Sunday, December 17, 2017

'Game of Thrones,' 'The Handmaid's Tale,' and 'Stranger Things' nominated for Drama Series at the 2018 WGA Awards


I ended 'The Handmaid's Tale' leads speculative fiction on television at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards by writing "I'll see if I have the time and energy for the WGA Awards tomorrow."  It seems I have, so here goes.

As I wrote when I reported last year's speculative fiction nominees at the Writers Guild Awards, "there appears to be critical and popular consensus both on which speculative fiction shows are best, but also that they are among the best shows on television right now."  Replace popular with professional, as the People's Choice Awards will effectively skip this year, and the same is happening with this year's speculative fiction series and miniseries now that the WGA has weighed in.  The drama series are "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things," which have shown up on four nomination or award lists so far this month (five in the case of "Game of Thrones" because of its soundtrack nomination at the Grammys.  The miniseries is "American Horror Story: Cult," although the Hollywood Foreign Press Association likes "Twin Peaks" better.  Expect this to be true all the way to the Emmy Awards next year, as there will be second season of "The Handmaid's Tale" airing within the Emmy eligibility window.  However, the Emmy Awards should have a fourth speculative fiction drama to recognize, as the second season of "Westworld" will air in the spring as well.  The current Golden Age of speculative fiction on television will continue for at least another year!

In addition to "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things" being nominated for Drama Series, "The Handmaid's Tale" earned a nomination for New Series.  I expect the Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel to be the favorite to win both.  "American Horror Story: Cult" is the sole speculative fiction in Long Form Original.  Short Form New Media Adapted has episodes of speculative fiction series as three of its four nominees, two episodes of "Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot" and one of "The Walking Dead: Red Machete."  Once again, the short form series in "The Walking Dead" universe get more love than the main shows.  Speaking of missing love, an episode of "The Leftovers" earned a nomination for Episodic Drama.  That's a series that I thought was neglected during its three-season run.  Competing against it is "The OA."

Three shows, "Bob's Burgers," "BoJack Horseman," and "The Simpsons," occupy all five slots in Animated Series, as "BoJack Horseman" and "The Simpsons" have two episodes each nominated.  Two shows with fantastic elements, "Just Add Magic" and "The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special," earned nominations for Children's Episodic and Specials.

Science and technology appear in the nominations of "Silicon Valley" for Comedy Series and "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" for Long Form Adapted.

Follow over the jump for all the nominees in the above categories plus my opinions about their chances.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

'The Handmaid's Tale' leads speculative fiction on television at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards


I'm going to break a promise I made at the beginning of 'The Shape of Water' and 'Get Out' lead speculative fiction at the movies at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards.
Since I wrote that at the conclusion of A good year for speculative fiction in the AFI top movies and TV shows of 2017, I've decided to mix things up a bit and cover the movie nominees for the Golden Globes first.  I'll still cover the WGA Awards nominees/A> tomorrow.
No, I'm not.  I decided it would be easier to continue with the television nominees for the Golden Globes instead.  I'll see if I have the time and energy for the WGA Awards tomorrow.

Speculative fiction on television had more representatives in fewer categories than in the movies.  Five shows earned a total of eight nominations or six show with nine nominations if "Mr. Robot" counts as speculative fiction.  The leading drama series is "The Handmaid's Tale" with three nominations, Best Television Series — Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television.  This ties it with the other leading drama series, "This Is Us."  Next is "Stranger Things 2" with two nominations, Best Television Series — Drama and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television.  The last speculative fiction show nominated for Best Television Series — Drama is "Game of Thrones."  Yes, the shows nominated for Best Television Series — Drama are the same three speculative fiction dramas that were named AFI TV shows of 2017 and also nominated for Best Drama Series at the 2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards.  Once again, it's both easy to see which are the best speculative fiction series and recognize that they are also among the best on American television.

Three other series earned one nomination each.  Caitriona Balfe of "Outlander" is competing against Elisabeth Moss of "The Handmaid's Tale" for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama.  Kyle MacLachlan of "Twin Peaks" earned a nomination for Best Performance By an Actor in a Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.  Finally, Christian Slater of "Mr. Robot" is competing against David Harbour of "Stranger Things 2" for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Follow over the jump for the Golden Globes television nominations that recognize speculative fiction film from Vox.

Friday, December 15, 2017

'The Shape of Water' and 'Get Out' lead speculative fiction at the movies at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards

I'll have more tomorrow with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards nominees and over the weekend with the Golden Globes nominees.  Stay tuned.
Since I wrote that at the conclusion of A good year for speculative fiction in the AFI top movies and TV shows of 2017, I've decided to mix things up a bit and cover the movie nominees for the Golden Globes first.  I'll still cover the WGA Awards nominees/A> tomorrow.  In the meantime, here are the Golden Globes movie nominations that recognize speculative fiction film from Vox.
Best Picture — Drama

Call Me by Your Name

Dunkirk

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This is the first of seven nominations for "The Shape of Water," the most of any film at these awards.  That makes the Golden Globes the second awards show after the 'Critics' Choice Movie Awards to honor Guillermo Del Toro's fantasy as not only the most nominated speculative fiction film of the year, but the most nominated film of the year, period.
Best Picture — Comedy or Musical

The Disaster Artist

Get Out

The Greatest Showman

I, Tonya

Lady Bird
The second most nominated speculative fiction film at the Golden Globes is "Get Out" with two nominations.  The good news is that it's not competing against "The Shape of Water."  The bad news is that it is competing against films that actually are comedies.  That may not hurt it, as "The Martian" was nominated as a comedy at the Golden Globes two years ago and it won two Golden Globes in the same categories that "Get Out" is nominated in this year.  That might mitigate the ugly news, which is that nominating a horror film as a comedy may seem a bit insulting.  After all, "Black Swan," the last horror film to win an AFI Film of the Year, earned four nominations and one win as a drama in the Golden Globes seven years ago.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominees.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A good year for speculative fiction in the AFI top movies and TV shows of 2017


When I called 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards "the opening salvo of what will be a barrage of major awards shows," I was not kidding.  The American Film Institute (AFI) announced its movies and television shows of the year last week.  Here is a video of the AFI Top Ten Films of 2017.


Just for completeness, Deadline lists the AFI Top 10 Movies Of 2017: ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Get Out’, ‘Shape Of Water’, ‘The Post’ & More.
AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR

The Big Sick
Call Me By Your Name
Dunkirk
The Florida Project
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wonder Woman
Yes, three of the top ten movies of the year are speculative fiction movies, "Get Out," "The Shape of Water," and "Wonder Woman."  That's not unheard of, as 2015, an outstanding year for science fiction films, had four, "Inside Out," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and every year this century has had at least one speculative fiction movie on the list.  However, "Wonder Woman" is the first superhero movie since "The Dark Knight Rises" in 2012 and "Get Out" is the first horror movie since "Black Swan" in 2010 to make the list.  That's noteworthy that movies in these two genres have been recognized, particularly in the same year.


