Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Christmas : Nice and Boring

I know we elected Biden to bring us back to normal and all, but couldn' that have been in politics, not Christmas decorations? 

Jill's are kind of dull:

Here is how Slate described it:

Here’s how the Bidens explained the theme:

The things we hold sacred unite us and transcend distance, time, and even the constraints of a pandemic: faith, family, and friendship; a love of the arts, learning, and nature; gratitude, service, and community; unity and peace. These are the gifts that tie together the heart strings of our lives.

That leaves me with a few questions: If these are gifts from the heart, how do they also tie together heartstrings? But also, what? Isn’t Jill Biden an English teacher? This confusing bit of word salad is reminiscent of those obnoxious giant hearts saying things like “Unity” she put out on the lawn for Valentine’s Day. If other outlets have interpreted the statement correctly, it details a list of sort of subthemes of “Gifts From the Heart”—it seems like they couldn’t figure out how to actually decorate using such a vague theme, so they gave slightly more substantive, but still vague, themes to some of the rooms. The State Dining Room, for example, represents the gift of family, so there are stockings for the Biden grandchildren on the mantle (though aren’t they missing one for Hunter Biden’s other baby?). That same room has photos of past presidents and their families on one of the trees—including Trump.me

On the other hand, Melanie's were never boring. Ugly, sure. But not boring.

Just saying.

Some Great Museums

 Someone say Bucket List? These museums are rocking. (full list)

Blue Planet Aquarium, which sits just outside Copenhagen, is an abstract building that effortlessly embodies its function through its architectural form. Designed to resemble whirlpools, the biomimic forms are representative of the organic nature of sea life. Its shingled exterior is transformed by the ever-changing Danish weather, while the icy waters of the Øresund strait at its banks brilliantly reflect and illuminate the structure.

Unlike most aquariums, the flow within the space is reminiscent of that of a museum. It has five distinct vortex-like “arms” that each houses a separate exhibition. The interiors range from grand to intimate settings, allowing the architecture and the exhibits to jointly convey an array of diverse environments and moods.

The Musée Atelier Audemars Piget is a celebration of the heritage of Switzerland. Set beside the original workshop where the Audemars Piguet story began in 1875, the new all-glass structure comprises two spirals that integrate into the landscape seamlessly. 

“Located at the top of Mount Kronplatz with its unique views of the Dolomites, MMM Corones is the final piece in my series of mountain museums,” explains Reinhold Messner. “Dedicated to the great rock faces of the world, the museum will focus on the discipline of mountaineering.”

A composition of fluid, interconnected volumes, the 1000-square-meter. MMM Corones design is carved within the mountainside. Its distinctive style and shape are entirely informed by the geology and topography of its alpine context. An undulating ramp connects the exhibition spaces to create dynamic volumes for circulation that house temporary exhibitions, presentation areas and an auditorium.

V&A Dundee was designed by renowned award-winning Japanese architects Kengo Kuma & Associates following an international competition. The form of the hulking museum is inspired by the sharp cliffs of Scotland and the city’s maritime roots as the key entry point to Scotland for shipping from northern Europe. Dramatic lines of pre-cast concrete run horizontally around the curving concrete walls, creating patterns of shadows that change with the weather and the time of day. At its most dramatic point, the building angles nearly 65 feet (20 meters) past its base.

Monday, November 29, 2021

I think there is another cause too

There is an article in Time Magazine about how single people today care less about looks. They find a rise in need for commitment, emotional compatibility and a decrease in the power of physical attractiveness.

Now Time credits these changes to Covid and Covid lockdowns that have reshaped what is important, and that is no doubt part of it. But I also think hook-up apps have a lot to do with it.

Here is why I say this. If one uses a hook-up app like Tinder, a ton of people see you and vice versa. Given that you are probably many people's type, it is easy to match with someone you find very physically attractive. And by "match" I mean often have sex with. But you soon learn that beautiful people can also be dicks. Sometimes it seems almost like a prerequisite. 

I don't claim to be cute, but you are someone's perfect type. When I was a bartender, I did "date" some gorgeous men. Like stunning. You learn pretty quickly that stunning is not the panacea that you want it to be.  Much more important is humor, confidence and emotional intelligence. Cute helps a lot, but it isn't the biggest factor. So, I think this progression is surprisingly tied to people having a way to hook up with almost anyone you want to.

You pretty quickly realize you want more.

(PS - I think my husband is as hot as hell, and confident and funny. I hit the jackpot.)

