Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: The Need

From The Need, by Helen Phillips:

Open quoteHer desperation for her children’s silence manifested as a suffocating force, the desire for a pillow, a pair of thick socks, anything she could shove into them to perfect their muteness and save their lives."
The Need: Stories

Molly, young mother of two, hears an intruder's footsteps. Molly, paleobotanist, discovers very odd objects in a dig. Is it a sci-fi novel about parallel universes? Is it a psychological thriller about the anxieties of motherhood? Mostly the latter.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

POTD: Pyramid of Djoser

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Step Pyramid of Djoser, near modern Cairo. Dating to the 27th century BCE, it predates the more famous pyramids at Giza by a century. "Djoser's step pyramid is astounding in its departure from previous architecture. It sets several important precedents, perhaps the most important of which is its status as the first monumental structure made of stone."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Lovebirds (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Lovebirds (2020): Rom-com plays more like a buddy cop comedy. Chemistry and banter between Nanjiani and Rae are worth watching as they investigate a crime to keep from being arrested themselvs. Silly plot played silly but just seriously enough to overlook its silliness. B+

Monday, May 25, 2020

Country Meadow Duck Pond

For the last couple of years, I have tried to get the City of Richardson to do something about the standing water in the street in front of my house. So far no luck. In summer it breeds mosquitoes. In winter it's a slip-and-slide ice rink. I've reported it via the "My Richardson" app; my report disappeared from the list of open issues; no work was ever done. I was told that the issue is "closed" when it's passed on to the appropriate city department. Not when it's actually resolved, just when the buck has been passed to someone else. So maybe my issue is sitting somewhere in the system and will be addressed by someone, sometime. Or not. There's no way to tell from the app. In the meantime, the ducks seem to be enjoying themselves on my city-owned and unmaintained duck pond. So there's that.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

"Texas Woman Accused in Beating of State’s Former Lieutenant Governor"
The headline says "Texas Woman Accused in Beating of State’s Former Lieutenant Governor." If that made you think of Stefani Carter, you should be ashamed of yourself. Either that or you know way too many details about the inside baseball of Texas politics. The woman in the headline is Leslie Ann Caron. If that made you think of Leslie Caron the movie star, well you'd be wrong again. But it would prove you don't know way too much about the inside baseball of Texas politics. Our woman of interest, arrested for "injury to an elderly person" (ouch), is Leslie Ann Caron, a political fundraiser. There is a connection to our Stefani Carter. Patience. We'll get to it.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Upload (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Upload (TV 2020): On death, people choose to upload their consciousness to a CGI afterlife. Much of this explores what that's like (not always smartly), but there's also a love story and even a murder mystery. Still, writers didn't have enough material for a whole season. C+

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Edge of Democracy (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
The Edge of Democracy (2019): How Brazil's fragile democracy was overthrown "legally" by right wing authoritarians. I thought this stuff happened in "banana republics," not in America, but the same script is now playing out here. Constitutions can be subverted everywhere. B+

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Who Wore It Better?

Who wore it better?

On the left is the new sculpture "Flow" designed by RE:site Studio and installed at Richardson's new Fire Station #3 at the corner of Lookout and Custer. It mimics water shooting out of a vintage brass fire hose nozzle.

On the right is one sculpture of a four piece collection, "Shuttlecocks" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. It mimics, well, a shuttlecock.

Who wore it better?

Monday, May 18, 2020

SARS and Me

I want to offer some exculpatory information about China's role in the COVID-19 pandemic. And point a finger back at ourselves— collectively. We are guilty of ignoring warning signs that have been flashing for years. Let's start with SARS. Bear with me. Eventually, I'll get to the "...and Me" part of the story and the excuse I have for talking about a global issue on a personal blog at all. Hint: it's related to that photo.

Friday, May 15, 2020

POTD: Sphinx Wannabe

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Today's photo-of-the-day is from the ruins of Memphis, one of the capitals of ancient Egypt, just south of present-day Cairo. The Sphinx here (which is not the famous Sphinx of Giza) is one of the few intact artifacts on display at the site. The dog is just a modern-day Sphinx wannabe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Review: This Tender Land

From This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger:
Open quote The tale I'm going to tell is of a summer long ago. Of killing and kidnapping and children pursued by demons of a thousand names. There will be courage in this story and cowardice. There will be love and betrayal. And, of course, there will be hope. In the end, isn't that what every good story is about?"
This Tender Land: Stories
"This Tender Land" is the 2020 selection for "Richardson Reads One Book."

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

POTD: Don't Touch Your Nose

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Don't touch your nose. You can spread the novel coronavirus that way. Don't touch Pharaoh Ramsses II's nose. You might spread ancient viruses that way. This has been a public service announcement. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the ruins of Memphis, one of the capitals of ancient Egypt, just south of present-day Cairo.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Making the Cut (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Making the Cut (TV 2020): Tim & Heidi's successor to Project Runway, worse in every way. Contestants are experienced, not new designers. They get seamstress help. Emphasis is on selling on Amazon and building a "global brand." Runway fashion is unrewarded. Auf wiedersehen. C-

Friday, May 8, 2020

Planet of the Humans (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Planet of the Humans (2020): Michael Moore's takedown of environmental movement, rejecting solar, wind and biomass because they aren't 100% clean. Also pissed that capitalism finds ways to profit and big environmentalists can be hypocrites. The movie's solution: depopulation. C-

Thursday, May 7, 2020

POTD: Don't Touch Your Face

From 2019 11 17 Ancient Cairo

Don't touch your face. But it's OK to touch the Sphinx's face. Or it was in November when foreign travel was still free and easy. Good times. Today's photo-of-the-day is from the Great Sphinx of Giza. "The face of the Sphinx is generally believed to represent the pharaoh Khafre," whose pyramid is nearby.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

American Factory (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
American Factory (2019): Former GM plant in Ohio reopens as Chinese-owned auto glass factory. Cinema verité documentary. It's crazy that Chinese owners allowed cameras fly-on-the-wall access. Culture clash in America's heartland is sharp and unsettling. You feel for workers. A-

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Contaminated Groundwater in Richardson

This agenda item for the Richardson City Council caught my eye:
City staff will review the process for consideration of a Municipal Settings Designation [MSD] for a commercial property near Coit Road and Arapaho Road. A Municipal Settings Designation is an official state designation within a municipality that certifies that designated groundwater at the property is not used as potable water and is prohibited from future use as potable water.
Why wouldn't you want to use groundwater as potable water?

Monday, May 4, 2020

Cold War (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes
Cold War (2018): Poland. Three Oscar noms. Arty. Ill-fated love story set in post-war Europe, mostly Poland and Paris. Beautiful B&W cinematography evocative of the times. Characters can find passion but can't find happiness with each other. Why not is a recurring mystery. A-

Friday, May 1, 2020

Random Thoughts: Trump is a Snake Whisperer

Tweets from April, 2020:
  • 2020-04-01: "Trump is a snake whisperer." -- Edward Countryman.
    What a great addition to the political dictionary, alongside "dog whistle."
  • 2020-04-01: A tradition in American journalism is that the reporter must not become the story. It's impossible to live up to that at a televised Presidential press conference. Trump thrives on his insulting interactions. One solution? Stay away. Don't let Trump make you a part of his shtick.
  • 2020-04-02: Yesterday was Census Day. Forgot to fill it out for your household? Not to worry. Do it today. It still counts. You still get credit. And so does your community.
  • 2020-04-02: Those toilet paper shortages probably are caused less by panic buying and hoarding than by our economy's fine-tuned supply chains being unable to rapidly adjust to the new normal.

After the jump, more random thoughts.