As if that was not enough, here are the television winners of the AFI Awards: ‘The Good Place’, ‘Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘Insecure’, ‘This Is Us’, ‘Stranger Things’ Among TV Honorees.
Big Little Lies, HBO
The Crown, Netflix
Feud: Bette and Joan, FX
Game of Thrones, HBO
The Good Place, NBC
The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu
Insecure, HBO
Master of None, Netflix
Stranger Things 2, Netflix
This Is Us, NBC
Speculative fiction did even better on television than at the movies with four honorees in speculative fiction genres, "Game of Thrones" and "The Good Place" in fantasy, "The Handmaid's Tale" in science fiction, and "Stranger Things 2" in horror.  In fact, this is the best year so far for speculative fiction on television at these awards, as the previous high was three in 2006 with "Battlestar Galactica," "Heroes," and "South Park."  It's going to be an interesting awards season, even down to next June's Saturn Awards.

Finally, "The Vietnam War," the Ken Burns documentary series from PBS, earned an AFI Special Award.  I might mention that in a post about political, historical, and legal nominees.

I'll have more tomorrow with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards nominees and over the weekend with the Golden Globes nominees.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Happy Hanukkah 2017 (5778) from Detroit!


Happy Hanukkah!  This year, I return the celebration to Detroit from last year's Hanukkah in the White House partly on general principles and partly because Trump invited no Jewish Democrats from Congress to the celebration.  How rude!

WXYZ didn't have any video from this year's celebration, but they had these clips from last year, beginning with Menorah in the D.


One of my former students wore that dreidl suit one year.  Who knows, he could be in it now.

That was the preview, now for the event itself.

The city of Detroit is celebrating Hanukkah with the Menorah in the D celebration.
Looks like lots of fun.

Seeing Anu Prakash interview the Rabbi reminds me of this story from the Detroit Free Press: Jewish, Hindu communities unite for first joint Hanukkah-Diwali celebration in Michigan.
Inside a Hindu temple in Troy, the priests recited in Sanskrit an opening prayer calling for peace: "Om shanti, shanti, shanti."

Moments later, a rabbi recited in Hebrew prayers for Hanukkah as another Jewish leader lit a menorah candle.

The scene inside the Bharatiya Temple in Troy Thursday night was part of what organizers say was the first-ever joint celebration of Hanukkhah and Diwali, the Jewish and Hindu holidays celebrated late in the year. About 250 gathered inside a prayer hall in the Hindu temple to sing, pray and nosh on Jewish and Indian food -- potato latkes and jelly donuts representing Hanukkah delights and samosas and sweets for the Indian side -- followed by a panel discussion about the meaning of the holidays for the two minority communities.

"There's a need for dialogue across various barriers," Nasy Sankagiri, a temple member of Bloomfield Hills, said to the predominantly Jewish crowd. "We thought this is a great idea to come together, celebrating the lighting of the lamps."
I second this emotion.  We could use more of it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An attack ad and drink for today's special Senate election in Alabama


I haven't had anything to say about the Alabama special election for U.S. Senator here.  Since it's being held today, I'd better hurry before the entire topic turns into a pumpkin.  Besides, last week I wrote about Conyers resigns, setting up scramble for his seat, so it's time to give a Republican equal time for his problems.

Talking Points Memo posted both the video of a web attack ad and its text.

“Roy Moore has infiltrated our Alabama communities and his rap sheet reads like a serial sexual predator,” the ad’s narrator says as prison rap sheet-like images with Moore’s face flash onscreen. “His record from the Alabama Supreme Court paints an even darker picture. Judge Moore has repeatedly sided with rapists and sexual predators. These aren’t Alabama values. On Tuesday, Dec. 12, vote no on Roy Moore.”
This makes Moore sound like he should be in the slammer instead of the Senate.  His opponent, Doug Jones, actually put people in the slammer as a U.S. Attorney.  Hmm.  I have the drink with the perfect name for this contest, the Alabama Slammer.  Take it away Skyy and Brittany!

It's fun, delicious and easy to make...THE ALABAMA SLAMMER! This supposedly a favorite drink of NFL Quarterback Brett Favre.
...
THE ALABAMA SLAMMER
3/4 oz. (22ml) Sloe Gin
3/4 oz. (22ml) Southern Comfort
3/4 oz. (22ml) Amaretto
Top with Orange Juice
The Alabama Slammer, a place Moore is lucky to have avoided.  May the voters of Alabama agree with me today that Moore should not be in the U.S. Senate.

ETA: On the Booman Tribune version of this post, I added a music video:

I close with a song dedication to Moore: Little Girls by Oingo Boingo.



Welcome to Moore's new theme song.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Speculative fiction and science at the 2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards


I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the television nominees after a post about the Nobel Prize winners" at the end of 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards.  I begin my delivery of that promise with the acting and series nominees for comedies and dramas from KTLA on YouTube.

This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News, Wednesday, December 06, 2017.
Unlike the movie nominations, no one series dominated the nominations for television series, as six drama series earned three nominations each.  Four of them are speculative fiction series, "American Gods," "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things 2," all of which are nominated for Best Drama Series.  The other two are "This is Us," also nominated for Best Drama Series, and "The Good Fight," which has three acting nominations.  Two other speculative fiction shows, "Outlander" and "Orphan Black," both have their female leads nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series.  Two shows that are speculative-fiction-adjacent thrillers, "Bates Motel" (horror) and "Mr. Robot" (science fiction), also have one nomination each, "Bates Motel" for Actor in a Drama Series and "Mr. Robot" for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.  That's 16 out of 30 possible nominations in the drama categories for speculative fiction, a very good showing for genre television.

Speculative fiction didn't fare as well in comedy, as there is only one nominated comedy series that qualifies as speculative fiction, "The Good Place," a fantasy.  It has two nominations for acting, Ted Danson for Best Actor in a Comedy and Kristen Bell for Best Actress in a Comedy.  Otherwise, the shows that are adjacent are comedies about scientists and engineers, "The Big Bang Theory" and "Silicon Valley," which have two nominations each.  None of them are the most nominated comedy series.  That honor goes to Netflix's wrestling show "GLOW" with four, including Best Comedy Series, where its competition includes "The Big Bang Theory" but not "The Good Place" or "Silicon Valley."

Deadline has the rest of the nominations for miniseries, movies, and animated shows.  There, one show did stand out, "Feud: Bette and Joan" with six nominations, the most of any show at these awards.  Fortunately, the sole nominated speculative fiction miniseries, "American Horror Story: Cult," is not competing against it in any category, having been nominated for Best Actor in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series.  Neither is one of the two nominations about science and scientists, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," which is nominated for Best Movie Made for TV.  On the other hand, "Genius," is competing against "Feud: Bette and Joan," having been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series.

