Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Paczki Day 2017 across Michigan

Happy Paczki Day!  To celebrate the day, I'm sharing news videos from across the state, beginning with this light-hearted yet informative piece from MLive: You love paczki, but can you say paczki?.

MLive took to the streets of downtown Grand Rapids to see how many people could pronounce paczki with hilarious results. Music by Kevin MacLeod.
Continuing on in Grand Rapids, WOOD-TV chimes in with Bakeries making thousands of paczkis for Fat Tuesday.

Bakeries across West Michigan are prepared for a busy day of making paczki for Fat Tuesday.
After reading those stats, I'm reminded of why today is Fat Tuesday.

Fox 47 in Lansing sneaks in an explanation for why the Poles make paczkis on Fat Tuesday at the end of Paczki preparations for Fat Tuesday.

Today is Fat Tuesday so bakeries all over the state are making paczki for the last day before lent. For those who don't know, a paczki is basically a jelly doughnut. Jeff Schook, the COO of Quality Dairy says this is the biggest day of the year. They start making the paczki on February 17th. The most popular flavors are raspberry, cream cheese, and custard.
Today's culinary journey across Michigan ends in Detroit, where WXYZ reports Dozens wait for Fat Tuesday paczki at New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck.

Whatever else I think of WXYZ's reporting, they do great "man (or woman) on the street" interviews and this spot is no exception.  Some "short end of the stick!"

That's it for February.  I'll see my readers again at midnight for a new month, which marks six years of this blog!

Monday, February 27, 2017

'Hillary's America' outstinks 'Batman v Superman' for Worst Picture of 2016

I promised I'd get to the Razzie winners this week at the end of 'Suicide Squad' vs. 'Deadpool' at the Razzies and Oscars.  It's time to keep that promise.  Take it away, Razzies!

Razzie Members from all over the world have cast their votes and the "winners" have been announced for the best of the worst.
The results make me happy.
I expect "Batman v. Superman" will win, but I am rooting for "Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party" instead.  That movie is my pick for worst political movie of the year.
That prediction and hope was for Worst Screenplay, which "Batman v Superman" actually won, making that sentence a successful prediction, but I am very happy that Dinesh D'Souza's attempt at a documentary beat out the one of the worst big-budget superhero flicks of the past year for Worst Picture, as well as D'Souza proving worse as himself than both Ben Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman and worse than Zak Snyder as a director.  Finally, the movie's lead actress Becky Turner won Worst Actress for a total of four Razzies, tying "Batman v Superman."

Speaking of the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel, they were judged to be the worst combo in major Hollywood films last year.  It's the fault of the writing, but yes, the two deserved it.  They had really lousy chemistry on screen except when Wonder Woman was present, so she gets the credit.

As for the two remaining awards, allow me to brag.  First, my comments on Jesse Eisenberg being nominated for Worst Supporting Actor as Lex Luthor.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was worse than Leto as Joker...My wife and I agreed he wasn't Lex Luthor, who should be colder and more openly calculating, but a more organized version of The Joker who had a goal beyond "watching the world burn."
While I expressed doubts that Eisenberg was worse than the supporting actors in "Zoolander 2," he did deserve the nomination and didn't say he wouldn't win.  I guess the "Zoolander 2" vote was split and Eisenberg's Luthor was that bad.

Next, my observation in 'Superman vs. Batman' buries 'Zootopia' in rubble that I repeated in Razzie nominations confirm my guesses as to worst speculative fiction movies of 2017.
"Dawn of Justice" may end up with the same kind of dubious distinction "Fifty Shades of Grey" earned--nominated for both an Oscar (Special Effects) and at least one Razzie (Worst Reboot/Ripoff/Sequel).
And it won Worst Reboot/Ripoff/Sequel.  I called it a year ago.

