Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Enola Holmes 2 (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Enola Holmes 2 (2022): Sherlock's young sister is still smart, independent, and good with jujutsu. Young girls should still love her. This time, she finds a woman missing from a match factory sweatshop. Clues galore. Her sleuthing skills are over the top and the best fun. C+

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Spirited (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Spirited (2022): Modern take on Dickens Christmas Carol, or a mangling of it anyway. Scrooge(s) and the ghosts are hard to tell apart. More a buddy movie with Will Farrell and Ryan Reynolds. Big musical numbers are good, but movie seems embarrassed by them. Worse, NSFK (kids). D+

Monday, November 28, 2022

Inside Man (TV 2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Inside Man (TV 2022): Vicar, trying to protect others, makes increasingly more desperate mistakes, putting his family and himself in jeopardy. Plot holes galore. Halfway around the world on death row, the nemesis he doesn't know he has is just as absurd. Still a fun watch. C+

Sunday, November 27, 2022

POTD: Amsterdam's Modern Architecture

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photos-of-the-day are from Amsterdam. Everyone's familiar with Amsterdam's historic canal houses, but architecture hasn't stood still in the city since the 17th Century. Here are just two examples of striking modern architecture: the Eye Film Museum and the NEMO Science Museum.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

POTD: Bike Parking

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Amsterdam. It shows the end of a bike rack in the center of the city.

Bonus photo after the jump.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Menu (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Menu (2022): Famous chef hosts guests at his restaurant on a remote island, where evil surprises await. The foodies make too easy targets and a suspension of disbelief is needed throughout but manage that and this makes for a delicious black comedy from starter to dessert. B+

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Wonder (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Wonder (2022): Ireland, 1862. Girl hasn't eaten in 4 months yet remains healthy. Miracle? Fraud? English nurse is brought in to investigate. Mystery with a satisfactory resolution. Florence Pugh plays the nurse well, but lacks a strong opposing character to play against. B-

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Banshees of Inisherin (2022): Two lifelong friends have a falling out. Things deteriorate from there. Ireland, 1923. Loneliness. Lack of opportunity. Quiet. Slow. Both the setting and the movie. More like a short story. A mood piece. A character study. Excellent acting by all. B+

Monday, November 21, 2022

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022): German. Life of WWI recruits from enthusiastic enlistment to weary armistice. Violent, gory, relentless madness of war. Not exciting as much as mind-numbing. Anti-war gem if not for unfortunate touches of German blame-shifting for WWII. B-

Sunday, November 20, 2022

POTD: The Night Watch

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photos-of-the-day are from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The first photo shows "The Night Watch" by Rembrandt van Rijn from 1642. It's the best known painting in the Rijksmuseum's vast collection of Old Masters. Almost everyone is familiar with it. But how many photos ever show what people see when they stand with their backs to the famous painting? The second, bonus photo does just that. I think the building itself is an Old Master. Follow me for other unusual views of famous places. ;-)

Bonus photo after the jump.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

POTD: Woman Standing in Front of Van Gogh's Sunflowers (X2)

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photos-of-the-day are from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. On the left is Isaac Israels's painting from 1920, "Woman Standing in Front of Van Gogh's Sunflowers". It inspired my own photo shown on the right. How did I do?

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Two Month Countdown

Money makes the world go around
The world go around
The world go around
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Get a little money money money
A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
That clinking clanking clanking sound
Is all that makes the world go around
It makes the world go around!
Source: Cabaret.

The mid-term elections are over. Did you think you'd get a break from election campaigning? Silly you. The former guy's announcement from Florida says otherwise. Closer to home, Friday will be exactly two months from January 18, 2023, the first day for Texans to file for a place on the General Election Ballot for local political office. If you are considering a run for school board or city council, you've got a lot of work to do before then. You can't afford to wait until after the holidays to get started.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Zoning Process in Richardson is Broken

Zoning is a subject that puts people to sleep, until they wake up in a start to discover something going in next to where they live like a huge warehouse distribution center. Then, zoning is the most important thing in the world to them. Zoning classifies privately-owned land into different zones — residential, commercial, industrial, etc. It's what controls what can get built next to your house. The most common forms of zoning have been around for a hundred years (e.g., Euclidean zoning) and have worked well, or at least have worked understandably, until recently. Now, zoning has become hopelessly confusing. A satisfactory successor system has yet to emerge. Let's take a current case in Richardson as Exhibit A (or more exactly Exhibit Zoning File 22-11).

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Of AEDs and Zoning

If you squint your eyes, it kind of looks like a city zoning map.