The final category consists of almost nothing but speculative fiction.  Best Animated Series has "Archer," "Bob’s Burgers," "BoJack Horseman," "Danger & Eggs," "Rick and Morty," and "The Simpsons" as nominees.  The middle three, "BoJack Horseman," "Danger & Eggs," "Rick and Morty," probably have the strongest fantastic and science fictional elements, while "The Simpsons" has aliens as guest stars and an annual horror show on Halloween.

Follow over the jump for all the categories that include speculative fiction nominees along with my thoughts about their chances. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Science fiction, activism, science, and economics for Nobel Prize Day 2017


For the Sunday entertainment entry, I'm going to do what I did last year for Bob Dylan, feature the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Normally, I'd have done this in October, when the winners are announced, but I was too busy writing about the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  However, I have a second chance today, as it's Nobel Prize Day.
The Nobel Laureates are announced at the beginning of October each year. A couple of months later, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, they receive their prizes from the Swedish King – a Nobel diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish crowns per prize. All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. (When Alfred Nobel was alive, Norway and Sweden were united under one monarch, until 1905 when Norway became an independent kingdom with its own king.)
Euronews has the story in Kazuo Ishiguro wins 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

It was announced by Professor Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

Japanese-born Ishiguro won the prize for uncovering "the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world," the Swedish Academy said on awarding the nine million crown ($1.1 million/936,000 euros) prize.
While his most famous novel is probably the Booker Prize winner "The Remains of the Day," which was made into an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning movie, Ishiguro deserves being mentioned here because of his dystopian science fiction novel "Never Let Me Go" and fantasy novel "The Buried Giant."  The former was made into a movie written by Alex Garland and starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightley that was nominated for five Saturn Awards, Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress for Mulligan, Best Supporting Actor for Garfield, Best Supporting Actor for Knightley, and Best Writing for Garland; Garfield won.*  Yes, a speculative fiction writer won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

That's not unheard of.  The question Was any science-fiction or fantasy author ever awarded the Nobel prize for literature? attracted a list of laureates who have written speculative fiction in the answers, including Doris Lessing, William Golding, Rudyard Kipling, Hermann Hesse, and William Butler Yeats.  Still, all are the kind of authors I examined in Part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? When SF novels became best-sellers -- authors who made their reputations writing mainstream works and only later wrote speculative fiction, particularly science fiction.  Ishiguro fits that mold.  I won't hold that against him; I'm just happy a speculative fiction author won.

Follow over the jump as the Nobel Prizes shift from fantasy to reality.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards


Awards season has begun and I am marking it by reminding my readers that I told them in the conclusion of 2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television to "Stay tuned for this year's nominees for the Critics' Choice Awards."  Wochit Entertainment has the headline for the opening salvo of what will be a barrage of major awards shows: The Shape of Water Dominates Critics’ Choice Awards Nominations.*

Nominations for the 2018 Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards have been announced. Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi romance The Shape of Water stole the show with a dominating 14 nominations [including] Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.
Deadline lists all of them, which I've re-ordered to suit my priorities: Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Actress for Sally Hawkins, Best Supporting Actor for Richard Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, Best Original Screenplay for Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Best Cinematography for Dan Laustsen, Best Production Design for Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeff Melvin, Best Editing for Sidney Wolinsky, Best Costume Design for Luis Sequeira, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Alexandre Desplat.  Wow!  Not only do these 14 nominations lead speculative fiction films, they lead all films nominated.  Four films, "Dunkirk," "Call Me By Your Name," "Lady Bird," and "The Post," are six nominations behind at eight each.  I had thought either "Beauty and the Beast" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" to be the best fantasy film of 2017.  No longer.  I now think "The Shape of Water" will be the favorite in that category at the Saturn Awards and in Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie here in the Critics' Choice Awards.

The next most nominated speculative fiction film is "Blade Runner 2049" with seven nominations, including Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, Best Production Design for Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Best Editing for Joe Walker, Best Costume Design for Renée April, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer.  In every single category, it is  up against "The Shape of Water."  I don't like its chances, either here, where "The Shape of Water" would be favored, or at the Saturn Awards, where I expect "The Last Jedi" will clobber it for Best Science Fiction Film and a bunch of other awards.

Deadline didn't even notice "Blade Runner 2049."  Instead, its article mentioned "Get Out," which has five nominations.  It is going head-to-head with "The Shape of Water" in four categories, Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Director for Jordan Peele, and Best Original Screenplay, also for Jordan Peele.  Only Daniel Kaluuya as Best Actor escapes competing with a nominee from "The Shape of Water."  While I think "Get Out" is the best non-supernatural horror film of the year, which means it will be nominated for Best Thriller Film at the Saturn Awards and most likely win that category, I doubt it will win anything other than Best Original Screenplay at the Critics' Choice Awards.  Even here, it's an underdog to more conventional films.

In fourth place among speculative fiction films with, appropriately enough, four nominations is "Beauty and the Beast," my pick for best fantasy film of the year until "The Shape of Water" came along.  The live-action remake of a Disney animated classic earned nods for Best Production Design for Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Best Costume Design for Jacqueline Durran, Best Hair and Makeup, and Best Song for "Evermore."  In the first three categories, it is up against either or both of "The Shape of Water" and "Blade Runner 2049" and in the last it is competing with a song from  Disney/Pixar film "Coco" and a Grammy Award nominee from "Marshall."  I'm ambivalent about its chances in any of those categories.

Three superhero films tie for fifth with three nominations, "Logan," "Thor: Ragnarok," and "Wonder Woman," all of which are nominated for Best Action Movie.  The critics think "Logan" has better acting with Patrick Stewart nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Dafne Keen for Best Young Actor/Actress.  I expect both will be nominated in the equivalent categories at the Saturn Awards.  In contast, "Wonder Woman" has better technical achievement, being nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects.  "Thor: Ragnarok" has both good acting and technical achievement with Chris Hemsworth earning a surprising nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy (I guess he's that funny) and the film competing with "Blade Runner 2049," "The Shape of Water," "Wonder Woman," "War for the Planet of the Apes," and "Dunkirk" for Best Visual Effects.  I'm not confident about any prediction for that field!  On the other hand, if I'm confident about any prediction of mine, it's that "Wonder Woman" is the favorite to win Best Action Movie.  It's also among my two favorites to win Best Comic-Book-to-Film Adaptation or its equivalent at the Saturn Awards.

"War for the Planet of the Apes" earned two nominations, Best Action Film and Best Visual Effects.  I think the first is misplaced (it should be the fifth nominee for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film), while the second shows the strength of screen capture and CGI to portray its ape characters.  The other speculative fiction film to garner two nominations is the Disney/Pixar film "Coco" for Best Animated Film and Best Song for "Remember Me."  I think it might win Best Animated Film.  I'm not as confident that it will win Best Song against "Stand Up for Something" from "Marshall" by Common and Diane Warren.

