Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: The New Wilderness

From The New Wilderness, by Diane Cook:

Open quote Glen was the one who knew about the study, putting people in the Wilderness State. When things worsened in the City and Agnes’s health cratered, like so many children’s had, Glen was the one who offered his help to the researchers in exchange for three spots—for him, Bea, and Agnes." The New Wilderness

When the City becomes unlivable, people seek permission to live nomadic lives in the wilderness. It's a hard life, but return to the City is unthinkable. A coming-of-age adventure for a girl who struggles with her mother, budding love, and survival.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lupin (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
Lupin (TV 2021): French. Burglar inspired by 100-yr-old novel seeks revenge for injustice done to his father 25 years before. He steals a priceless necklace from the Louvre. Heists. Action. Lovable rogue. At heart is Lupin's relationship with his own son. Story is incomplete. B+

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

POTD: Abu Simbel

From 2019 11 20 Abu Simbel

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Abu Simbel on the shores of Lake Nasser in southern Egypt. The construction of the Aswan High Dam that created Lake Nasser in the 1960s also flooded more than a dozen ancient Egyptian temples. Before the floodwaters could reach the Abu Simbel temples, "the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, averaging 20 tons), dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history."

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The White Tiger (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes
The White Tiger (2021): A lower-caste Indian grows up wanting to rise above his servant caste. He talks his way into being a driver for a rich man. But a betrayal convinces him that being a loyal servant won't protect him. Hero or anti-hero? A good insight into modern India. B+

Monday, January 25, 2021

Owens Farm Redevelopment

Spring Creek Farm

It's been seven years since Owens Farm closed. That was plenty of time for the city and neighbors to solve the problem of what would replace it. Why we always wait until a property sells before paying attention to it is frustrating. I blogged about it in 2013. I don't think that post ages all that well (meaning I didn't set my hair on fire sounding the alarm). I guessed that developers would try to build an office building or an apartment building. I didn't guess it would be warehouses. Don't we have a whole warehouse district just to the southwest that we're trying to figure out how to redevelop? Why doesn't the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

Friday, January 22, 2021

Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Motherless Brooklyn (2019): 1950s Brooklyn film noir. Detective gets whacked. His partner digs into why and turns up corruption at highest level of city govt. A study in power, urban development, and race relations. Fictionalization of Robert Moses, the master builder of NYC. B-


Thursday, January 21, 2021

POTD: Aswan High Dam

From 2019 11 19 Aswan

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Aswan, Egypt. It shows Lake Nasser, one of the world's largest man-made lakes. It was created by the Aswan High Dam, the world's largest embankment dam built across the Nile River at Aswan Egypt. I remember when it was built in the 1960s. In my mind's eye, I saw another Hoover Dam. But it's less impressive. Instead of being built across a deep canyon, the Aswan dam is built across a broad valley. Nevertheless, it was a major engineering feat, even if it's not as photogenic as Hoover Dam.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

One Night in Miami (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
One Night in Miami (2020): Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke meet in Miami after Clay wins world title. Four friends, all "young, black, righteous, unapologetic, famous," but all very different. Adapted stage play gives each actor time to shine, and all do. A-

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

POTD: Essence of Life Perfume Palace

From 2019 11 19 Aswan

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Aswan, Egypt. When you take an organized tour, you sometimes have to go to stops whose only purpose is to sell the tourists something. In this case, perfume. You see and learn interesting things. This man is blowing glass into perfume bottles (whether or not it's merely a show is immaterial, right?).

Bonus photos after the jump.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Chernobyl (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes
Chernobyl (TV 2019): Dramatization of 1986 nuclear accident. Part history, part science, part a view of dystopia. Good series on so many levels. A corner of the world whose people, failed by their leaders, have suffered so much over the centuries, but still display heroism. A-


Friday, January 15, 2021

Video Scoreboards - Here We Go Again

Richardson ISD trustees approved replacing the scoreboards at the district's two stadiums. Their justification included this detail: "The upgraded scoreboards will offer enhanced video capabilities...The new, digital scoreboards will allow RISD to generate increased revenue from advertisers." We've been down this road before, in 2011 when the current scoreboards were installed (without video displays). Then, I called video scoreboards for high school athletics a "dumb idea." I am still against them today.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The King of Staten Island (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
The King of Staten Island (2020): Pete Davidson plays a messed-up tattoo artist living with his mother. When he was 7, his fireman father was killed in a fire. Movie is about him pulling his life together despite himself. Davidson really sells it. About 30 minutes too long. B-

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Richardson Police, It's Time to Step Up

Local democracy can't survive if our national democracy fails. A week ago, I called on local politicians to step up and take a stand and condemn the President of the United States for inciting an insurrection at the US Capitol.