Finally, why were these movies considered terrible?  "Batman v Superman" was judged bad because didn't meet expectations, but the audience probably didn't have much in the way of expectations for D'Souza's hack job on Clinton, other than it being a hack job.  While it met those, which was enough to make it the biggest grossing documentary of the past year, it failed to meet every other standard for artistry and veracity.  At least D'Souza showed up to "own his bad," proving he has some sense of humor, but he doesn't seem realize it's not the Hollywood insiders who were voting, it's the fans.  Dude, Hollywood doesn't hate your movie, America hates your movie.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Academy Awards recognize quality and diversity at the movies in 2016

Yesterday I told my readers to "stay tuned for my thoughts on the Oscar nominees" today.  I originally was planning on writing about what a good year 2016 was for good year for speculative fiction as reflected in the fifteen feature-length speculative fiction movies nominated at the Academy Awards, but I'm not feeling it today.  I'll save that discussion for my reflections on the People's Choice Awards winners and the Saturn Award nominees in the light of the Oscar winners and losers.  I think I'll have more insightful comments on the films after tonight's awards.

Instead, I'm going to contrast this year's acting nominees with last year's.  The 2016 nominees for acting prompted me to post Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day, while the run-up to this year's Oscars showed much more encouraging trends for recognition and inclusion that I noted in 'Hidden Figures' tops the box office for MLK Day plus diversity among Golden Globes winners and 'Hidden Figures' and 'Fences' had big nights at the SAG Awards.  ABC News reports on the differences between last year's nominees and this year's in Diversity is the winner at the 2017 Oscars.

The nominees at this year's awards show are more culturally and racially diverse than the previous year.
This year's nominees may not be perfect for recognizing both achievement and diversity, but it certainly is a big step in the right direction, and I'm all in favor of this kind of progress.*

As for which of the nominees mentioned above will win, I am outsourcing that to FiveThirtyEight.  The site's algorithm predicts Viola Davis will win for supporting actress, Mahershala Ali for supporting actor, and "O.J.: Made in America" for feature length documentary.  That last one is hardly a positive example of inclusion and diversity, but it is an example nonetheless.  It's also an example of a movie about Hollywood that Hollywood will vote for, which is why "La La Land" is a prohibitive favorite to win best picture.  At least "La La Land" won't be as bad a choice as "Birdman," which won two years ago for the same reason.  I couldn't finish watching it, while I loved "Boyhood."  I expect I'll enjoy "La La Land" almost as much as I did "Arrival" and will enjoy "Hidden Figures."

My long shot pick out of the nominees named in the video is Denzel Washington, who won the SAG Award, to upset Casey Affleck from "Manchester by the Sea."  Other than that, I expect a sweep of the rest of the top categories in which it's nominated for "La La Land."

I'll have more about the Oscar and Razzie winners beginning tomorrow, along with the best political and historical movies and TV shows of 2016 based on awards show nominations and wins later this week.  Stay tuned.

*I'd have preferred Amy Adams for her performance in either "Arrival" or "Nocturnal Animals" be among the nominees, but I can't have everything.  Some things are more important; note that I blogged about diversity today, not speculative fiction.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

'Suicide Squad' vs. 'Deadpool' at the Razzies and Oscars

I already bragged about the Razzie nominations confirming my guesses as to worst speculative fiction movies of 2016, which were "Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice," "Gods of Egypt," and  "Independence Day: Resurgence," all of which were nominated for Worst Picture.  However, I also wrote that I wasn't done with the Razzies.
As for the rest of the nominations, Entertainment Weekly has those.  I may get back to them.  In the meantime, the Oscar nominees will be out shortly.  I'll be checking to see if "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" gets an Oscar nomination to go along with its eight Razzie nominations as I also predicted.  Stay tuned.
It turned out that I was wrong, about that prediction; the movie did not get any Oscar nominations.  However, the other big Warner Brothers/DC Comics movie of the year did, as I mentioned yesterday.
Stay tuned for an entry about the Razzies, in which I plan to include a discussion about "Suicide Squad," which is nominated for both an Oscar and two Razzies, as well as earning Margot Robbie awards for best actress in an action film from both the Critics' Choice Awards and People's Choice Awards for her performance as Harley Quinn.  At least the critics and fans agree on something!
I don't which I'd rather say, I was so close, or right idea, wrong movie, so I'll say both.  I'll also say that I agree with Wochit Entertainment's report that many fans think "Deadpool," which is my pick for best Superhero movie of 2016, was robbed.