Seven speculative fiction films have one nomination each. "It," my pick for best surpernatural horror film of the year, is nominated for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film.  I doubt it will win at these awards, but I think it's a lock for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards.  Hong Chau earned the one nomination for "Downsizing" as Best Supporting Actress.  The other four nominees for Best Animated Feature, "The Breadwinner," "Despicable Me 3," "The LEGO Batman Movie," and "Loving Vincent," have their only nomination in this category.  Finally, "Thelma," which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, has enough fantastic elements for me to consider it speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for all the categories that include speculative fiction nominees along with my thoughts about their chances.

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television


At the end of 'Chasing Coral': awards and nominations and looking forward to next year's Emmys 4, I told my readers I found another set of entertainment awards right up my alley.
I discovered the Environmental Media Awards, USA during my research.  This is an event I should have known about already as well.  I plan on writing about them, too.  Stay tuned.
The  Environmental Media Association Awards page states the purpose for these awards: "The EMA Awards honor film and television productions and individuals that increase public awareness of environmental issues and inspire personal action on these issues."  That's exactly the kind of purpose I thought these awards would have and why I'm glad I finally stumbled across them.  These are the films and television shows I should be featuring here.

The Environmental Media Association Awards YouTube channel does not have separate clips of the movie and television winners being announced, but it does have a sizzle reel showing all the celebrity honorees and their presenters.

Relive the excitement of the 2017 EMA Awards, Hosted by Jaden Smith, with our sizzle reel. Toyota and Lexus presented the Awards.
Variety listed the honorees.
Jaden Smith, a member of the EMA board, will host the awards. The show will also honor Russell Simmons with EMA’s Mission in Music Award, Natalie Portman with the EMA Ongoing Commitment Award, John Paul DeJoria with the Innovator Award, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be given the org’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Now I know which celebrities have a green reputation.

It was cool to see the green stars, but I'm interested in the green shows.  Here are this year's nominees and winners from Variety and the Environmental Media Association.
Feature Film

“Moana” (Disney)
“Okja” (Netflix)
Winner: "Okja."

On the one hand, it's a pretty weak year for environmental themes in feature films that only two were nominated between August 2016 and July 2017.  On the other hand, I don't disagree with either the nominees or the winner one bit.  It doesn't hurt that both are speculative fiction. "Moana" is an animated musical fantasy with two Grammy nominations and was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Saturn Awards.  "Okja" is a action/adventure film with fantastic elements about the excesses of industrial agriculture.  I fully expect to see "Okja" nominated for some category at the Saturn Awards, whether in film, presentation on television, or streaming television.  If it's not nominated, I will consider it an oversight, as it could fall between the cracks of the categories.  I also expect nominations for "Okja" in special effects and movie for television at next year's Emmys.  My readers and I will have to wait until the middle of next year to see how all these predictions fare.  Maybe by that time, I'll have an entry devoted to it.

Next, the category that led me to these awards.
Documentary Film

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (Paramount Pictures)
“Before The Flood” (Fox & National Geographic)
“Chasing Coral” (Netflix)
“From The Ashes” (Fox & National Geographic)
Winner: "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."

Wow, that's a worthy list of nominees, all of which I can recommend to my students and all on related topics of climate change and the energy sources that cause it.  "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" is also a worthy winner.  Now I'm looking forward to how it fares at the Academy Awards.  Next month.

Follow over the jump for the television nominees and winners.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sander Levin to retire, likely leaving Fred Upton as dean of Michigan's Congressional delegation

Conyers isn't the only member of Michigan's Congressional delegation to announce his retirement.  Stay tuned for news about another U.S. Representative leaving under more ordinary circumstances.
That's how I finished Conyers resigns, setting up scramble for his seat.  It's time to me to pass along this video from Wochit News: U.S. Representative Levin To Step Down.

On Saturday, U.S. Representative Sander Levin of Michigan said he would not run for reelection next year. He is stepping down after more than three decades in Congress. The 86-year-old Democrat is a member of the House of Representatives’ powerful Ways and Means committee. The committee deals with tax and economic policies as well as spending on programs such as Social Security and unemployment. In a statement acknowledging his decision to step down, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi praised Levin. Pelosi said, “Since his days as a student activist, Congressman Levin has been a fearless and dedicated voice for justice and progress."
Levin does not plan to be idle in retirement.  The Detroit Free Press reported that he plans to "join the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, where he will continue to work on issues that have engrossed him in Congress, such as health care and trade issues."

The Free Press also noted the effect Levin's retirement will have on Michigan's Congressional delegation.
His departure from Congress at the end of 2018 is just the latest departure of veteran Michigan representatives, many of whom held powerful positions as the chairs of key committees, including U.S. Reps. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, Dave Camp, R-Midland, Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, Dale Kildee, D-Flint and Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. When they left Congress over the last six years, they had a combined length of service of 141 years and significant clout in the halls of the nation's Capitol.

In the last three election cycles, eight of Michigan’s 14 members of Congress have retired. If U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, resigns from office or decides not to run for reelection in 2018 because of a sexual harassment scandal, only U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, would remain from Michigan's stable of veterans with more than 10 years of experience in Congress.
It looks like Upton will remain in the U.S. House of Representatives, as he has decided not to run for U.S. Senate, a possibility I mentioned in Whew! Kid Rock is not running for U.S. Senate.  WOOD-TV reported on that announcement in Upton seeks re-election in House, no Senate run.

After speculation of a possible run for U.S. Senate, Rep. Fred Upton announced he will not be seeking the nomination.
First Kid Rock, now Fred Upton.  If I were Debbie Stabenow, I'd be breathing a lot easier.

Enough of the Senate contest.  The Free Press also speculated on who might replace Levin.
But now, it's time to turn the reins over to the next generation. Names that have popped up as possible successors to Levin include his son Andy Levin, a Bloomfield Township Democrat and president of Levin Energy, which deals with clean energy initiatives, and state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.
This is a contest I actually will have to vote in, as Levin is my Representative.  I have a long time before I have to decide, as the primary election isn't until August, but I'm not enthused about either possible candidate mentioned above.  Fortunately, Daily Kos lists two more.
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner also acknowledged he was considering, though he said he didn't have a timeline for when he'd decide. Businessman Kevin Howley, who lost a 2012 race for Oakland County executive 57-43, said he was looking at who else runs before deciding.
I like those two more than the previous two, as I know both of them.  Between the two, I'd vote for Meisner.  He has the nickname of "The Gentleman Assassin" -- he can kill while smiling and being polite.  I like that.  Just the same,  I'm hoping that Jim Townsend, who used to be my State Representative, declares his candidacy.  He's someone I could support enthusiastically.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Conyers resigns, setting up scramble for his seat


Original at Detroit Free Press.
I think John Conyers should retire.  He's had his term as the longest serving Representative.  Let someone else have the honor.  He doesn't deserve it anymore.
That was the opening paragraph of a comment I left in an open thread at We Hunted The Mammoth last month.  Well, I got my wish.  WXYZ reported yesterday Rep. John Conyers officially announces retirement, read resignation letter.