For a moment, let's be happy

Look, this is a positive (for justice) result. The crime was covered up by two different prosecutors (both removed after an outcry). The video, which ultimately lead to the arrest, was hid from the public for months, and it was leaked - not released by the police. The attack by 3 white men on a single black jogger brought angst to those wanting justice. Their defense of "self defense" seemed less spurious after the release of Kyle Rittenhouse.

The guilty verdicts restored some sense of equality and justice in our system (at lest some of mine). So let us celebrate it, while acknowledging there is still work to do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Quiz: Where should I live?

The New York Times has a very cool electronic quiz on where to live. You have different things to look at and you get an answer. I am going to show you how the author used it.

But first I am going to show you what options there are. Note, I used a single check on gay bars as a representative indicator for "not freaked out by gays".

Now the authors journey.

For me, without gay bars, it is a bunch of places in Kentucky. With gay bars, almost all West Coast. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Problems in Bosnia

There is a great article from one of the students I worked with in Sarajevo. It explains what is going on there now, and it isn't good. I'll summarize for those not familiar with Bosnian politics. 

And, while it may not seem important, the wars in the 1990s caused death, displacement and systematic rape of muslim women - and pulled in European and American forces.

The Bosnian war ended in a fragile peace that was designed to be replaced by a elected government within 5 years. That is the Dayton Peace Accords, negotiated in part by Warren Christopher, President Clinton's Secretary of State, and Richard Holbrook, lead negotiator. (Just as aside, this was one of the major areas where US involvement was very effective. So effective that Bosniaks still have a great opinion of Americans.

That was over 20 years ago. To end the war, one of the details was to divide the country into two units temporarily. The Srpska Republic, made up of Serbian Bosnians (Orthodox) and the Bosnia / Croat Federation, made up of Bosniaks (Muslims) and Croats (Catholics).

Occasionally the Serbians in Srpska demand to be confederated with Serbia. This has always been opposed by the Bosniaks and Croats, because it would lead to war or a rump state that is not viable (the entire country is the size of West Virginia). It is also opposed by the European forces that kept the peace for decades and the Americans who do not want to be drug into another conflict.

But patience rewards despotes that are persistent. In this case the Serbian head of the Srpska Republic has announced he plans to pull out of Bosnia in deed if not officially yet. He plans his own Bosnian Serbian army, seperate from the Bosnian Government. He has then announced plans to secede and join Serbia. This will probably cause another war in the region.

With problems in European Union and with America's attention elsewhere, the Serbian leader has not had any real (external) pushback. The Srpska entity is getting diplomatic support from Russia and China, who sense a foothold in Europe via Serbia and Serbian interests. They have prevented the UN from even hearing from the Bosnian representative in the Security Council.

They support Serbia, in part, to deny the West from another diplomatic win in the region. Four post-Yugoslav states have entered NATO (Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and North Macedonia). The first two are members of the EU. A war in this region will be terrible.

Anywho, watch the region. It could be trouble.

Things to be Thankful For this Thanksgiving

Okay, this cartoon is funny. It is from Tom Tomorrow, where you can support him at https://thismodernworld.com/ . I liked him in the old analog days, and still love him.

Select image to make it bigger.

I also love the postscript "Happy Thanksgiving from T.M.W.. The cartoon whose optimism is rivaled only by its brevity." It speaks to me.

Saw "Tick Tick Boom" yesterday

Yesterday and I went to a real live movie theater to see Tick Tick Boom. I know it is on Netflix, but it is also in theaters and we decided to try the big screen and big music. 

I loved it. I did think it started a little slowly (Ed did not), but quickly I loved it. For those of you theater-geeks (Mickey) you cannot believe the cameos - Bernadette Peters, Bebe Neuwirth, Chita Fucking Rivera, and so many more!

It is the story of Jonathan Larson, the guy that wrote Rent. It isn't about Rent, it is about Larson's struggles to get his first play produced (which had great music and was weird as shit).

It isn't a musical, but it is a story with lots of music in it.

PS - I loved it and I don't even particularly find Andrew Garfield handsome. Although that could be his name. I always think of Garfield the Cat.

Next Up: National Geographics great animal shots

 National Geographic has some amazing pictures. You get 3 free articles at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/ so proceed at your own pace.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

These are elephants (duh) in the Namibian strip. A slice of Namibia that was extremely hard to get to. I am not sure how easy it is now.

Okay, while not technically an animal, this surprised the hell out me. See below.

Apparently sometime a long time ago, there was a grove of redwoods planted, that are doing great. They were actually planted in Victoria, South Australia. Given the ferns and weather, it looks like these are Coast Redwoods. There is a grove in the United States, just north of San Francisco and a lot in Northern Coastal California, which is kind of wet and cold in the winter and wet and warm in the summer.

