Monday, October 31, 2022

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022): Sequel to the 1993 original. This one doesn't so much build on that one as repeat it, beat for beat. Bette Midler's big musical number is better than the one in the original, but it's no "Time Warp." Skip it and go trick or treating with the kids instead. C-

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Hocus Pocus (1993): I never saw this Disney original, so I watched it before watching this year's sequel. I can't tell if it's bad because the humor is dated, or aimed at kids, or what. Bette Midler vamps. You'd think that alone would have saved the movie, but no such luck. C-


Saturday, October 29, 2022

POTD: Anne Frank House

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the most famous of Amsterdam's canal houses: the Anne Frank House. Seventy five years on, tickets to enter the house, now a museum, still sell out days ahead of time. But tourists come by anyway to see the house from the outside.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Friday, October 28, 2022

POTD: Amsterdam's Canal Houses

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is a classic look at Amsterdam's canal houses. There are miles and miles of canals in the old city center, all of them lined with canal houses.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

King Donald the First

The ad from Donald Trump, Jr., says, "My father is the Great MAGA King." It says the hat was "personally designed" by Donald himself. History lesson: since the United States Constitution was adopted in 1789, there has not been any serious movement for another King George III ruling America. Until now, maybe. My first thought was to mock Trump for not knowing American history, but on further thought, the lack of a monarchy in the USA may be what attracts him to the idea of crowning himself king. He's been President. How did that work out for him? Why not try king? His MAGA cult already stormed the Capitol for him once. Why would we think they would hesitate to toss out the Constitution altogether and genuflect to King Donald the First?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

WAIW: The Staff of Hermes

Where Am I Wednesday!

Fifty points to the first person to identify where this photo was taken.

Answer is after the jump.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Blonde (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Blonde (2022): Biopic of Marilyn Monroe. All the bad is here. Broken home. Childhood PTSD. Casting couch. Abusive marriages. Exploited her whole sad life, even after death by this movie. Lurid details invented. Hallucinations. She deserves better. But Ana de Armas is terrific. B-

Monday, October 24, 2022

Code of Ethics "Covers the Basics"

Given thorough review and amendments in 2020, Staff has no recommended additions or changes.

And with that, in 17 and a half minutes the Richardson City Council rushed through another biennial review of its Code of Ethics, making no changes.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

POTD: Windsurf

Today's photo-of-the-day is of unidentified riders on the Windsurf ride on the Midway at the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park in Dallas. Despite appearances, the photo is upside right.

If you haven't caught the State Fair yet, you have only one more day to do so. It closes today.

All photos from the 2022 State Fair of Texas can be found on Google Photos.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022

Angie Chen Button Equates Public Schools with Mao's China

During the recent Richardson ISD school board election, I wrote a lot of blog posts (a lot) about the incendiary and false charges being leveled by extreme right-wing candidates against public education. But I have to say, nothing they wrote compares to this outrageous claim in a mailer by Angie Chen Button.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Catherine, Called Birdy (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Catherine, Called Birdy (2022): Coming-of-age tale by Lena Dunham. In 1290 England, Catherine, a spirited, independent girl, sabotages the suitors her father tries to marry her off to. It might work for the 13-yr-old girl market, but neither the satire nor comedy work for me. C+

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Empress (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Empress (TV 2022): German. Costume drama of 16-yr-old Elisabeth's marriage to Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. Lots of court intrigue, international jostling for leadership, and revolution afoot. As good as "Victoria" or "The Crown" but in Vienna. B+

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Prey (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Prey (2022): Prequel to six Predator films. Set on the Great Plains in 1719. Comanche girl wants to become a hunter and stalks a hostile alien. More a coming-of-age tale than a sci-fi monster movie. Amber Midthunder is fantastic as Naru. She's brave, smart, and persistent. A-

Monday, October 17, 2022

The Hamlet Syndrome on Richardson City Council

Between the May public hearing and the June codification into ordinance, one Council Member flip-flopped his vote from "yes" to "no", denying a special use permit for a smoking establishment in Richardson. Now, in October, the Richardson City Council voted 6-1 to approve a special use permit for a smoking establishment for the same restaurant, reversing that 4-3 vote in June. This time, three Council Members flip-flopped their votes from "no" to "yes." The codification of this latest vote into ordinance will follow, assuming the Council is now done flip-flopping. Armchair psychiatry is stupid, but here I go anyway. What's with this Hamlet Syndrome on Richardson City Council?

Sunday, October 16, 2022

POTD: Caricature Artists

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a caricature artist at the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park in Dallas.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

POTD: Youth Market Livestock Show

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a steer entered in the Youth Market Livestock Show at the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park in Dallas.