Fans of Deadpool are not happy with the Oscar snub. The nominations for ther 89th annual Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday. Despite being nominated for Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes and Best Theatrical Motion Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, 'Deadpool' failed to garner even one Oscar nomination. Deadpool was a huge success, commercially and critically. Fans are livid that the movie did not get even one nomination. They are even angrier that Suicide Squad, the DC comic book actioner that flopped with critics and fans, was nominated for best make up and hairstyling.
While the Writers Guild Awards nominated "Deadpool" for Best Adapted Screenplay, I guess not enough of the WGA members are Motion Picture Academy voters to put the film's script over the top.  The other problem would be that "Moonlight" was considered an original screenplay for the Writers Guild Awards, while it's considered an Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.  That alone would keep "Deadpool" out of the category.  As for the Sound Editing and Visual Effects categories, the movie I'd kick out to make room for "Deadpool" would be "Deepwater Horizon," which is ironic because it's a film I recommend to my students.  Oh, well.  At least "Deadpool" has no Razzie nominations and two Critics' Choice Awards, three if one counts the Entertainer of the Year for Ryan Reynolds.  I'm sure it will get its revenge by winning the Saturn Award for Best Comic to Motion Picture Release, where it will handily beat "Suicide Squad," which is also nominated.

As for "Suicide Squad," I'm sure it deserved its nomination for Makeup and Hairstyling, although I think "Star Trek Beyond" was better at it.  It also deserved its nominations for Worst Actor for Jared Leto, who is probably the worst movie Joker ever, although Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger set very high bars for the role, and Worst Screenplay.  The movie was fun, but it was disorganized and one couldn't think about it or it would fall apart.  Fortunately for both Leto and the screenwriters, "Suicide Squad" is unlikely to win either.  Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was worse than Leto as Joker.  I explain why in the comments to the earlier Razzie entry.
My experience with the Razzies is that the actors are usually the victims of bad writing. That's certainly the case for Ben Affleck, who played a Batman written to be a lot dumber and easier to manipulate than he should be. It didn't help that he was up against a Lex Luthor written to be much loonier than he should be as well. My wife and I agreed he wasn't Lex Luthor, who should be colder and more openly calculating, but a more organized version of The Joker who had a goal beyond "watching the world burn."
That written, I'm not even sure Eisenberg delivered the worst performance among the nominees; that might go to one of the nominees from "Zoolander 2," because nothing is more unfunny than a bad comedy.  Also "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" had even worse plot holes and other writing issues than "Suicide Squad."  I expect "Batman v. Superman" will win, but I am rooting for "Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party" instead.  That movie is my pick for worst political movie of the year.

For the rest of the Razzie nominees, read the list at Entertainment Weekly.  I'll get to the winners next week.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on the Oscar nominees tomorrow.

Friday, February 24, 2017

'Westworld,' 'Stranger Things,' and 'Penny Dreadful' all win Golden Reel Awards, beating 'Game of Thrones'

I noted that the big three speculative fiction television shows,  "Game of Thrones," "Stranger Things," and "Westworld," all lost at the WGA Awards.  However, two of them, "Stranger Things" and "Westworld," along with "Penny Dreadful," one of my other favorites, had a better evening at the Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing.  Time to share before writing about the Razzies tomorrow and the Oscars on Sunday.

