Friday, August 31, 2018

Review: This is How You Lose Her

This is How You Lose Her
From This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Díaz:
Open quote 

Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually she’s your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won’t matter.) She could have caught you with one sucia, she could have caught you with two, but as you’re a totally batshit cuero who didn’t ever empty his e­mail trash can, she caught you with fifty! Sure, over a six­-year period, but still. Fifty fucking girls? Goddamn. Maybe if you’d been engaged to a super open-minded blanquita you could have survived it—but you’re not engaged to a super open­minded blanquita. Your girl is a bad­ass salcedeña who doesn’t believe in open anything; in fact the one thing she warned you about, that she swore she would never forgive, was cheating. I’ll put a machete in you, she promised. And of course you swore you wouldn’t do it. You swore you wouldn’t. You swore you wouldn’t. And you did."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
BlacKkKlansman (2018): Undercover cops infiltrate Klan in 1970s. A broad satiric look at America's dark history, but Spike Lee slips in a word or scene now and then to show he's more interested in today than the 1970s. And he connects with a gut punch by the end. B+

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

POTD: Hosier Lane

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Specifically, Hosier Lane, one of the lanes and arcades of central Melbourne that make it such a fun city to walk. "The graffiti-covered walls and art-installations have become a popular backdrop for fashion and wedding photography."

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

POTD: Melbourne's Lanes and Arcades

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne
Centre Place

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Specifically, one of the many lanes and arcades that make the central business district so walkable.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Monday, August 27, 2018

POTD: Queen Victoria Market

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Specifically, the Queen Victoria Market, the largest open air market in the southern hemisphere. It has been operating since the 1860s.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

POTD: The Americans in Moscow

Spoiler alert: if you haven't seen the series finale of the television series "The Americans" you might want to stop reading here. Spoiler follows.

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Moscow, Russia, and was taken on Sparrow Hills, "a hill on the right bank of the Moskva River and one of the highest points in Moscow." But that's not what makes this photo special. Sparrow Hills is the place where the final scene of "The Americans" was set. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings had returned to the USSR in 1987 after two decades working as undercover spies in the USA. Upon arriving in Moscow, Sparrow Hills is where they asked their driver to stop so they could get out of the car and gaze over the city they had left long ago. Ellen stands where viewers last saw Phillip and Elizabeth stand in 1987.

A screen shot from the series' final scene follows the jump.

Friday, August 24, 2018

POTD: Puffing Billy

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Belgrave Station of the Puffing Billy Railway, a narrow gauge heritage railway running through the hills and forests of the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne, Australia.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Wonder Wheel (2017)

Rotten Tomatoes
Wonder Wheel (2017): Coney Island in 1950s. Love triangle. Looks and reads like a stage play, down to saturated stage lights. Usually Woody Allen plays a lovable neurotic. Here it's a woman and she's not lovable, just pathetic. Best line: "Oh, God, spare me the bad drama." C-

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

POTD: Sherbrooke Forest

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Sherbrooke Forest, a nature preserve in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne, Australia, and home to the Eucalyptus Regnans, also known as mountain ash, the tallest flowering plant in the world, and one of the tallest trees, second only to the Sequoia, or California redwood. It's one of the reasons the Dandenongs are one of my favorite spots in Australia.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ekaterina (TV)

Ekaterina (TV): 2014 Russian TV series on rise of Catherine the Great. Straightforward melodrama. Easy introduction to Ivan VI, Elizabeth, and Catherine and Peter III, St Petersburg's palaces and 18th century palace intrigues. Perfect preparation for a Russian vacation. C+

Monday, August 20, 2018

POTD: William Ricketts Sanctuary

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Victorian Dandenong Ranges in Australia. There, on a peaceful hillside nestled among towering mountain ash, from 1934 until his death in 1993, sculptor William Ricketts fashioned 92 ceramic sculptures of native fauna and flora, Aborigines and himself. Ricketts was an eccentric and a narcissist. He was an environmentalist with a New-Age spiritual attitude towards nature. He often shows himself as an Aborigine in his sculptures and in one case shows his own torso growing out of a kangaroo's hindquarters. In the 1930s, his was one of the few voices celebrating Aboriginal culture in Australia. He was ahead of his time, but today, his treatment of Aboriginal culture as primitive and childlike is considered as much condescending as ennobling. In any case, his heart was in the right place and his sanctuary remains a treasured retreat from the hustle and bustle of nearby Melbourne.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Embassytown

From Embassytown, by China Miéville:
Open quote 

Hosts, the indigenes, in whose city we had been graciously allowed to build Embassytown, were cool, incomprehensible presences. Powers like subaltern gods, which sometimes watched us as if we were interesting, curious dust; which provided our biorigging; and to which the Ambassadors alone spoke."

