Wednesday, July 31, 2019

POTD: Alexander Garden

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Alexander Garden in Moscow, Russia. It runs for over 900 yards along the outside of the western wall of the Kremlin. It was constructed after the Napoleonic Wars, when Tsar Alexander I ordered the reconstruction of the parts of the city that had been destroyed by French troops.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019): Quentin Tarantino's take on Manson cult and Sharon Tate murders, with a twist. QT's homage to vintage music, movies, and Hollywood streets. Slow buildup to violence. Brad and Leo (Bradnardo?) make a comfortable pair. Women fare worse. B+

Monday, July 29, 2019

Period. End of Sentence (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Period. End of Sentence (2018): Documentary short about how menstruation is a taboo subject in India even today that suppresses girls and women. And how one village's women fight back by creating a business of making and selling sanitary pads. Inspiring. A-

Sunday, July 28, 2019

POTD: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier just outside the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Rolling Thunder Revue (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rolling Thunder Revue (2019): Martin Scorsese's mostly non-fictional documentary of chaotic 1975 tour by Bob Dylan and friends. Some glimpses into Dylan's psyche. Lots of intimate concert footage. Fascinating behind-the-scenes looks at Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. B+

Friday, July 26, 2019

If Not This, Then What?

On Wednesday, I blogged about my opposition to the Richardson City Council's approval of a zoning change request to allow the development of pad site restaurants on the old Richardson Square Mall property at Belt Line Rd and Plano Rd. My article was criticized for not offering alternative solutions. Alternatives weren't the subject of my post, but if you read it and my previous articles linked to, you'll see that I do address just that question. Maybe this standalone article on the question will help.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dior: From Paris to the World

The Dallas Museum of Art exhibition "Dior: From Paris to the World" showcases almost 200 runway dresses from the House of Dior, from the 1940s until the present day. That's a lot. So many that the DMA has turned over its entire barrel vault and four side galleries for the exhibition. It's pretty much just dresses and the attendance the day we went looked about 10:1 women to men, but I found it well worth the hour we spent inside the exhibit. But, confession: "Project Runway" is one of my guilty pleasures.

More photos after the jump.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Dollar Tree: The Next Generation

The Richardson City Council approved rezoning for the construction of new pad site restaurants and a partitioning of the former Sears store at Richardson Square. I've blogged my opposition to this short-sighted plan again and again. My opposition wasn't softened by the council's deliberations.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

POTD: Check It Off the Bucket List

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Seeing St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square has been on Ellen's bucket list since high school. Check it off!

Click to see St. Basil's at night.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Oscar winner for animated feature. Origin story for super hero; coming-of-age tale for everyone. A door to the multiverse brings variants of Spider-Man together. New hero has to save the world. Too much action. Never enough humor. C+

Sunday, July 21, 2019

POTD: 31 Flavors in Red Square

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Red Square in Moscow, Russia. If we had any doubts about who won the Communism vs Capitalism fight, this Baskin-Robbins stand in Red Square suggests an answer. (The jury is still out on the autocracy vs democracy question, if not in Russia, maybe in ours.)

Close-up photo after the jump.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

POTD: Merry-Go-Round

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is of an unknown girl in Moscow, Russia. Perhaps it's a sign that all kids grow up to the point where merry-go-rounds are no longer fun, or maybe it's a sign that smart phones are addictive even to young kids, but I like to interpret this photo as a sign that kids are kids all over the world.

Friday, July 19, 2019

POTD: Mass Transit Moscow Style

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from a subway station in Moscow. These underground palaces were built by Joseph Stalin to be showcases of the workers' paradise that the Soviets wanted to present to the world. The USSR collapsed but the subway stations still impress visitors to Moscow today. The train service is swift, frequent, and comfortable, too.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

POTD: Scenes Along the Volga

From 2018 08 20 Moscow

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Volga River in Russia near Moscow. No history lesson today. Just universal images. People are people everywhere.

Bonus photos after the jump.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019): Our hero saves Europe from evil Elementals...or someone else. European city backgrounds were my favorite part of movie. Also, the usual Marvel humor. And I guess the teen love story adds human interest. Full of plot holes. Overdone CGI. C+

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

POTD: Nikolsky Cathedral Bell Tower

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Volga River in Russia. When the Baltic-Volga Waterway was constructed, the network of dams, reservoirs, and locks connecting a two-thousand mile long waterway sometimes drowned villages and towns. The bell tower is all that remains of the Nikolsky Cathedral.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Blocked on Twitter

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a New York judge's ruling and found that [President Donald] Trump "engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by utilizing Twitter's 'blocking' function to limit certain users' access to his social media account, which is otherwise open to the public at large, because he disagrees with their speech." ... The judges on the appeals court concluded that "the First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees."
Source: CNN.
After the jump, my own experiences being blocked on Twitter.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

POTD: Cruising the Volga

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Uglich Reservoir lock on the Volga River in Russia. The bow of our cruise ship is just visible as we enter the lock behind another cruise ship. The Baltic-Volga Waterway is a network of dams, reservoirs, and locks connecting a two-thousand mile long waterway. The whole is an amazing feat of engineering.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

POTD: My Uglich Watch

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Uglich, Russia. There's a story behind it. I haven't worn a wrist watch in years. But I was in Uglich. How could I resist buying a watch in Uglich? Uglich was known as a watch-making center in Russia. Nikita Khrushchev, while attending the 1955 Geneva Summit, bragged that Uglich watches were better than Swiss watches because, as the joke goes, Russian watches run faster. So I decided I'd buy an Uglich watch, as long as the price was cheap. I found the perfect watch at this souvenir stand. It featured "President of Russia" on the face, along with a tsarist double-headed eagle and Vladimir Putin's signature. And it was cheap. Later that day, Ellen said it was time for dinner. I said we still had an hour. She said no we didn't. I double checked my new watch and noticed it had stopped running. So much for my Uglich watch.