"Westworld" was the big winner of the night in the television categories with two awards, TV Long Form - FX / Foley for "The Bicameral Mind" and TV Short Form - FX / Foley for "Trompe L'Oeil."  It beat out "Preacher," the other speculative fiction nominee in the category, "Sherlock," and "War and Peace" for the first award and a raft of shows, including speculative fiction and speculative fiction adjacent series like "American Horror Story: Roanoke," "Black Sails," "Game of Thrones," and "Stranger Things," for the second.  It lost out to "The Night Of" for TV Long Form - Dialogue / ADR along with "Harley and the Davidsons," "Roots," and "Sherlock."  It also lost out on a fourth nomination for TV Short Form - Dialogue / ADR, but I'm going to focus on the winner of that category instead over the jump.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Discovery of seven Earth-like planets announced by NASA

I promised to write about the speculative fiction winners at the Golden Reel Awards for today, but something more important came up.  NASA/JPL announced yesterday NASA & TRAPPIST-1: A Treasure Trove of Planets Found.

Seven Earth-sized planets have been observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope around a tiny, nearby, ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. Three of these planets are firmly in the habitable zone.

Over 21 days, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone, where liquid water might be found.

The video features interviews with Sean Carey, manager of the Spitzer Science Center, Caltech/IPAC; Nikole Lewis, James Webb Space Telescope project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute; and Michaël Gillon, principal investigator, TRAPPIST, University of Liege, Belgium.

The system has been revealed through observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) telescope, as well as other ground-based observatories. The system was named for the TRAPPIST telescope.
NASA/JPL followed up with TRAPPIST-1: Weirdest habitable worlds.

A new discovery by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed seven Earth-sized planets around the M dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1. Three of them lie in what is known as the habitable zone -- where there is the potential for liquid water. It is the largest batch of Earth-sized worlds ever discovered in the habitable zone of a single star. While we don’t know if there is life on the TRAPPIST-1 planets, we do know that any life discovered there would likely be very different from life on Earth. It would have to survive the stormy solar flares of an M dwarf, adapt to a planet that might have extreme temperature swings, and thrive in red and infrared light. All seven worlds are early ambassadors of a new generation of planet-hunting targets that promise a new vision of the word “habitable.”
As much as I like comparing possibly habitable exoplanets to those in Niven's Known Space, such as Plateau or Wunderland, I won't be able to do that for this discovery.  The closest analogue is Gummidgy, which orbits CY Aquarii, a much larger star, which in the real world is much farther away, but in the Known Space universe is apparently much closer.  Either way, none of these worlds is Gummidgy.

That written, these planets are already in science fiction, as CNet reports.
While it's a little unusual for a top scientific journal to publish a work of science fiction, Nature is no stranger to the practice. The journal has regularly published a science fiction column since 2007, and the Trappist-1 planets really beg for the sci-fi treatment. The seven planets tightly circling a dim, ultracool dwarf star are much closer to each other than the planets in our solar system, and at least three of them might be just as habitable as Earth.

"The Trappist-1 system, with its short interplanetary distances, makes space opera possible," writes Suhner, who read the research paper before penning her story. "Traveling from Nuwa to Pangu takes a week. A lilliputian system where worlds are like neighboring countries."

Suhner said collaborating with scientists is essential to her work.

"Integrating advanced research into my texts allows me to talk about science while keeping the sense of wonder and awe intact," she wrote in a Nature blog post about the short story. "This is one of the main advantages of science fiction."
That didn't take long at all.

As for the Oscars and other award shows, stay tuned.  I'll get back to them tomorrow.  I do have my priorities.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

'Arrival' wins for Adapted Screenplay at WGA Awards

The winners were announced at the Writers Guild Awards and they included "Arrival."  Wochit Entertainment has the highlights in Writers Guild of America Award Winners Announced.