Today, I extend that call to the Richardson Fraternal Order of Police. The President of the United States incited an insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, including one Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death by a Trump mob. That's the same president whom the Richardson police "proudly endorsed" in November. That endorsement must be retracted. The president cannot "Back the Blue" while calling on the mob to storm the Capitol and overwhelm its police protection. The president cannot be for "Law and Order" while inciting insurrection. And the Richardson police cannot have our trust and respect unless they renounce their endorsement of President Trump. Richardson Police, it's time to "Back the Blue" yourself and admit your mistake in endorsing Donald Trump for President.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

POTD: Painted Brick

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Today's photo-of-the-day is from a Nubian village on the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. The age-old question — should a homeowner paint his brick? This homeowner gets a big thumbs-up from me.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sylvie's Love (2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Sylvie's Love (2020): Jazz is still king, women still stay at home, but times are changing. This is a modern love story in a new setting: Harlem in 1957. Makes an old story fresh. Young woman finds her ambition to be a TV producer in conflict with love. Tessa Thompson shines. B+

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Rally at the (Texas) Capitol

If you expected Wednesday's insurrection at the US Capitol to cause extremist Republicans to pause, you were wrong. Texan Republicans are advertising a rally at the Texas Capitol just three days later. There are two things about this poster that drew my attention. First is the slogan at the bottom that ties Texas Republicans directly to QAnon. And, second, one of the featured speakers is a former candidate for Richardson ISD school board.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Deacon King Kong

From Deacon King Kong, by James McBride:

quote The morning after the shooting, the daily gathering of retired city workers, flophouse bums, bored housewives, and ex-convicts who congregated in the middle of the projects at the park bench near the flagpole to sip free coffee and salute Old Glory as it was raised to the sky had all kinds of theories about why old Sportcoat did it." Deacon King Kong

That "Old Sportcoat," aka Deacon King Kong, did it is clear from the first paragraphs. But why he did it takes a whole book, not just for the reader, but for Sportcoat himself. Great characters and story from a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Local Politicians, It's Time to Step Up

This week started with several local politicians announcing their candidacies for Richardson City Council or Richardson ISD Board of Trustees. It all felt so traditional, so inspiring, so...American. And then Wednesday happened. Suddenly, the America I love and remember seemed so long ago.

As the US Congress gathered to officially count the electoral votes and name Joseph R. Biden the winner of the presidential election, defeated President Trump incited his followers to reject the electoral defeat and instead to march to the US Capitol, where they stormed the building, and occupied the House and Senate chambers and many elected officials' offices throughout the Capitol. Afterwards, Trump empathized with the insurrectionists' hurt feeling over the "stolen" election and expressed his love for them. His behavior was shameful. Their insurrection was shameful. Anyone who doesn't give a full-throated condemnation of what our President has incited is also shameful.

That brings me back to our local politics.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

POTD: Egyptian Street Gang

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Today's photo-of-the-day is from a Nubian village on the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. Kids are kids all over the world.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

POTD: Boats at Rest

From 2019 11 19 Aswan
Today's photo-of-the-day is from a Nubian village on the Nile River near Aswan, Egypt. Just a quiet, peaceful scene, an appropriate image for someone hoping for a quiet, peaceful 2021.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Bridgerton (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes
Bridgerton (TV 2020): 1800s costume drama. Pouts and swoons. No racism in this England, but lots of sexism. Too many singles looking for proper matches. All prigs. A vow of revenge made by the Duke to his dying father proves a barrier to happiness. Who cares? Only the prig. C-

Friday, January 1, 2021

Random Thoughts: A Collision of Two Dump Trucks

Tweets from December, 2020:
  • 2020-12-01: When H-P and Compaq merged years ago, someone described it as a collision of two dump trucks. The wreck is being towed back to Houston.
  • 2020-12-02: Watching PBS series "The Rise of the Nazis" with this shit happening in Washington is like watching annotations to current events in the US. Enlightening and frightening.
  • 2020-12-02: Profile in courage. Not.
  • 2020-12-03: Germany wasn't special. America isn't somehow immune. "If [Hitler's] life and career teaches us anything, it is how quickly democracy can be prised from its hinges when political institutions fail."

After the jump, more random thoughts.