Rep. John Conyers, who has been battling sexual harassment allegations by former female staffers, says he is retiring. Conyers told "The Mildred Gaddis Show" on WPZR-FM Tuesday that this will be his final two-year term. The 88-year-old Democrat says he is endorsing his son to take his seat in Congress. Ian Conyers, the grandson of John Conyers' brother, earlier said his great-uncle would not run for re-election and that he would run for his seat in Washington, D.C. Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, easily won re-election last year in the heavily Democratic 13th District. The House Ethics Committee has been reviewing multiple harassment allegations against Conyers.
The man did a lot of good over the years, but it was time for him to go.  I that is not a new thought of mine, as I stated it in 2015.
Conyers almost didn't qualify for the ballot last year, as too many of his signatures were collected by paid petition circulators, which was illegal at the time (that provision of Michigan's election law was overturned in the process of getting Conyers back on the ballot).  That's a sign that Conyers has been losing control of his operation.  Along with other rumors about his age getting to him, it indicates that it might be time for Conyers to retire.
Now that Conyers has not just retired, but resigned, who will replace him and when will that happen?  WXYZ reported on that as well in Gov. Snyder reviewing dates for special election to replace John Conyers.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is reviewing possible dates for a special election in Michigan's 13th Congressional district to replace John Conyers. Rep. John Conyers officially announces retirement, read resignation letter The 88-year-old congressman announced Tuesday he is retiring amid sexual harassment allegations. Ari Adler, a spokesman for the governor's office, said they received his resignation letter and are reviewing potential dates for the special election. Conyers was scheduled to serve out his two-year term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2019, but because his retirement is effective immediately, there will now be a special election for his seat.
In addition to the two younger Conyers, Coleman Young II, who just lost to Mike Duggan for Detroit mayor, the Detroit News listed a long roster of potential candidates.
Democratic activist Michael Gilmore is running for Conyers’ seat. Other names circulating Tuesday as potential candidates included state Sens. David Knezek of Dearborn Heights and Coleman Young II of Detroit, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.
Counting both Conyers cousins, Young, and Gilmore, four candidates have already declared their intent to run for this now vacant seat in a safe Democratic district.  I fully expect more to throw their hats into the ring.  The one I would root for is Tlaib, who organized protests against Trump last year.  Those got my attention and respect.

I have one last item to note about this entire affair.  While it was past time for Conyers to retire and this scandal got him to do the right thing, I found the catalyst for it to be tainted, as I noted in the rest of my comment at We Hunted The Mammoth.
That written, the Wonkette article noted that a recurring subject of this blog, Mike Cernovich, was the one who broke the story and pointed out that it was reminiscent of how Roger Stone knew that Al Franken was going to be exposed before the news broke.  Josh Marshall noticed this and asked "Why Cernovich?"

This doesn't mean [Cernovich] and Stone are wrong -- even a stopped clock is right twice a day -- it just means that they're motives aren't pure and they are still not friends of women.  As Wonkette wrote, "beware of ratf*cking."
It also raises the question of "Why Conyers?"  Yes, the allegations were backed up by evidence and later accounts by other women and I think that Conyers needed to retire before the scandal, but why Conyers and not some other Representative who misbehaved?  I noted two years ago that "According to Voteview, he's the most liberal member of the Michigan Congressional delegation, as well as one of the oldest."  I suspect that may be part of the answer to Marshall's question, "Why Cernovich?"

Conyers isn't the only member of Michigan's Congressional delegation to announce his retirement.  Stay tuned for news about another U.S. Representative leaving under more ordinary circumstances.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trump declares the downsizing of two national monuments in Utah


Just this past January, I wrote National monuments, more of Obama's environmental legacy about Former President Obama creating Gold Butte National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument.  While I reported on the controversy surrounding the designation of Bears Ears, I concluded "the monument will be a good thing and that it will last."  I should not have been so sanguine.  I still think it's a good thing, but Bears Ears may mostly go away, surviving in two smaller parts under a different name.  CBS News reports Trump drastically downsizes nationally protected land in Utah.

President Trump announced that he cutting nearly two million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. National Geographic's environment editor, Brian Howard, joins CBSN to discuss the impact and the expected legal response.
As Howard said, this move is unprecedented and will face stiff legal resistance.  I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the Supreme Court, which means that it will take years for this move to take effect, if ever.  I expect to be posting updates on this terrible move for the environment, as well as another attempt to obliterate Obama's legacy, right up to the end of the decade.  It should be fun to watch.

By the way, I had no idea how many paleontological resources there were inside both national monuments until I stumbled across these two images from the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP).  They're out of date, as they were designed to prompt people to use them during the comment period, which expired a while ago, but they're still interesting.

First, Bears Ears, which SVP wrote should be expanded, not reduced.


Next, Escalante-Grand Staircase.


As a paleontologist who worked at Rancho La Brea and gave presentations about Pigmy Mammoths at Channel Island National Park, I'm impressed, as the topic of fossils in National Parks and Monuments is one that is near and dear to my heart.  I wish I had known earlier, but I doubt my input would have made a difference to this administration.  Sigh.  At least I have its space policy, which is cold comfort for all the ill Trump and Zinke have done for the environment.

Monday, December 4, 2017

'Chasing Coral': awards and nominations and looking forward to next year's Emmys 4


I concluded Science, science fiction, and fantasy among the 2017 Grammy nominees with an aside that served as a program note.
Speaking of the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" earned three nominations, as did "Chasing Coral," the sequel to "Chasing Ice," so I might just write about them in a future entry.  Stay tuned.
My students have been telling me about "Chasing Coral" all semester and I have been telling them they can watch it and write a report for extra credit, so I think it's time I write about it here.

As I wrote above, "Chasing Coral" earned three nominations at last month's Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, Best Documentary, Best Director, and Best Song in a Documentary for "Tell Me How Long."  It was in competition with "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" for Best Documentary and Best Song in a Documentary; neither won.  Another film about science, nature, and the environment, "Jane," an examination of Jane Goodall's early career, won Best Documentary, while "Jump" from the movie "Step" won Best Song in a Documentary.  Jeff Orlowski also did not win Best Director for "Chasing Coral", losing to Evgeny Afineevsky for "Cries from Syria" and Frederick Wiseman for "Ex Libris: New York Public Library."  I'll keep the winners in mind for future entries, as they might be nominated for an Oscar or an Emmy and they are on subjects that are on topic for this blog.*

While the critics like it enough to nominate the film, the audiences seem to love it.  Two of its wins are audience choice awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Boulder International Film Festival.  At the latter, it also won Best Feature Documentary and Call to Action Award.  That gives me added confidence in recommending it to my students.