The writers for the films "Moonlight" and "Arrival" won the top awards at the Writers Guild of America awards on Sunday. Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney won the WGA award for original screenplay award for their film "Moonlight." "Moonlight" is a drama about a young black Miami man's life and struggle to forge an identity. Eric Heisserer won best adapted screenplay for the sci-fi thriller 'Arrival', which is based on a short story by Ted Chaing.
I was rooting for "Arrival," which my wife and I watched on Saturday and really enjoyed as a serious movie about psychology and language, and my hope for the screenplay was rewarded.  Considering the stiff competition, I am pleasantly surprised.  Now on to the Oscars!

Follow over the jump for the rest of the speculative fiction winners.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Falcon 9 first stage landing video

Because of the election and its aftermath, I haven't written much about space and especially SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket since Yuri's Night 2016.  To clear the palate before diving headfirst into entertainment awards for the rest of the week, I'm returning briefly to space with Space.com's video of SpaceX 1st Stage Landing Captured By Drone.  Enjoy!

The Falcon 9 first stage landed on SpaceX’s landing zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida after launching the CRS-10 cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. A drone captured it from a safe distance.
I feel better offering some hope instead of doom.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Resistance for (Not My) Presidents Day

On Presidents Day two years ago, I decided to take a day off from DOOM!
I suppose I could post something about what our current president is doing to either cause, postpone, or prevent collapse, but I'm still not in an "all DOOM all the time" mood.
Instead, I posted a holiday greeting.  Last year, I focused on my favorite candidates for President in each party, who were visiting Michigan.  This year, I've decided to write about what our current President is doing to hasten collapse, but I'll let members of The Resistance explain for me.  Given a choice between covering Trump and The Resistance, I choose The Resistance.

Here is Al Jazeera English's US: Thousands march against Trump ahead of President's Day, which is their summary of last week's A Day without Immigrants.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the US protesting President Donald Trump and his policies.

Polls show Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in history at this stage in his term of office.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Los Angeles.
The Inquisitr also covered these rallies and includes notifications of Not My President's Day rallies in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago today.  May they be peaceful and well attended.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Speculative fiction nominees at the Writers Guild Awards include 'Arrival' and 'Deadpool'

I asked my readers if I should blog about speculative fiction nominees for the Writers Guild of America Awards last December, when I posted about the Grammy nominations in music for visual media.  At the time, my readers said no, voting that I should post Reactions to 'Rogue One' from critics and stars instead.  As I noted yesterday, the awards are being presented today, so I'm finally getting around to recognizing the nominees before their nominations turn into either awards or pumpkins.

Although movies are usually considered to be the more prestigeous art form and as such are listed first by associations that recognize achievement in both film and television, there are only three awards being given out for movies, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, and Documentary Screenplay.  Both of the speculative fiction nominees are being recognized for Adapted Screenplay, "Arrival" and "Deadpool."  I've seen both of these movies and both deserve their nominations, although "Deadpool" is a bit of a surprise.*  I'm rooting for "Arrival," which my wife and I watched last night and really enjoyed as a serious movie about psychology and language.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if it loses to any of the rest of the field, particularly "Fences" and "Hidden Figures."  I would be O.K. if "Hidden Figures" won instead, as it's also about space.

Follow over the jump for the speculative fiction nominees in television, new media, and video games.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Driving update for February 2017: Pearl

It was only 42 days ago that I posted Driving update for January 2017: Pearl, but it's time for another driving update as Pearl the Prius rolled over another 1,000 miles to reach 32,000 miles at the end of the day on Thursday.  It took 41 days for that to happen between January 6th and February 16th, which translates to an average of 24.39 miles per day and 743.9 miles per month, returning me to the 24.39 miles/day and 743.90 miles/standard month I drove during October and early November of last year.  That's a lot more than the 16.95 miles per day or 516.95 miles per standard month I drove from November to early January.

Back then, I used the excuse of volunteering for the election, canvassing for candidates and dropping off lawn signs, along with my normal driving to meetings and classes.  I'm not doing election work now, other than going to the county Democratic convention, so it must be the errands I'm running in addition to my driving to work.  Because my wife's car has added less than 300 miles since the last update (I'm still on track to post another update on Pearl before I write one for Dez), it's probably the errands.