Embassytown is classic science fiction with something to say about Earth by imagining what language, consciousness, communication and colonization might be like at the edge of the universe.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

POTD: Sculling on the Yarra

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Yarra River in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia, where they have been sculling for at least 100 years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

POTD: The Yarra River

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne
The "old" North Bank CBD

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Australia. It shows the Yarra River at night. When I lived in Melbourne over forty years ago, the Yarra River was an industrial blight, flowing between rail lines on one bank and factories and warehouses on the other. Today, the Yarra River is the center of Melbourne entertainment and dining. The warehouses are all gone, replaced by a convention center, a casino, condos, offices, and restaurants all along the river through the central business district. By far, this change is the most noticeable difference from the Melbourne I remember from my time living there in the 1970s.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here (2018): Netflix standup routine, again based on stories from her life, but this time small, everyday pleasures: her kitten, her wife, her adopted twins, her life. It's time for a smile. Tig brings it. B+

Monday, August 13, 2018

POTD: The Colonial Tramcar Restaurant

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne has the world's largest tram network, including some classic old cars converted into rolling restaurants. There's no better way to see Melbourne than while dining in a moving streetcar with vintage decor.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Friday, August 10, 2018

POTD: Deer Park High School

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Deer Park High School in Melbourne, Australia. In yesterday's photo of the day, I mentioned that I might have ridden one of Dallas's McKinney Avenue trolleys when it was still rolling the streets of Melbourne long ago. Today's photo explains what I was doing in Melbourne way back then: teaching high school maths in Deer Park High School. This year, on my first return trip in over forty years, I revisited the school. As expected, no one I knew then is still at the school. The last teacher I served with retired only a couple of years ago. Still, good memories.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

POTD: Tram Down Under

From 2018 03 15 Melbourne

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Appropriately for the land Down Under, it's a photo of a classic tram car emerging from the ground as if it's coming from the land up top. Maybe it's an homage to Amarillo's Cadillac Ranch from a city that values mass transit over gas guzzlers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

POTD: Whales!

From 2018 01 31 Cabo San Lucas

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In winter each year Humpback Whales and Gray Whales migrate south to the warm waters off Baja California where they cavort for tourists like us.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Eighth Grade (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Eighth Grade (2018): I'm not a 13 yr old girl. Not even 13, but if memory serves, this movie is spot on with early teen life today. Story arc is flat. Don't expect blossoming or downfall. All the best scenes are in the trailer. Acting is excellent, especially Elsie Fisher. C+

Monday, August 6, 2018

Set It Up (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Set It Up (2018): Two executive assistants with overbearing bosses play matchmaker for them and end up falling for each other. Because of course they do. Plays like a 90 minute pilot for a rejected TV sit-com. Stereotypical. Formulaic. Cast is OK, script is not. C-

Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Warlight: A Novel

From Warlight: A Novel, by Michael Ondaatje:
Open quote 

In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals."

Great novels have great opening lines. They draw the reader in from the very first sentence. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is no exception.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018): Much better stunts than script. The mission is to recover stolen plutonium. The "plan" constantly goes wrong and needs improvisation: car chases, fist fights, shootouts and everybody changing sides. Tom Cruise shows his age. C-

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Repeat Tweets: Collins Won't Back Court Pick...

Repeat tweets from July, 2018:

  • Jul 1 2018: Headline: "Collins Won’t Back Court Pick Who Overturns Roe v. Wade."
    This would only preclude a nominee who is on the public record calling for overturning Roe. So, we'll get a nominee who refuses to say definitively but is all but certain to overturn. And Collins will vote to confirm.
  • Jul 1 2018: Goliath: Season 2 (TV): Plot is a mess. Villain is absurd. Why some people are killed and not others makes no sense. But the characters, especially Billy and Patty, are strong and unforgettable. Patty's speech to her FBI agent date is series' highlight. I'd watch a Season 3. B-
  • Jul 2 2018: "Unfortunately civility was forcibly rebranded as "political correctness" and then taken out to the pasture and shot." -- Paul Michael Hodgson
  • Jul 2 2018: Headline: "Plano's $3 billion Legacy West is getting its own CVS store."
    When you can't decide if it's Steve Brown in "The Dallas Morning News" or "The Onion", bet on Steve Brown.
  • Jul 2 2018: Besides @marklamster's nit about the Maverick's logo ("when was the last time you saw a horse in downtown Dallas?") there's the nit that a Maverick isn't a horse in the first place.

After the jump, more repeat tweets.