Enough of the film's critical and popular reception.  It's time to watch its Official Trailer from Netflix.

Beneath the waves, coral reefs are dying on a massive scale. These scientists and filmmakers are fighting to stop it. Chasing Coral is now streaming on Netflix.
That certainly does the job a trailer should do, make one want to watch the movie, but it doesn't say enough about the findings and their significance.  PBS NewsHour has those in ‘Chasing Coral’ documents destruction of coral reefs.

In the new documentary “Chasing Coral,” a team of photographers, divers and scientists analyze more than 650 hours of underwater footage to illustrate the real-time effects warming seas. NewsHour Weekend’s Saskia De Melker talks to Jeff Orlowski, the director of the film, about the challenges of showing these rarely-seen effects of climate change.
I agree with Orlowski; that climate change has become politicized is "massively unfortunate for human civilization" (hi, fellow Crazy Eddie!) and it needs to be depoliticized to solve the problem.  Also, I was pleased to learn that "Chasing Ice" won Outstanding Nature Programming at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2014.  I've been telling my students about its Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song for years.  Now I can tell them it's an Emmy Award winner, too.  I expect I'll be able to tell my students about "Chasing Coral" earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nature Documentary next summer and its likely win in the fall.  I'm looking forward to that.

Speaking of Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song, here is Tell Me How Long Music Video Feat. Kristen Bell from Netflix.

Kristen Bell performs "Tell Me How Long" from the new film Chasing Coral, now streaming on Netflix.

Music & Lyrics by Dan Romer and Teddy Geiger
That's a very appealing song about an appalling subject.  Because of that, I hope it earns an nomination for an Oscar.  If it's eligible for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, I hope it's nominated for that, too.  After all, Common pulled that off for “The Letter to the Free” from "13th," which was also in a feature film.  And, yes, a work can be nominated for both the Primetime Emmys and the News and Documentary Emmys.  "Wild New Zealand" managed to pull that off, being nominated for both Outstanding Narrator at the Primetime Emmys and Outstanding Nature Documentary the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  I hope Netflix submits "Chasing Coral" to both awards programs.  It deserves the recognition.

*Much to my surprise, I've never mentioned Jane Goodall before at this blog, even though she's a scientist, and environmentalist, and a celebrity.  That's a combination that should have attracted my attention years ago.

Also, I discovered the Environmental Media Awards, USA during my research.  This is an event I should have known about already as well.  I plan on writing about them, too.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Science, science fiction, and fantasy among the 2017 Grammy nominees


I told my readers to "Stay tuned for a more standard Sunday entertainment feature focusing on the Grammy nominees relevant to science, science fiction, and fantasy" at the end of St. Clair wins 2017 WDIV Battle of the Bands plus my other favorites.  Here are the relevant nominated works from the Los Angeles Times with some assistance from File 770 for the science entries and re-ordered to suit my priorities.
Score soundtrack for visual media

"Arrival" - Jóhann Jóhannsson, composer
"Dunkirk" - Hans Zimmer, composer
"Game of Thrones: Season 7" - Ramin Djawadi, composer
"Hidden Figures" - Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer, composers
"La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz, composer
This field is a sweep for genre entertainment from top to bottom.  Every nominee is a past or likely future Saturn Award candidate.  "Arrival" was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film and won Best Film Screenplay.  "Dunkirk" is likely to be nominated for Best Action Film early next year.  "Game of Thrones" is a perennial nominee for Best Fantasy TV Show.  "Hidden Figures" won Best Action/Adventure Film.  Finally, "La La Land" won both Best Independent Film and Best Film Music.  It also won Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) at the Academy Awards.  I would say "La La Land" is the favorite, but the Emmy electorate is not the Oscar electorate and can vote differently.  For example, John Williams lost at the Oscars but won the Grammy for "The Force Awakens."  I'm not convinced that will happen next year.

The next category is also a genre sweep from start to finish.
Compilation soundtrack for visual media

"Baby Driver" (Various Artists)
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2" (Various Artists)
"Hidden Figures: The Album" (Various Artists)
"La La Land" (Various Artists)
"Moana: The Songs" (Various Artists)
In addition to "Hidden Figures" and "La La Land," which I mentioned above, all these films are past or present Saturn Award nominees.  "Baby Driver" is likely to join "Dunkirk" as in the Action category.  "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is a lock to be nominated for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release and the movie I expect most likely to win, even if it isn't my favorite in the category.  "Moana" was nominated for Best Animated Film Release.

As for which will win, it depends on what the voters want.  If they want all original songs, they pick either "La La Land" or "Moana" with the advantage to "La La Land."  If they want a combination of old and original, they can vote for "Hidden Figures," the songs in which I really enjoyed and would vote for if I were eligible.  If they want all recycled, they can choose between "Baby Driver" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."  Both of the latter had really interesting mixes of classics, but I preferred "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Genre films aren't as well represented in the next category, but are stronger than one might think at first glance.
Song written for visual media

"City of Stars" — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
"How Far I'll Go" — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli'i Cravalho)
"I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)" — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
"Never Give Up" — Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
"Stand Up for Something" — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day featuring Common)
"City of Stars" won for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) at the Academy Awards and makes for the third nominee from "La La Land."  Congratulations to Hurwitz for getting nominations in all three visual media categories.  It beat "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana" in that category at the Oscars, so I would say "City of Stars" is favored.  The last song from last year was "Never Give Up" by Sia from "Lion."  That film makes this a surprisingly strong showing for genre, as it was nominated for Best Independent Film at the Saturn Awards, even though it is a biography and thus not really fiction.


As for the nominees from this year's films, I expected "Fifty Shades Darker" to be recognized.
Just like the first installment in the trilogy, it looks like the songs will be the best part of the movie.  Here's to seeing them nominated for Grammys and Oscars along with the movie itself nominated for a Razzie!
One prediction down, two to go.

The song that I think is most likely to give "City of Stars" a run for its money is "Stand Up for Something" by Common & Diane Warren from "Marshall."  Common won both an Oscar and a Grammy for "Glory" from "Selma" and he just won an Emmy for “The Letter to the Free” from "13th."  Even if he doesn't win the Grammy, this is a good sign he'll be nominated for an Oscar in January.  Now he just needs to write a stage musical so he can be eligible for a Tony to earn the EGOT.

That's it for music from movies and television.  Follow over the jump for two categories that include recordings about science plus a category for movies and television about music.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

St. Clair wins 2017 WDIV Battle of the Bands plus my other favorites


In the footnote to Michigan marching bands parade in the holiday season over the years, I told my readers "I'll follow up on WDIV's Battle of the Bands in a future post.  Stay tuned."  I thank my readers for their patience; today I report the winner as well as my other favorites.

