Richardson is not affordable for many of the workers needed to support Richardson's boom.

Richardson's City Council has withstood the opposition to new apartments, but only to a point. Even the Richardson City Council won't address the elephant in the room — the lack of low-income housing. The result: restaurants in booming developments like CityLine are having trouble finding workers. Those employed at, say, State Farm and Raytheon can afford to live in all the new upscale apartments at CityLine. Those employed in CityLine's restaurants cannot.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Friday Night Lights are Bright Again

It's September, it's Friday night, and that means high school football. The Berkner Rams had their home season opener spoiled by the Naaman Forest Rangers 20-14 at Wildcat-Ram Stadium.

More photos from the game are after the jump.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

Ingrid Goes West (2017): Expected a comedy. Got a portrait of a sad stalker who wants a friend. Needs some Aubrey Plaza quirkiness. C+

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Local Property Taxes Carry More of the Load

School districts made a big pitch during the recent Texas legislative session for more state funding for public schools. The pitch's argument often went something like this: if homeowners don't like their property taxes always going up, it's because the amount the state chips in is always going down.
"More and more of the burden for financing our schools is ending up on the backs of our local taxpayers," said Richardson ISD School Board President Justin Bono. "They're finding other priorities for it. We wish and try to press that public education should be a priority." Bono says the state used to provide 50 percent of a district's funding just less than 10 years ago. By next year, the state's funding will only account for a mere 20 percent of the district's revenue.
Source: Fox 4 News.
On its face, that sounds like it should be an effective argument. Effective, meaning persuasive to reasonable politicians in Austin, who might not have been aware that more and more funding for schools is coming from local property taxes. Then I read something in Vox that opened my eyes.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

OTBR: Prairie Dog in Boulder

Latitude: N 40° 02.328
Longitude: W 105° 14.298

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 (not actually) last month that are "off the blue roads".

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Single Member Districts are not the Way to Diversity

Single member districts are not the way to diversity. Maybe elsewhere, with different geography and demographics, but not in the Richardson ISD, anyway. Carol Toler of the Lake Highlands Advocate has been asking RISD trustees (current and former) about RISD adopting single member districts. Toler first raised the issue in an interview with new RISD board president Justin Bono. Bono responded reasonably in my opinion:
I don’t know that single member districts would accomplish what proponents want or make a board more effective, just given how our district is laid out. Our board would welcome a more diverse pool of candidates and colleagues, and we’re focused on getting more diversity on strategic planning committees, diversity of backgrounds and geography as well, so that there is a greater pool of potential board candidates. Ultimately, it has to be the right time for any candidate to step into board service.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Repeat Tweets: Vote First. Hearings Later

Repeat tweets from August, 2017:

  • Aug 1 2017: RT @ericawerner: "Cornyn on the floor acknowledging any path forward on health care will have to be bipartisan."
    That's our Texas Senator acknowledging what should have been obvious, what was the right thing to do, all along. What a waste.
  • Aug 1 2017: RT @TopherSpiro: "NEWS: Bipartisan hearings to draft stabilization legislation. Testimony from patients, Governors, and experts."
    Vote first. Hearings later. Not the way I remember "How a Bill Becomes a Law" but better late than never.
  • Aug 2 2017: The Girl on the Train (2016): Psychological mystery borrows heavily from Rear Window and Gaslight. Well-crafted if maybe too predictable. B-
  • Aug 3 2017: RT @costareports: "Secret Service vacates Trump Tower command post in lease dispute with president's company."
    Because of course.
  • Aug 4 2017: Trump heads govt (Secret Service). Trump owns Trump Tower. But great negotiator can't get a lease done between 2?
  • Aug 4 2017: "Russell Barlow, Jr Commits to TCU Hoops."
    It's a great time to be a Ram. @BerknerBB #txhshoops

After the jump, more repeat tweets.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest
From Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace:
Open quote 

A woman at U. Cal-Irvine had earned tenure with an essay arguing that the reason-versus-no-reason debate about what was unentertaining in Himself's work illuminated the central conundra of millennial apr├Ęs-garde film, most of which, in the teleputer age of home-only entertainment, involved the question why so much aesthetically ambitious film was so boring and why so much shitty reductive commercial entertainment was so much fun. The essay was turgid to the point of being unreadable, besides using reference as a verb and pluralizing conundrum as conundra."

I finished "Infinite Jest." The novel that sold a million copies since publication twenty years ago; the novel that's on almost every list of best novels of the twentieth century; the thousand-page novel that I bet hardly anyone ever actually finishes reading; the novel whose sentences go on even longer than this sentence of mine; you know, that novel. I finished it. I finished it. I deserve some recognition for that. Or punishment. I don't know which.