I expect my mileage will be less at the next update, as I'll be off the last week of February/first week of March and not driving to work.  In addition, the weather is warming up, with near record temperatures beginning today and continuing through the week, as WXYZ reports in WARMTH STARTS TOMORROW.

That's the kind of weather that will induce me to walk some of those errands instead of driving them, which is better for both the planet's health and mine.

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature.  Right now, I'm planning on writing about the Writers Guild of America Awards nominees.  The winners will be presented on Sunday.

Friday, February 17, 2017

'A Day without Immigrants' in Michigan

Yesterday was "A Day without Immigrants," another series of protests against Trump's executive orders restricting immigration.  Protests happened all over the country, including here in Michigan.  WOOD-TV reported on the effect of the demonstrations both in Grand Rapids and throughout the country in ‘Day Without Immigrants’ demonstrators march in metro GR.

An estimated 1,500 people marched in metro Grand Rapids Thursday as part of the national “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration.
Detroit had its own protest, which WXYZ documented in Restaurants shut down in protest of Trump admin immigration policies.

The march wasn't as large as Grand Rapids, but it was big enough.

In addition to the protests above, there were demonstrations in Pontiac, restaurants closed in Ypsilanti, and farm labor work stoppages throughout rural Michigan.  That last one showed how important immigrant labor is for agriculture.  WDIV listed other economic sectors where immigrant workers perform much of the labor.
In 2015, 7.1 million U.S. restaurant workers were immigrants. In 2014, 1.1 million of those workers were undocumented, according to a PEW Research study. Only the construction industry has more undocumented workers than the restaurant industry.
I don't think Trump or his supporters really know what they're doing to America when they mess with immigration.

P.S. About the sign I used to illustrate this entry, I know Marla Maples was not an immigrant, but she had the briefest marriage of any of Trump's wives, which still supports the point that Trump also needs immigrants to do things that native-born Americans won't.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Music from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Trolls' win Grammy Awards

Yesterday, the BAFTA Film Awards.  Today, the Grammys, where two statues were given out to music from speculative fiction films.

When I previewed the Grammy Awards in December, I wrote that "I'd prefer John Williams' score for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' to win, but I'm not optimistic" as I thought "Stranger Things" had a better chance.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that that Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media went to John Williams after all.

This doesn't completely make up for not winning the Oscar, but it comes close.

The other speculative fiction winner was Justin Timberlake for "Can't Stop the Feeling" from "Trolls."

I was actually rooting for "Heathens" from "Suicide Squad" to win this award, but I'm fine with the selection.  In fact, I'd probably cheer any of the winners, as the field also included "Purple Lamborghini" from "Suicide Squad" and songs from "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and "Zootopia," along with a song from the political documentary "Snowden."  Superheroes, fantasy, and politics!

As for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media, I thought it would go to one from a movie about the music business and I was right, just wrong about which one.  I expected either "Amy" or "Straight Outta Compton" but it went to "Miles Ahead" from the Miles Davis biopic.  So much for "Suicide Squad."

I end this entry with "Can't Stop The Feeling!" Official Movie Clip.  Dance in celebration with the trolls!

From the creators of SHREK comes DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS, a smart, funny and irreverent comedy about the search for happiness, and just how far some will go to get it. This hilarious film transports audiences to a colorful, wondrous world populated by the overly optimistic Trolls, who have a constant dance in their step and a song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have trolls in their stomachs.

After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious curmudgeonly Branch (Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Together, this mismatched duo embarks on a rescue mission full of adventure and mishaps – trying to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done.

