Saturday, September 30, 2023

POTD: Moulin Rouge on Christmas Night

From 2022 12 25 Paris

"Outside, lights ignite,
Moulin Rouge on Christmas night,
Snapshot's sweet delight."

—h/t ChatGPT

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Paris. No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to the Moulin Rouge cabaret. Unfortunately, tickets for Christmas Day are not only very expensive, but sold out far in advance. So a snapshot of the outside will have to do. Ah, the memories of an imagined visit!

Friday, September 29, 2023

Blackberry (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Blackberry (2023): Meteoric rise and fall of the world's first smartphone. There's the introverted tech genius, the undisciplined techies around him, and a brash marketing genius who knows how to turn it into gold...until the crash comes. Better than most such stories. B+

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Council Recap: Goals

Source: DALL-E

At a special Saturday meeting of the Richardson City Council on September 16, 2023, the Council deliberated its goals for the 2023-2025 term. I can't provide a link to the video because there is no video. The Council decided not to televise this meeting. But in attendance was Justin Neth. If you haven't been reading his reports from City Council meetings, you are missing the best way to follow what's going on. He usually keeps his opinions to a minimum (unlike yours truly) and covers the whole meeting (unlike yours truly). I couldn't attend in person, so my opinions on this goal-setting meeting are entirely drawn from Justin Neth's own report (in which he offers his own cogent opinions).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

WAIW: Saigon Central

Saigon Central

Where Am I Wednesday!

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

Answer is after the jump.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Bones of Crows (2022)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Bones of Crows (2022): Canada. Life story of a Cree woman who was removed from her parents and raised in Canada's abusive residential school system. Elements of her life deserve a whole movie of their own. Some acting is stilted. Many images are beautiful. Overall, it's moving. B+

Monday, September 25, 2023

Council Recap: More Housing for UTD

Source: DALL-E

At the September 11 City Council meeting, the Council approved a request (ZF 23-06) to rezone 36 acres on Waterview Parkway north of UT-Dallas from technical office use to a transit-oriented, mixed-use, planned development. The vote was 5-1 (Dan Barrios voted no; Jennifer Justice was absent.) What makes this case complicated is that the property is owned by two different entities — UTD and a private developer. What makes this case simple is that one of the applicants is UTD. Usually, UTD gets what UTD wants. This case was no exception. I have two reactions.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Morocco Earthquake Aftermath

Earthquake damage in Marrakesh medina

We are on location in Marrakesh, Morocco. Life here has recovered from the recent earthquake. Some serious building damage is visible in the medina, but most buildings show nothing more than the expected wear and tear on thousand year old buildings. We didn't go into the nearby Atlas Mountains where the earthquake was centered and damage was more widespread. Recovery there will take much longer. We were thanked several times by Moroccans for coming to Morocco despite the earthquake. Tourism is important to the local economy. We are having a great visit throughout the country. Don't hesitate to make Morocco your vacation destination.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Irma Vep (1996)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Irma Vep (1996): French. Movie about moviemaking. Fading director remakes a silent movie classic, with the sexy cat burglar played by Chinese star Maggie Cheung (played by Maggie Cheung herself). Confused? Very meta. Very arty. Both homage and satire. C+


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (2018): Part love story, part WWII historical drama, part mystery movie, all heart (even a Nazi). I can't think of a movie with a better constructed plot where all the pieces fit just right and go in place at just the right time. A-


Monday, September 18, 2023

Hypnotic (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Hypnotic (2023): Police detective's daughter is kidnapped. The search to find her uncovers a web of people with power of instant mind control. Silly premise but the movie invests itself wholly in it as the web expands to ever wider reach. C-

Sunday, September 17, 2023

POTD: The City of Light at Christmas

From 2022 12 25 Paris

"Louis's power play,
In Place Vendôme's grand display,
Paris's heart today."

—h/t ChatGPT

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Place Vendôme in Paris. Place Vendôme was built by Louis XIV as a grand setting to embody absolute power in the heart of Paris. The Vendôme Column was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz.

A bonus photo is after the jump.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

POTD: Paris at Christmas

From 2022 12 25 Paris

"Champs-Élysées' charm,
Arc de Triomphe in the night,
Christmas memories."

—h/t ChatGPT

Today's photo-of-the-day is from Paris, France. Christmas in Paris: dream vacation or cliché? Regardless, our whole family gathered last year for Christmas at the home of surplus vowels and accent marks for five days of seeing as many sights as we could fit in.

Bonus photos are after the jump.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023): Miles and Gwen join an elite team of Spider-Persons in the multiverse to fight Spot, the villain of the week. A coming-of-age tale in which adults really can't understand or help. Great animation and energy. B+

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Hand of God (2021)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Hand of God (2021): Italian. Boy dreams of Maradona playing for Naples. And of sex. He wants to be Fellini, but might end up a cigarette smuggler. He's surrounded by family and friends, each one crazier than the last. Is Naples really like this? An arty coming-of-age film. B-


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Quiet Girl (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Quiet Girl (2023) Irish. Withdrawn 9-yr-old girl is sent to live with relatives for the summer, where she begins to come out of her shell. Family secrets slowly come out, too. The girl's thoughts are always private, which gives the movie a sense of foreboding. A quiet film about a quiet girl. B+

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Book Review: Killing Commendatore

From Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami:

Killing Commendatore


"It was a couple of months after I’d moved there that I discovered Tomohiko Amada’s painting Killing Commendatore. I couldn’t know it at the time, but that one painting changed my world forever."