Bonus photo is after the jump.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Book Review: The Pursuit of Italy

From The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples, by David Gilmour:

Open quote
The Pursuit of Italy


  I was astounded by the next words of Signor Rossi, who twenty years earlier had been minister of education. ‘You know, Davide,’ he said in a low conspiratorial voice, as if nervously uttering a heresy, ‘Garibaldi did Italy a great disservice. If he had not invaded Sicily and Naples, we in the north would have the richest and most civilized state in Europe.’ After looking round the room at the other guests, he added in an even lower voice, ‘Of course to the south we would have a neighbour like Egypt.’ "

Cramming 2,500 years of history and culture into a dense 400 pages, this book focuses on Italy's divisions. It's a wonder that Italy ever came together into a single modern state. That didn't happen until the 1860s. Maybe it hasn't happened yet. B+

After the jump, my full review.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Amsterdam (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Amsterdam (2022): A 1930s noir comedy/mystery that gradually reveals itself to be a message film with an anti-fascist warning for today. A slow-developing, complicated plot with too many quirky characters, the critics mostly hated it, but I loved it for all the same reasons. A-

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Brawl Breaks out at Police Station Over Hookah

At the end of a five hour meeting held at the Richardson Police Department, the Richardson City Council voted 6-1 to approve a special use permit for smoking for the "Another Time & Place" restaurant. I applaud the City Council for where they ended up in the vote, but how the Council got to "yes" was embarrassing. The pre-bout betting line was anything but a sure thing. In the end, the lopsided vote belied the jabs and uppercuts that preceded it during the Council deliberations on the matter. Brawl is an overstatement in comparison with, say, a Dallas City Council meeting, but it was a dustup by Richardson standards, where Council Members usually show deference to one another and votes are often unanimous.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Borgen - S01 (TV 2010)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Borgen - S01 (TV 2010): Denmark. Workplace drama set in the offices of Denmark's first female prime miniter, who is faced with challenges in politics, press, business, and her marriage. All the fast-paced story lines are blended seamlessly. Great comparison to America. A-


Monday, October 10, 2022

Lou (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Lou (2022): What would be overworked with a man in the lead turns out to be mildly novel with Allison Janney as a retired CIA agent dragged into chasing a kidnapper. Good action scenes, even though some are implausible. And some good psychology at work, too. B-

Sunday, October 9, 2022

POTD: Big Tex

Today's photo-of-the-day is of Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas in Fair Park in Dallas.

Bonus photo of Big Tex from head to toe (and Big "L") is after the jump.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Friday, October 7, 2022

Medici: Masters of Florence - S01 (TV 2016)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Medici: Masters of Florence - S01 (TV 2016): Historical drama about the dynasty that ran Florence in 1400s. Politics, intrigue, sex, and violence with lots of 2-D characters. Easy way to absorb history. Only in the last episode did I realize S01 was a murder mystery at heart. B-


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Tehran - S01 (TV 2020)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Tehran - S01 (TV 2020): Israel. A thriller. Secret Israeli mission in Iran is blown due to mistakes obvious to the viewer. Israeli spycraft doesn't live up to its reputation. The characters who make those mistakes are human, with some stereotypes surprisingly broken. B-


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Woman King (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Woman King (2022): Female African warriors fight European slave traders. Revenge. Tragedy. Joy. Formulaic movie with roles reversed. Ahistorical? So were all those John Wayne movies. It's time Hollywood paints Africans as the heroes. Viola Davis rules. so does Thuso Mbedu. A-

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Foundation (TV 2021)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Foundation (TV 2021): Galactic empire challenged by ragtag rebels. Another sci-fi classic (this one by Isaac Asimov) ripped off by Star Wars. This one lacks passion or fun. Cerebral psychohistory instead of the Force's woo-woo. Main characters seldom interact with each other. C+

Monday, October 3, 2022

POTD: Viking River Cruises 2023-2024

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a map in a brochure we received in the mail from Viking Cruises advertising their European river cruises in 2023-2024. Think of it as our wish book. Where will we go? The Rhine? Danube? Elbe? Seine? Rhone? Douro? Wait. What happened to the Volga? We had a great vacation in 2018 on the Volga, sailing the "Waterways of the Tsars", but I don't see us getting to go back again. That red oval on the map (added by me) encircles the terra incognita that Russia has become for Western tourists since Vladimir Putin decided to become Ivan the Terrible.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

POTD: Grand Café De Kroonprins

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Amsterdam. Why the Grand Café of the Crown Prince would have the Statue of Liberty over its door was never discovered. The outdoor seating area offered great views of the street scene. We just had appetizers and dessert. Bitterballen was new to us. Apple strudel wasn't, but it is hard to imagine improving on the Grand Café's version.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

POTD: Canals and Bicycles

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Amsterdam. It captures many aspects of the Amsterdam experience in one photo: canals and canal houses, bicycles, and views of church steeples. Look at how those bicycles are parked. A side benefit of getting cars off the streets is that not only do you need less pavement for cars to drive on, you also need fewer parking lots and garages to park them. Amsterdam remains one of our favorite cities.

Random Thoughts: The Most Effective Frog Boils are the Slowest

Tweets from September, 2022:
  • 2022-09-01: The most effective frog boils are the slowest.
  • 2022-09-02: I can't see Jason Villalba's tweet because he has me blocked (no idea why) but it must be something good.
  • 2022-09-03: NASA Scrubs Artemis I Launch to the Moon Again." Again. The moon doesn't want us to come back.

After the jump, more random thoughts.