Utilizing music to further the film's narrative, the TROLLS soundtrack is produced by Justin Timberlake and features five original songs including songs by Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Anna Kendrick and Gwen Stefani, in addition to a number of classic hits from the ‘60s through the ‘80s.
We might see this song win again, as it's nominated for an Oscar.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Six wins for speculative fiction movies and actors at the BAFTA Film Awards

Two awards shows were held on Sunday, the Grammy Awards and the BAFTA Film Awards.  Speculative fiction managed to do well at both shows with six BAFTA wins and two Grammy wins.  I'll write about the Grammy Awards tomorrow.  Today belongs to the BAFTA winners.

The most nominated speculative fiction film at the BAFTA Awards was "Arrival" with nine nominations.  It managed to win only one category: Arrival wins a BAFTA for Sound.

Sylvain Bellemare, Claude La Haye and Bernard Gariépy Strobl collect the award for Sound for their work on Arrival.
I thought "La La Land" or "Hacksaw Ridge" would win this category.  I'm glad I was wrong.

The next most nominated speculative fiction film was "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" with five nominations.  It also won only one category: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wins Production Design.

Anna Pinnock and James Hambridge collect the award for Production Design for their work on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
That's another award I thought would go to "La La Land."  I guess 1920s New York makes for better inspiration than modern Los Angeles.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the winners.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Valentine goes to 'Lego Batman' as it spanks 'Fifty Shaders Darker'

Happy Valentines Day!  Two years ago, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' topped the Valentine's weekend box office.  This year, its sequel "Fifty Shades Darker" wasn't able to whip its competition.  Instead, Newsy reports 'Lego Batman' dominates box office weekend.

During a weekend at the movies that offered Lego superheroes, erotic fantasy film and angry action, moviegoers spread the ticket sales pretty evenly.
While "Fifty Shades Darker" wasn't able to repeat the performance of its predecessor at the box office, at least one of its songs, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)," has already reached third place on the Billboard Hot 100, tying the top songs from "Fifty Shades of Grey."  Here's the video.

In addition, Billboard reported last week that Halsey's "Not Afraid Anymore" has received more than six million downloads.  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!

Monday, February 13, 2017

R.I.P. Mike Ilitch

Yesterday, I wrote that I had an obituary planned for today.  It's Michael Ilitch: a lifelong Detroiter from John Kerfoot.

Detroit's Mike Ilitch. RIP.  [V]ideo by John Kerfoot.
Ilitch was loved in life and will be missed in death.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

'Meet the Coywolf': Evolution in action for Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day!  Normally, I'd focus on some entertainment news for today, since it's Sunday, but I took care of that yesterday with 'Arrival' leads speculative fiction film nominees at the BAFTA Awards.  Instead, I'm finding a compromise between observing today's holiday and the usual entertainment for Sunday by focusing on a particular program about evolution, just as I did last year with 'Your Inner Fish' for Darwin Day.

Today's show examines evolution taking place around me in eastern North America, the PBS Nature Documentary "Meet the Coywolf."  Here's the trailer from Arizona Public Media: Nature: Meet the Coywolf with text from another PBS promo.

Beginning in Canada but by no means ending there, the story of how it came to be is an extraordinary tale of how quickly adaptation and evolution can occur, especially when humans interfere. Tag along as scientists study this new top predator, tracking it from the wilderness of Ontario's Algonquin Park, through parking lots, alleys and backyards in Toronto all the way to the streets of New York City.
Follow over the jump for clips from the show itself, along with WNET's feature about coywolves/eastern coyotes in New York City.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

'Arrival' leads speculative fiction film nominees at the BAFTA Awards

I promised I would write about the speculative fiction entries among the BAFTA nominees at the end of Speculative fiction at the 2017 SAG Awards.  Since the awards ceremony is tomorrow, it's time to post that entry before it turns into a pumpkin.  Besides, I've had enough of DOOM, gloom, and Trump -- but I repeat myself.

"Arrival" is the second most nominated film at the BAFTA Awards with nine nominations, including Best Film, Best Director for Denis Villeneuve, Adapted Screenplay, Leading Actress for Amy Adams, Original Music, Cinematrography, Editing, Sound, and Special Visual Effects.  It is behind only "La La Land" with eleven nominations and tied with "Noctural Animals," which is the most nominated movie not in contention for Best Film.  It's also well ahead of the other speculative fiction nominees, the next most nominated of which, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," is up for five awards, just over half as many.