Book Review: Killing Commendatore: Magical realism by my favorite author, Haruki Murakami. An artist, after breaking up with his wife, secludes himself in a mountain cabin belonging to a dying famous Japanese artist whose long hidden secrets emerge from a covered well. A-

After the jump, my full review.

Monday, September 11, 2023

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah (2023): Coming-of-age tale where a girl learns that BFFs are more important than any crush. For teen girls, mostly, but this old man enjoyed it. Adam Sandler's best movie, because he gave himself a minor role and cast his daughter in the lead. B-

Sunday, September 10, 2023

POTD: Sunset on the Mediterrean

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Sunset's silent bow.
Spain to Greece, voyage complete.
Sounion farewell."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken in Greece. It shows the sun setting over the Saronic Gulf from the Sounion Peninsula. It's a fitting finale to our cruise of the Mediterranean Sea from Barcelona to Athens.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

POTD: Too Late for the Show

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Two millennia,
Echoes of applause linger,
Epidaurus dreams."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken at Epidaurus, Greece, which is "best known for its healing sanctuary and the Sanctuary of Asclepius, situated about five miles (8 km) from the town, with its theatre, which is still in use today." So, were we two thousand years late for the show? Or just a few hours early?

A bonus panorama of the theatre is after the jump.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Chevalier (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Chevalier (2023): Biopic of a real 18th century French classical violinist/composer of African descent who rises (almost) to the top of society. Viewers already know that talent doesn't trump racism. Good acting and a plot that dutifully covers the high points, but ends just as things get really interesting. B-

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Flash (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

(The Flash 2023): Our hero uses time travel to try to prevent the murder of his mother. Nothing novel to this part of the story. What is fun is how many actors who have played superheroes in the movies get to reprise their roles with cameos in this movie. C+

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

A Coach Who Knows the Rules

Source: Dubey for Richardson
1964: The Free Kick Game: Vince Lombardi's Packers were the first team to ever invoke the "fair catch free kick" rule. After Elijah Pitts fair caught a punt on the Packers 48 yard line just before halftime, Vince Lombardi informed the referees that they would be trying a free kick. There was confusion among all. Neither team had ever seen it before or practiced it.

The Packers lined up on the line of scrimmage with Bart Starr holding the ball. Paul Hornung stepped up and made the 52-yard field goal as the half ended. Everyone was shocked and the Bears were embarrassed as the Packers went on to win 23-12. Lombardi said after the game it was probably a "once in a lifetime" occurrence. He was proven wrong, however, as the Bears would return the favor 4 years later, beating the Packers on the free kick.

I wasn't at that 1964 game, but I was in the stands in Lambeau Field for that 1968 game. I remember I was shocked to see this play call. That Lombardi knew the rule in 1964 doesn't surprise me. That George Halas knew the rule in 1968 doesn't surprise me either, especially after the Packers exploited it against the Bears four years earlier. Great coaches know the rules inside out.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Cocaine Bear (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Cocaine Bear (2023): Like Sharknado and Snakes on a Plane, the title says all you need to know. Each bear attack is gruesome, and humans are in the movie solely to be attacked. Movie makes light of it all. You might laugh, groan and cover your eyes. It's not bad enough to be good. C+

Monday, September 4, 2023

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023): $574 million box office. How bad can it be? Movie aims at kids, but even kids deserve more. Mario Bros. may be a fun video game, but as a movie, it's all empty calories. Depicting Bowser, the villain, with several styles of animation is the only interesting thing in this movie. D+

Sunday, September 3, 2023

POTD: Bourtzi Castle in Nafplio

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Narrow islet's grace,
Gambello's castle of stone,
Stories etched in time."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken at Nafplio, Greece. It shows Bourtzi Castle, built by the Venetians in 1471. "The design was made specifically to fit the narrow shape of the islet. At first it was used as a small castle where an executioner lived and killed prisoners. Now it's a famous tourist attraction."

A bonus photo of a closeup is after the jump.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

POTD: Ancient Tomb

From 2022 11 03 Athens

"Bronze Age's echo,
Mycenae's enigmatic
Tomb of kings and myths."

—h/t ChatGPT

This photo-of-the-day was taken at Mycenae, Greece. It shows a large underground beehive-shaped tomb constructed between 1400 and 1200 BCE. It was the largest dome in the world for a thousand years. Today, no one knows who was buried here. Sometime in the last three hundred years, it became known as the Tomb of Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae who commanded the Greeks during the Trojan War. It's also known as the Treasury of Atreus, another ancient king of Mycenae known more through myth than history.

Whatever its true history, we're talking ancient. It's during the late Bronze Age. For comparison, the pyramids were built in the early Bronze Age, a thousand years earlier than this tomb. And the Parthenon was built half a millennium later. There are centuries of history mostly lost to us today. What's left are the ruins of a few monuments.

A bonus photo of the exterior is after the jump.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Random Thoughts: It's 107 degrees


2023-08-02: Today's NextDoor top post:
"I am trying to understand why people say climate change isn't real.
It's 107 degrees."
The post was promptly deleted.
Because, of course it was.

2023-08-03: She asked, "I need WOWZA headshots. Who do you recommend?"
Without thinking, I answered, "Charlize Theron. No contest."
And that's how I got canceled.

2023-08-10: A person I was with, seeing a car's license plate bracket: "Dickinson State University. Where is that?"
Me, shrugging: "Dunno. But my guess would be it's now in the Big Ten."

2023-08-22: I ate in a fast-food restaurant today. At the POS machine the woman who waited on me told me to press "No tip" when it asked. I hesitated. She explained, "We don't get the tips. The manager does, and he's not here."

More random thoughts can be found on Mastodon.