What do automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have to do with land use zoning? Well, nothing, but that didn't stop Richardson Council Member Ken Hutchenrider from going down a rabbit hole November 14 while deliberating a zoning change request (Zoning File 22-11). The trap was laid by City Manager Don Magner and Director of Development Services Sam Chavez. City staff has been hostile to this zoning change request for years. The property owner keeps coming back with revisions trying to meet the City's objections. The City keeps coming up with new ones. The latest is particularly egregious.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Three-Legged Stool of Mixed-Use Development

Mixed-use development rests on three legs. First, residential. Second, retail and restaurants. Third, businesses like hotels that depend on nearby restaurant/retail to attract customers to their own business. Like a stool, all three legs are needed to provide stability. Unlike a stool, you don't have to have all three legs in place for the first leg to serve its purpose. Richardson has a development application that offers a perfect example.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

POTD: Rijksmuseum's Cuypers Library

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the Cuypers Library in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. The museum is home of thousands of masterpieces by artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer. But the Rijksmuseum is also home to a fantastic research library.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

POTD: Canal House Gables

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is of the gables of a row of canal houses in Amsterdam. The story we heard is that the style of these gables evolved over the decades and centuries, with older styles losing favor and new styles arising as the architecture fashion changed.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Miracle Workers (TV 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Miracle Workers (TV 2019): Heaven as a workplace comedy. A slacker God (Steve Buscemi) decides to end the world. The Answered Prayers dept. determines to prevent that. Not a bad concept, but the show runs out of ideas before it runs out of episodes. Won't be watching season 2. C+


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Tár (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Tár (2022): Orchestra conductor's career is threatened when a former protege commits suicide. I recognize a great movie even though the music theory is over my head and the cancel culture storyline is unresolved. Cate Blanchett is brilliant as the aloof and obsessive genius. A-

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Mediterranean Antiquities

Ellen and I cruised the Mediterranean Sea with a Viking ocean cruise. Here are the daily posts we made reporting our progress.

1. Guess where we are.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Bullet Train (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Bullet Train (2022): Toyko mafia, Mexican drug cartel, and Brad Pitt as a reluctant assassin. Kidnap for ransom on a train. Or something. Forget the plot. Lots of quirky characters, lots of action. Lots of fun. Just go along for the ride, even if it isn't going anywhere. B-

Sunday, November 6, 2022

POTD: Bike. Canal.

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a bicycle on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. Bicycles and canals seem to be Amsterdam's signature impressions. This one is doing its best to stand out.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

POTD: Vrouw met Stola

From 2022 07 03 Amsterdam

Today's photo-of-the-day is of a sculpture on a canal in Amsterdam: Vrouw met Stola (Woman with Shawl), by Pieter d’Hont. He made eleven copies beginning in 1957. This one was placed here in 1996, after previously having been vandalized and dumped in a canal. So the stories about bikes in the canals are true, and it's not just bikes that end up in canals.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022): A London house cleaner wants a Christian Dior dress, so she saves until she can afford a trip to Paris where she wins over the House of Dior with naivety, charm, and persistence. A feel-good story full of charm itself. B+

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Central Expressway Speed Trap

Source: Troy Oxford.

Tim Rogers of D Magazine wrote about the Central Expressway speed trap that exists called Fairview. If you don't know about Fairview, it's that's small city of 9,000 between Allen and McKinney east of Central Expressway. It makes up for its small size with hustle on the highway. Mile for mile, Fairview writes 3 times as many traffic tickets on Central Expressway as McKinney, and a whopping 35 times more than Allen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Top Gun: Maverick (2022): Predictable. To understand how far America has gone astray since the Cold War, replace the American pilots with Japanese pilots bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941. Would we still be pulling for them to succeed? Watch it like I did, on a plane experiencing turbulence. Extra exciting. C+

Random Thoughts: Runaway Slaves Escaping To Mexico

Tweets from October, 2022:
  • 2022-10-03: A chapter of US history that's rarely told that holds a lesson for today. If we couldn't stop runaway slaves from escaping *to* Mexico pre-Civil War, why do we think it's possible to stop desperate refugees fleeing the other direction today? Why would we even want to?
  • 2022-10-03: Today's Trump fundraising email: "We need a clear picture of how all voters in your Congressional District are leaning, and you are a leader in your district." A leader? He must read my blog!
  • 2022-10-03: Up until recently, regardless of when life begins, in the United States nobody could force you to donate your own body to save another person. Republicans want the government to force you to donate your body to save even fertilized eggs. Small government, my eye.

After the jump, more random thoughts.