Thursday, November 30, 2017

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017): Bitter mother searches for her daughter's murderer. Black comic elements. Mildly uplifting. No heroes or villains, just broken people. Frances McDormand rules. A-

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Constructing the Building Plans in RISD

The new RISD strategic plan contains six strategies, one of which is "We will ensure that our facilities and infrastructure adapt to support our mission." That's a tautology, but that just gives the action team working this strategy more freedom to come up with plans of their own devices. I've got some advice.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thinking Strategically About Schools

First and foremost, I am encouraged by the Richardson ISD's outreach efforts to get community input into the district's planning process.
On October 2, district trustees voted to adopt a revised RISD strategic plan, and stakeholders are encouraged to take part in the process by applying to be on one of the six action teams that will develop the specific steps and goals to support the six district strategies:
  • We will ensure that we have diverse and engaging programs and learning opportunities to meet the unique needs of all our students.
  • We will guarantee that all students will perform at or above grade level.
  • We will recruit, retain, and reward quality personnel.
  • We will ensure that ALL families, businesses, and community partners are fully engaged in the mission of our district.
  • We will actively pursue creative funding sources and responsibly manage current resources to support our mission.
  • We will ensure that our facilities and infrastructure adapt to support our mission.
Source: RISD.

Six teams of 35 to 50 community members have been formed. If all goes well, these teams will ensure community support as the RISD makes difficult strategic decisions in the future.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Where All Students Connect, Learn, Grow and Succeed

"Where All Students Connect, Learn, Grow and Succeed." That's the new mission statement for the Richardson ISD. Fifty points if you know what the old mission statement was. It used to be "Where All Students Learn, Grow and Succeed." See the difference?

I'm no marketing genius (my wife always said that if I worked in marketing, our family would starve), but in my opinion, the RISD just weakened a good slogan. Good things come in threes, not fours:

  • Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
  • Of the people, by the people, for the people.
  • Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
  • Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe

"Learn, Grow and Succeed." Not "Connect, Learn, Grow and Succeed." Not only is it discordant, it's the literal definition of mission creep, which has acquired a well-deserved reputation for ending in "final, often catastrophic, failure." I've got nothing against students connecting, but RISD ought to be careful not to overburden its priorities, lest nothing is a priority.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017): Documentary. Old photos, movies, interviews and readings. The precise chronicler found the dark side of life to be "Gold". This movie is...silver. B-

Read my review of Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking".

Thursday, November 23, 2017

POTD: Turkey Day Down Under

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the beach of Apollo Bay on the Southern Ocean of Australia. The photo was taken on Thanksgiving weekend of 1976. Thanksgiving dinner was cooked over a campfire in Great Otway National Park.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mudbound (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Mudbound (2017): White farm family in Mississippi in 1940s facing poverty, floods, illness. Black family with same burdens. Plus racism. Script shows same events from different perspectives. Quiet but strong performances. Lessons for today. A-

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lady Bird (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Lady Bird (2017): A girl's struggles with best friend, boy friends, school and most of all, mother. Very believable and real look at coming of age in Sacramento. Saoirse Ronan nails it. B+

Monday, November 20, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Murder on the Orient Express (2017): Luxurious, campy whodunnit. No reason for this remake but good fun anyway. All-Star cast all get their chance to chew the scenery. "Why the abundance of evidence?" B-

Friday, November 17, 2017

LBJ (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
LBJ (2017): More an earnest history lesson than great drama. Covers 1960 election, JFK assassination, and civil rights. A sympathetic portrait of what LBJ's legacy would have been without Vietnam. Woody Harrelson succeeds. B+

Thursday, November 16, 2017

POTD: Branding the Brazos

From 2017 09 18 Waco
Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the shore of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.

[The artwork] pays tribute to Waco’s 19th-century days as a stop on the Chisholm Trail cattle drives from South Texas to Kansas. It features three cowboys — one white, one Hispanic and one black — driving 25 head of longhorn cattle to the western approach to the Waco Suspension Bridge.