Close-up after the jump.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Review: The Soul of America

The Soul of America
From The Soul of America, by Jon Meacham:

Open quote 
For many, the fact that we have arrived at a place in the life of the nation where a grand wizard of the KKK can claim, all too plausibly, that he is at one with the will of the president of the United States seems an unprecedented moment. History, however, shows us that we are frequently vulnerable to fear, bitterness, and strife. The good news is that we have come through such darkness before."

The bad news is that the same shit keeps happening, generation after generation. It's not Meacham's thesis, but like playing Russian roulette, eventually the bad shit is going to kill us.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

An Ad that Didn't Age Well

Younger readers may need an explanation. It used to be that to make a long-distance telephone call, you'd have to use an operator. (And if you're too young even to know what long-distance means, or what an operator is, use Google.) It was an exciting innovation when direct long-distance dialing was introduced. In the UK and Australia, the feature was called "subscriber trunk dialing," abbreviated STD. STD was still a big thing in telephone service when this ad appeared in Australia in 1976. Now you know. Hopefully, I don't have to explain the other meaning of STD.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Time to Travel is NOW

This article was originally published in "Richardson Living" magazine. Read it on that website or read it here. Or read it in print. In mail boxes now.

I don't want to talk about why you should travel. If the delight of seeing new places, undertaking new adventures, meeting new people and cultures and, in the process, learning more about yourself, if that doesn't appeal to you, well, turn the page. For those of you who are still with me, let me tell you why the time to travel is NOW.

Young and Just Starting Out

"I always knew that you would take yourself far from home
As soon as, as far as you could go."
— 10,000 Maniacs

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

POTD: House Hunting in Uglich

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Uglich, Russia. It shows a representative house of the area. The owner is a school teacher who likes gardening — flowers and vegetables.

A look inside the house is after the jump.

Monday, July 8, 2019

POTD: Grace

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Uglich, Russia. The church is the Church of the Transfiguration, which dates to the early 1700s, replacing an earlier church on the same site that dated to the 1400s. Uglich itself dates back a thousand years. History is rich here. In 1591, according to Advantour, the original church's "bell ringer announced the death of Tsarevich Dmitry to the Uglich people by a peal of bell. Later this ill-fated bell, which brought bad news, was given a flogging with a whip just like humans and, like a criminal, exiled to Siberia."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

POTD: Church of Tsarevich Dimitri On the Blood

From 2018 08 19 Uglich

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Uglich, Russia. The church was built on the spot of the murder of Tsarevich Dmitry. According to Advantour, "On May 15, 1591, young Tsarevich Dmitry, the last heir of Ivan the Terrible, died in mysterious circumstances. The chronicles of the Time of Troubles are full of gloomy stories about the death of the tsarevich, but the real causes of death of the last Rurik has never been found out. However, the most popular version was a cold-blooded murder, allegedly plotted by Boris Godunov, the pretender to the throne. This version was so well known and argued, that later on it provided the basis for the famous historical play 'Boris Godunov' by Alexander Pushkin."

Saturday, July 6, 2019

POTD: Sunset on the Volga

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Volga River near Yaroslavl, Russia. No history lesson today. It's just a pretty picture.

Friday, July 5, 2019

My First Car

The photo shows me being presented with the keys to my first car, a 1958 DeSoto Firemite. It's a 3/8 scale car with a polystyrene plastic body, whitewall tires, a gasoline engine, and battery-operated headlights, taillights and horn.

Yes, there's a story behind it. In 1958, Chrysler Corporation dealers were promoting their new cars. When my Uncle Floyd bought his 1958 DeSoto station wagon, Winnebagoland Motors held a "Family Days Car Jamboree" contest for new owners. Floyd entered the name of his six-year-old nephew, me. I was lucky enough to win a new car. I've never had quite that same smile on my face since.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Yesterday (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Yesterday (2019): Beatles music alone would be worth it, but the whole is a perfect blend of that with a sci-fi premise and a bittersweet love story, with each component leaving you wanting more, as it should be. Comic elements are a bonus. Maybe you have to be a Baby Boomer. A-

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Murder Mystery (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Murder Mystery (2019): Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston in a Netflix movie says all you need to know about this comedy/mystery. The jokes are bad, then explained to the audience ("eggplant donut emoji"). Skip this one and rewatch any version of "Murder on the Orient Express." C-

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

POTD: Yaroslavl Festival

From 2018 08 18 Yaroslavl

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Yaroslavl, Russia, located on a strategic bluff overlooking the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl Rivers. Yaroslavl celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 2010. Another celebration is underway in this photo.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Idle Thoughts: Only One Item on the Ballot

Tweets from June, 2019:
  • 2019-06-03: There is only one item on the ballot and there is no line. It shouldn't take a half hour to vote. But then you might not know who I went to vote with.
  • 2019-06-06: Rocketman (2019): Less a concert movie than a study in the personal demons that drove Elton John to rehab. A couple of big Broadway song and dance numbers adds to the patchwork quality. Would have preferred more concert footage. A good behind-the-scenes look at a genius. B+
  • 2019-06-07: Ma (2019): Psychological thriller with Octavia Spencer as the psychopath. Builds slowly to a climax that borders on torture porn. Spencer's performance should make a big impression on a younger generation of movie-goers, who might learn to be nicer to their classmates. C+

After the jump, more idle thoughts.