Unfortunately, Southgate Anderson, which I was rooting for in Rockford marching band in New York for Macy's Parade plus Battle of the Bands for Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade, did not win.  However, I'm not upset about it.  Looking at the clip of their performance in WDIV's Battle of the Bands shows that they didn't take their appearance all that seriously, so I wouldn't have voted for them if I hadn't declared my preference beforehand.  Instead, the St. Clair Marching Saints won.  The WDIV video has the announcers talking over the band, so I'm posting St. Clair Marching Saints - Thanksgiving Parade 2017 by Julie Martel on YouTube instead.


That's a much better performance than Southgate Anderson's or all but two other marching bands in the parade in my opinion as a former marching band judge.  Of those two, it was slightly but definitely better than one and nearly tied with the other.  Besides, St. Clair won the Battle of the Bands the previous time it marched in the parade.  Had I known that, I would have been likely to call it the co-favorite along with Dakota High School from Macomb, Michigan, which I'll show over the jump.

While I complained about WDIV's announcers talking over the band, one of them did say something interesting, that the band did a tribute to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."  Here is a performance of that program, which took place three years ago.

Marching Band Festival at Port Huron High School. October 7, 2014
I'm enough of a Monty Python fan to have mentioned the comedy troupe in the the body of five entries (six including today) and quoted them in the comments to another.  All but one of them have referred to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," so of course I embedded this show.

Follow over the jump for the rest of my top three in America's Thanksgiving Parade.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Michigan marching bands parade in the holiday season over the years


Happy Holidays!  I'm going to celebrate the beginning of December 2017 with marching music, beginning with two videos following up on Rockford marching band in New York for Macy's Parade.*  The first is from WOOD-TV: Rockford High School marching band plays at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Rockford High School's marching band was among about a dozen bands who took part in the Thanksgiving tradition on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (NBC)
As is usual for the televised portion of the parade, that was quite a production.

MLive also captured part of the band's performance in Rockford band performs in the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

More than 300 Rockford High students march in the iconic New York City parade on Nov. 23, 2017. (Courtesy of Barry Klukas)
Congratulations, Rockford H.S.!  You put on a fun and outstanding performance.

Follow over the jump as I recycle two other performances by Michigan high school marching bands at the Macy's Parade from previous years.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Voters Not Politicians explains gerrymandering in Michigan


I've written a lot about gerrymandering on this blog, including some posts that became among the most read of the year.  These posts don't just explain the problem, they offer solutions, such as the one John Oliver mentioned in his segment on gerrymandering, an independent redistricting commission.  That was attempted here in Michigan two years ago, but the proposal went nowhere.  Now, a group calling themselves Voters Not Politicians is trying.  Watch them introduce themselves in Who is Voters Not Politicians?

It's time for fair and transparent elections in Michigan where our votes matter and our voices are heard. Politicians are manipulating our voting maps for their political gain. Join Voters Not Politicians to reform the redistricting process and return the power back to the people!
They explain themselver further in What is Gerrymandering? Borders in Michigan.

Michigan is defined by borders that make our state unique and define who we are. But some of our most important borders have been drawn up by politicians to serve their own political agenda. It's called gerrymandering, and it divides our communities and silences our voices as voters. But here in Michigan, we can fix this and YOU can help. Make your vote count and your voice heard by heading over to http://votersnotpoliticians.com.
The group has gained national attention are currently gathering signatures.  They've been surprisingly successful, considering they're using only volunteers to collect them, and already have 350,000, well over the 315,000 needed.  Their goal is 400,000.  They're almost there.

I have another video from Voters Not Politicians explaining the proposal they plan on putting on next year's ballot.  Stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, I have a holiday video post planned for midnight to start the new month.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Two Utah landscape videos from Smithsonian Channel and MatadorU


I left three comments at Booman Tribune that together form a series on Utah landscapes.  The first was on SPP Vol.639 & Old Time Froggy Bottom Cafe and it's from Smithsonian Channel.

"I have a video for that landscape."

Despite its dry desert landscapes, Utah is a land of endless surprises, and Glen Canyon is one of them, rivaling Arizona's Grand Canyon for sheer majesty.
The second is from Matador University, included in this comment on SPP Vol.640 & Old Time Froggy Botttom Cafe.

"Another video showing Utah's Iconic Landscapes From the Air."

MatadorU alumni and filmmaker Max Seigal shows you a view of Utah that not many have seen before. Take a look at this iconic landscape like never before, in Utah from the Air.
I hope my readers enjoyed the scenery as much as I did.

I included a third video in my comment on SPP Vol.641 & Old Time Froggy Botttom Cafe but it's now unavailable.  I have two reactions, phooey and that didn't take long.

Stay tuned for the final entry of the month tomorrow at 7 P.M. E.S.T.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For Giving Tuesday 2017, I recommend some of my favorite nonprofits


Happy #GivingTuesday 2017!


National Day Calendar has more on National Day of Giving/Giving Tuesday.
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Quite simply, take advantage of all the holiday deals to add to your charitable giving. Combined with your family, friends, local and national organizations and through the power of social media, National Day of Giving can become a tradition worth passing on. Use #GivingTuesday to post on social media.

HISTORY

In 2012, 92nd Street Y in New York City created National Day of Giving to bring focus to the charitable season in the wake of the commercialized Black Friday and Cyber Monday. More commonly referred to as #GivingTuesday, National Day of Giving harnesses the power of social media to give back around the world and throughout the year.
Follow over the jump for the nonprofits I've given to and others I recommend.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cyber Monday to set record but Black Friday still king in 2017


After Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day and Small Business Saturday 2017 comes Cyber Monday.  After a dozen years, the online shopping day is going stronger than ever, as CBS Evening News reports Record breaking sales expected for Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday is expected to be a record breaker this year. Analysts forecast $6.6 billion in online retail sales Monday. Meg Oliver reports.
Lori Torgerson is right that there is room for a lot of winners, both online and in stores, even though brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls are having issues.  CBS This Morning makes that point as well in addition to the reasons for it in Why Black Friday isn't as big as it used to be.

More than 164 million people plan to shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. The long weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season when shoppers will each spend an average of nearly $1,000. CBS News financial contributor Mellody Hobson joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the move to online shopping and the strategies brick-and-mortar stores are using to lure shoppers.
In addition to all the other reasons listed in the CBS This Morning report, CBS Los Angeles (KCAL 9) gives another reason why 85-90% of all sales take place in stores in Black Friday Or Cyber Monday? How To Decide.

Many shoppers told KCAL9's Brittney Hopper that they prefer Black Friday to Cyber Monday because they like being able to handle the merchandise before buying.
For many people, there's nothing like the actual physical experience.

For those of us shopping online, WXYZ has Cyber Monday safety tips.