The bridge itself was built to support the major industry in Texas at the time, the cattle business.
The twin double-towers that anchored the span were considered to be a marvel of engineering at the time, containing nearly 3 million bricks, which were produced locally. The bridge collected its first toll on January 1, 1870. Its 475-foot (145 m) span made it the first major suspension bridge in Texas. The bridge was wide enough for stagecoaches to pass each other, or for cattle to cross one side of the bridge, and humans to cross the other side. Being the only bridge to cross the Brazos at the time, the cost of building the bridge, which was estimated to be $141,000 was quickly paid back. Tolls were 5 cents per head of cattle that crossed, along with a charge for pedestrian traffic.
Source: Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Lost City of Z (2016)

Lost City of Z (2016): True life drama of English explorer in the Amazon 1906-25. Percy Fawcett's motivations are a hash, never adequately explored. Would have been better as fiction. C+

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

POTD: The Uncola

From 2017 09 18 Waco

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas. Dr Pepper acquired 7 Up in 1988 and today, the Dr Pepper Museum affords equal space, or more, to 7 Up.

The "Uncola" ad campaign has been described as "the most psychedelic, LSD-friendly ad campaign of all time." That psychedelic 7 Up found a home in Waco, Texas, is still one of history's least-likely facts.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Retail Apocalypse and Richardson

I have long been a fan of mixed-use development, even though I have had criticism about how it's been done in Richardson. Except for the single two block stretch of State Street in CityLine that is walkable, Richardson's so-called mixed-use developments have been mostly the same-old 1980s model of apartments and strip shopping centers. Instead, I wanted to stuff ground-floor retail in all those new apartment developments. And upper-story apartments in all those new restaurants. Now, changes in the retail environment might mean I have to rethink my enthusiasm for mixed-use.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Victoria & Abdul (2017)

Victoria & Abdul (2017): Lonely queen befriends Indian servant, scandalizes court. Great fun as Dame Judi Dench puts down stuffy English. B+

Thursday, November 9, 2017

POTD: Waco: Where It All Began

From 2017 09 18 Waco

Waco: where it all began. If by "all" you mean Dr Pepper. Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, the city where it all began in the late 1800s. Dr Pepper didn't acquire 7 Up until much later, in 1988. I have no idea where it began. You could look it up. Me? I'm going to have a Dr Pepper.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver (2017): Getaway driver with thing for music and a sweet girlfriend. Chase scenes that get better as movie goes over the top. B+

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: A Place of Greater Safety

A Place of Greater Safety
From A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel:
Open quote 

Fifteen years from now, on the day the Bastille falls, the price of bread in Paris will be at its highest in sixty years. Twenty years from now (when it is all over), a woman of the capital will say: 'Under Robespierre, blood flowed, but the people had bread. Perhaps in order to have bread, it is necessary to spill a little blood.' "

This quarter-century-old historical novel attracted me for two reasons. First, it's by Hilary Mantel. I greatly enjoyed her two novels about Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII ("Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies"). Second, it's about the French Revolution, a messy event that any history of the modern world has to account for.

Monday, November 6, 2017

OTBR: Great Melbourne Telescope

Latitude: S 35° 17.952
Longitude: E 148° 55.278
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".

Friday, November 3, 2017

POTD: Magnolia Market

From 2017 09 18 Waco

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. It's owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the brains and talent behind the HGTV home renovation series "Fixer Upper." Peopla have a love it or hate it kind of relationship here. Some feel Chip and Joanna are using faux rustic design (think "shiplap" everywhere) to make every renovated house in Waco look like a farmhouse. Others welcome the business that all the attention is bringing Waco and its largely vacant downtown.

Judging by the looks of the two gentlemen on the left in the photo, Magnolia Market is not just for the ladies. We had to see it. We enjoyed the market, the food truck park, and a couple of other tourist attractions in Waco.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

POTD: Magnolia Beauty

From 2017 09 18 Waco

Today's photo-of-the-day comes from the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. The beauty comes from Richardson.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Repeat Tweets: Trump's War on Football

Repeat tweets from October, 2017:

  • Oct 1 2017:
    1/ Trump started a war on the NFL. His base called for a boycott. Now, Rush Limbaugh has made an abrupt U-turn.
    2/ Limbaugh says it's really the *Left* that's against the NFL. Why? Because of football's masculinity.
    3/3 Rush's U-turn may be a sign that the boycott isn't working. Let them express themselves. #TakeAKnee #1A
  • Oct 1 2017: RT @BudKennedy: "Dallas ISD's Joyce Foreman on school names (she's OK with just 'Stonewall Elementary')."
    Can someone explain this woman's thinking to me?
  • Oct 1 2017: "Anti-monopoly candidates are testing a new politics in the midterms." @Lillian_Salerno takes on Pete Sessions.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.