Parakeets from Ecuador, these are feasting on a clay link, which normally means getting salt.

Animals to make me feel better; First Up a NEW Bird

Okay, clearly it isn't a "new" bird. But it is a bird that has never been seen before. This is from the Amazon Rainforest in Peru. True, most of the rainforest is in Brazil, but parts are in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. 

This particular bird was spotting in Peru. It is a tanager, which are usually small, brightly colored birds. This particular new bird, like many tanagers, is a fruit eater, which helps to explain the bill form.

Anywho, it is cute. And below some info about tanagers.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

I think this could go one of two ways

After the Kyle Rittenhouse's - "fuck you" to liberals - verdict. It seems to me that this could go one of 2 ways.  "This" in the sentence above refers to laws in America.

1. Is the good way.  The laws change about "self-defense" in Wisconsin and maybe other states. Juries in Georgia and Virginia find the three white guys that killed Armund Arbery guilty and the white supremacists from Charlotte guilty (respectively). 

It is kind of telling that the "best" outcome does not include any rollback of gun laws. Becasue it will not happen.

2. In the bad way. Juries continue to define "self-defense" as any white guy that is "afraid" of a black man can kill him (the reverse is not, and has never been, true). The Supreme Courts finds that the New York law controlling where concealed carry is illegal and people are free to carry concealed weapons in the states of New York, Massachusetts and California. Republican "legislators", who are trolls, continue to offer Kyle a job in Washington because he is "an American Hero".

Can it get worse? OMG yes. The limit of states ability to make ever more loose gun laws grows tougher every time. Now, having won in every state they can, they are trying to use the Supreme Court and Congress to expand gun laws all across America.

Friday, November 19, 2021

So, if you wonder where we are here in the US

Nothing says USA like letting white men go free to murder people. 

In case one does not remember or know about how this death started... At a domestic disturbance call, - a black man was trying to help quell two women fighting.  A white cop responded to the call (you already know where this is going). The police did not believe the black guy, or the two women fighting, who all said he wasn't involved. And he was not doing anything wrong. The police officer decided to detain the man. The man had kids in his car, as he went to explain what was going on to them, he was shot 7 times IN THE BACK, because the officer was "afraid" there was a knife in the car.

The Black man is now permanently in a wheelchair.

One might assume that shooting the good samaritan once or twice or six times would be enough, but. No. Seven times must be the cop's lucky number. So this policeman shot unarmed man 7 times in front of the man's children in the car. The policeman was, of course, not punished because he thought he might be in danger.

Because of this, there were protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And the protests did turn into riots on the first night. 

On the second night of possible protests, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17 year old, drove from Illinois to Wisconsin to protect a car dealership. He took an AK47 (illegal for minors) across state lines with said gun (again illegal for minors). While nervously patrolling, Kyle shot and killed 2 men and shot and injured a third. Kyle then tried to give himself up to the police. But the police would not arrest him, in fact the police gave Kyle water and sent him on his way - and thanked him for helping (note - helping in this case is killing 2 and injury 1).

Today, he was found not guilty because he was scared. Again, he illegally crossed state lines with an illegal gun. He killed two people who didn't have a weapon because he was nervous and scared. He shot the third who was trying to take his gun before Kyle ended up killing more people. Neither of the 2 people he killed did anything to him, but Kyle was "afraid". Kyle brought a sub-machine gun to another state to protect a car lot, but HE was afraid.

Welcome to the crazy state of American political theater. Oh yeah, a Congressmen wants to hire Kyle as an assistant in Congress because... Who the fuck knows. I guess because he is already a hero for killing protesters.

I can't even think of anything to say.

Well, I can, but Get Me The Fuck Outta Here, is probably not helpful.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Review of "Trouble in Mind" is up.

Eddie and I saw Trouble in Mind in previews. It opened last night and here is my review (spoiler - fantastic). LINK

The first part

Trouble in Mind is Relevant and Fantastic

Trouble in Mind is an eerily precedent show. Written and premiering off-Broadway in 1955, it is an illuminating show about the depictions of black actors on stage and screen. Producers, who wanted to take the show to Broadway in 1957, ironically asked the author to tone down the Black references in the play. Which is specifically what the play is about. Playwright Alice Childress would not comply, and so we come to the Broadway Premiere of Trouble in Mind some 66 years late. It was worth the wait.