Stay safe online and happy shopping!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Snow Bear turns over her first 1,000 miles, a driving update for November 2017


I made a note about the odometer in Good-bye Dez. Hello Snow Bear! A driving update.
Snow Bear...had 264 miles when we bought her.  That means we will have driven her 736 when she rolls over her first 1,000 miles.  That's when I expect to post the next overall update on our driving.
That happened last Wednesday, November 22.  We bought the car on October 28, so it took 26 days for my wife to drive the car 736 miles.  That translates to an average of 26.31 miles per day and 863.38 miles per standard month.  That's a lot more than the 6.30 miles per day and 192.2 miles per month we drove her predecessor Dez between June and October.  That happened because my wife drove to Chicago and back two weeks ago to visit our daughter.  Family, like sustainability, is a priority.

It's also a lot more than she drove Dez during the comparable period last year.  See what I wrote in November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news.
I also have to recalculate how many miles my wife drove last year.  September 19 to November 10 is 53 days, so she drove Dez 18.87 miles per day and 575.47 miles per month.  I'll have to apply those numbers to when Snow Bear, Dez's replacement, turns over 1,000 miles late this month.  I'll also have to leave a comment on the original entry to correct the record.
New cars are a lot more fun to drive as well as safer.

For the combined mileage, when I add the exactly 20 miles per day and 610 miles per month from November 2017 driving update for Pearl plus Tesla Truck and Chevy Bolt news, my wife and I drove our cars an estimated 46.31 miles per day and 1473.38 miles per month.  That's a lot more than during any of the comparable periods I listed when we traded Dez in.  Trips from Detroit to Chicago will do that.  I expect we'll be driving a lot less at the next update for both cars.  The earliest Pearl should pass 39,000 miles is mid January based on when she did it at the start of this year.  As for Snow Bear, that could be February or March based on my wife's normal driving patterns as possibly altered by having a new car.

In any event, my wife and I are once again contributing to the continuing slow increase in total miles driven, as shown in this graph from Doug Short.

"Travel on all roads and streets changed by 0.3% (0.8 billion vehicle miles) for September 2017 as compared with September 2016. Travel for the month is estimated to be 262.5 billion vehicle miles." The less volatile 12-month moving average was up 0.12% month-over-month and 1.2% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is up just 0.04% month-over-month and up only 0.6% year-over-year.
...
The latest data point is another all-time high.
I expect this trend to continue until the next recession, which I'm still predicting will begin next year.  I'll re-evaluate my forecast next month.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Eat local with Michigan's best local pizza on Small Business Saturday 2017


Happy Small Business Saturday!  I'm observing today in two parts.

First, I'm following up on 'Shop Small' on Small Business Saturday 2016, when I wished that "I hope Trump finds someone at least half as competent to take her position.  As competent?  Sorry, I'm too realistic."  Trump managed to meet my expectations by appointing Linda McMahon, former President and CEO of the WWE and two-time Republican nominee for U.S. Senate as Director of the Small Business Adminstration.  Here she is, delivering the Small Business Saturday PSA 2017.


Second, I'm examining a very thin slice of the "Eat local" part of today by looking at Michigan's best local pizza.  I begin with MLive's Top 5 Pizzas in Michigan.

The Michigan's Best team presents the top 5 pizzerias in the state.
MLive listed more top pizza places in Michigan's Best pizza: our 12 top choices revealed and Each Michigan's Best pizza nominee is special and here's why.  Follow over the jump for WXYZ reporting on three of them in Metro Detroit.

Friday, November 24, 2017

A snail story for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day


Happy Buy Nothing Day, my name for Black Friday!  I won't be participating in either day, as I will be buying food but won't be Christmas shopping.  Instead, I'm going to tell a story about the small part I played in making possible the building of a shopping mall.  I've told this tale to my students several times over the years as an example of how I take revenge on people who cross me.*  Follow over the jump to read it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Tipsy Bartender Drinks for Thanksgiving 2017


Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm starting this year's version of Tipsy Bartender drinks for Thanksgiving 2016 by being a good environmentalist and recycling one of my comments on Midweek Cafe and Lounge, Vol. 42.
The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest bar nights of the year along with New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day.  To celebrate, I'm offering Thanksgiving Punch from Tipsy Bartender.
THANKSGIVING PUNCH
10 oz. (300ml) Apple Vodka
10 oz. (300ml) Pear Vodka 
10 oz. (300ml) Cinnamon Whiskey
34 oz. (1020ml) Angry Orchard Cider
13 oz. (390ml) Apple Cider
13 oz. (390ml) Apple Juice
Apple Slices
Pear Slices
Cinnamon Sticks

PREPARATION
1. Add fruits to base of punch bowl before pouring over alcohols and mixers.
2. Drop in apple slices, pear slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cranberries and stir gently.
3. Enjoy responsibly!
I concluded my comment by noting that "I have lots more Thanksgiving drinks where those came from, especially if one likes apple and pumpkin pies."  That works just as well as a transition here.  Follow over the jump for more of this year's Thanksgiving drinks from Tipsy Bartender.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rockford marching band in New York for Macy's Parade plus Battle of the Bands for Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade


An early Happy Thanksgiving to my readers!  I begin this year's celebration with the footnote to Vote for Troy Athens in the WDIV Battle of the Bands.
I'll be more excited about the bands in the Macy's Parade next year, when Rockford H.S. marches.  That band earned won the highest class in the MCBA championship, beating Plymouth-Canton, who marched in the Rose Parade this year.  Here's to hoping I remember to write about them next Thanksgiving!
The story begin in April 2016, when MLive reported Rockford High School marching band selected for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Rockford High School marching band learns that they have been selected for Macy's 2017 Thanksgiving Day Parade.
That was an excited bunch of students!

A year and one-half later, the band has finished their fundraising and was ready to depart, as WOOD-TV showed last week in Rockford marching band ready to march in Thanksgiving parade.


Fox 17 reported on the band's departure two days later, listing all the other events the band will attend.
A lot of logistical planning went into the trip. The students will be seeing two Broadway shows, taking a trip to Ground Zero, and giving a performance in Central Park. The band members credit all of the planning to their parents and faculty.

“Lots of lists and lots of prayers, too and lots of help. Lots of moms go into helping with the uniforms. There’s so much planning that it’s amazing," mother Robin O'Dett tells FOX 17.

Seven charter buses are taking 305 students and two additional buses are taking friends and family. The group is traveling with about 265 instruments. An additional 26-foot truck was needed for the students' suitcases.
That looks like a busy schedule, one that WOOD-TV followed up on yesterday in Rockford HS band to play in Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Good luck to the Rockford Rams marching band and may you do as well as Plymouth-Canton and Walled Lake Central did in their Macy's Parade appearances.  After all, as WOOD-TV mentioned, you won the state marching band championship, beating both of them.

Follow over the jump for Rockford's performance at Ford Field, where it was the highest-scoring unit in competition, as well as that of the lowest-scoring unit, Southgate Anderson, which is performing in America's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit tomorrow, and is thus participating in WDIV's Battle of the Bands.