Trouble in Mind speaks to many of us. If you grew up watching old movies or TV, author Alice Childress’ play leads you to question your own memories and stereotypes. The play is funny and angry, justifiably so. What is a heart breaking is how little, in the 66 years since this was written, has changed.

(from right) Tony Winners LaChanze, Chuck Cooper and also Mr Maziel - Michael Zegen

Anywho, it was really really good.

Random shit from my photos

 I take a bunch of pictures I find interesting, even though they all don't work out.  Here is just some random things I thought were interesting.

Okay this is more hilarious, than interesting. If you know, Eddie and I are friends with Sam Underwood, an actor. He is right now in Dynasty. And Dynasty has him with an odd storyline. He started as a fake veterinarian to put the moves on Fallon's ex-husband. He quickly became a real veterinarian somehow.  He moved to Atlanta (location of this version of Dynasty) and announced he was Blake's long lost son. In Atlanta he became the team doctor for the Atlanta Soccer Club. Then he became a surgeon at an Atlanta hospital. Then he became Chief of Surgery. Pretty amazing for a fake vet!

Like most actors, Sam is following a workout diet plan. But Netflix has chosen his himbo picture to advertise for Netflix. It is a picture he is thrilled with, shown to millions of people a day. He is not amused.

This is a old Packard that Lynn and I saw outside of Hot Springs. It had been beautifully restored.

Like New York, Hot Springs has some very old signs written on walls. The building that was here was torn down to make a small parking lot, and the original side of the building next door was revealed.  It is cool.

I put this up before, but I do love the Beaux Arts lettering here from 1930. If you can't read it right away, it says "Medical Arts Building".

I shared some pictures from the Banksy exhibit. This is from a hotel lobby he actually built. It is all a bit of a jumble, but I do LOVE the surveillance cameras mounted on the wall like deer heads.

None needed

Eddie and I went with a friend to watch his son play soccer one morning a few weeks ago.  it was fun, but what you would expect, a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds running up and down the field. Léon was playing goalie and it was fun (his parents are French).

While we were there I took some pictures of the train bridge above the park. it was from a time when buildings were designed to be elegant, not just utilitarian.

That's it for this edition of cool things I've seen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Now THAT'S a name.

Charles Randolph-Wright

I'm writing up a review for Trouble in Mind (FYI - stunning). And, I am noting who the the Director is. His name is Charles Randolph-Wright. That's hell of a name! I'm thinking riding weekends at Bunny's and debutante balls.

But no, Charles R-W is an experienced director, actor and producer. He has directed 3 TV series, and over 10 movies. He has acted in Melrose Place and Falcon Crest among others.

This is his real picture.

Assumptions. Can't live with them, can't stop having them .

I Feel Thin

 Mentally. I feel thin mentally.

I feel like things, politically and socially, have taken giants bites out of me. And, sometimes, I feel like one more bit would be enough to scream. If I have enough left to scream.

Hi Ho.

I find this touching

This is popular in California and Arizona (maybe other places I haven't been). It is the Virgin Mary - who isn't a saint because apparently the Catholics think she is somewhere above a Saint, but below holy. And, although the got rid of purgatory, apparently Virgin Mary still somewhere in between.

Anywho, I find these bathtub Marys sweet and touching. Kind of like the house shrines to dead relatives or gods in China, Vietnam and India.

I don't know if it gives comfort to people, but I really hope it does. They make me feel better.

National Geographic's Top 100 Wonders of the World - Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe was discovered when I was 34 (1995). So I am not sure how much, of any of this, is well known by people our age. No offense.

Gobekli Tepe upended our understanding of ancient people. 6,000 years before Stonehenge and 5,500 years before the Pyramids of the Nile, Gobekli Tepe was built. It was found buried in the sands of Anatolia - now central Turkey.

They are not sure what Gobekli Tepe was. Most think now it was a temple complex that people from all around might come to in order to worship or pray or here their priests and shaymen.

They are constantly finding more of it, and in fact there is, perhaps, a settlement / city found nearby. Which would make sense because there are no bodies, food or anything else in Gobekli Tepe that indicate people actually lived there. Fairly nearby they have just found remains that might be a city from the same time. Here they have found buildings as well as bones, food and ancient trash (broken bones, broken pottery and other things.

So the mystery continues. We all thought for millennia that we were the first to conquer nature. The pyramids were the oldest thing in the world and that was that. We know that is wrong now. There is a big world out there. Before an ice age, before earthquakes might have buried them and climate changed made them abandoned. Who knows what we will find next.

The tale of Chiselborough

 Our second dog sit in England this past month was in Chiselborough. Which is a village of about 100 - 125. It was in the middle of nowhere....