BAFTA itself wondered how good the film is in Was Arrival the Best Film of last year? | Our panel discuss the BAFTA Best Film nominations 2017.

[F]ilm critics Jason Solomons, Rhianna Dhillon and Danny Leigh discuss BAFTA Best Film nominee Arrival and it's nominations in multiple craft categories including Special Visual Effects, Original Music and Adapted Screenplay.
The answer was very good with special praise for Amy Adams for her acting, Denis Villeneuve for his direction, Jóhann Jóhannsson for his score, and Bradford Young for his cinematography.  Unfortunately, the film is competing against "La La Land" in all those categories, so I'm not optimistic about it winning them.  On the other hand, it does not face "La La Land" for Best Adapted Screenplay and Special Visual Effects.  There, its stiffest competition would likely be "Hidden Figures" for Adapted Screenplay and just about every other movie nominated for Special Effects.  Yes, the competition is that stiff in the category.

The next most nominated speculative fiction movie is "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" with five nominations, Outstanding British Film, Production Design, Costume Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects.  I'm pleased that it's so well recognized, but I doubt it will win any of the categories, likely losing to "I, Daniel Blake" for Outstanding British Film and "La La Land" for the design and sound categories, while facing stiff competition for Special Visual Effects.

Speaking of Visual Effects, the other nominees are "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "Doctor Strange," and "The Jungle Book," the first two of which are also nominated for Best Make-up and Hair.  No surprise, the speculative fiction films completely own special effects, so any one of them will be a victory for the genre.

The other category completely owned by speculative fiction films is Animated Film, where the nominees are "Finding Dory," "Kubo and the Two Strings," "Moana," and "Zootopia" under its British title "Zootropolis."  I'll go with the crowd and root for "Zootopia."  I don't think I'll go wrong.

There's one more speculative fiction film "Under the Shadow," which is a horror film nominated for Outstanding British Film, even though it's in Farsi.  I would have missed this film if I hadn't watched Our panel discuss the Outstanding British Film nominees.

Jason Solomons, Rhianna Dhillon and Danny Leigh give their take on the films nominated for Outstanding British Film - American Honey, Denial, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I, Daniel Blake, Notes on Blindness and Under The Shadow.
After watching this clip, I changed my pick in this category from "Denial" to "I, Daniel Blake."  After all, it is the only movie also nominated for Best Film.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trump Adminstration delays placing Rusty-Patched Bumblebee on Endangered Species List

Last month, I reported on the bees added to the endangered species list.  That was both bad news and good, as at least the bee species were getting the attention they needed to be saved.  Yesterday, one of those species got bad news, as Newsy reported in White House delays adding bee to endangered list.

The rusty patched bumblebee was supposed to be listed as endangered Friday, but the Trump administration delayed the listing until March.
While I didn't expect this particular piece of news, it's exactly the kind of news about the environment that I anticipated from this administration and why I opposed its election.  It's also one of the many reasons why I will continue to resist it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NBC News update on mammoth de-extinction

I've written before about the effort to revive the woolly mammoth, although it's been three years since the last entry, so it should come as no surprise that I'm posting the latest on the subject from NBC News: Scientist Tries To Bring The Woolly Mammoth Back From The Dead.

Harvard geneticist Dr. George Church has been using a gene editing tool called CRISPR to try to bring the woolly mammoth back from the dead. They call it de-extinction.
That's a different technique than I've seen discussed before.  That alone makes this video worth sharing, although the tie-in to climate change and how mammoths or more accurately, genetically engineered cold-resistant elephants that imitate them, can combat higher temperatures in the Arctic, is even more valuable.  It actually makes this quixotic effort practical.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

It was funnier when Chico Marx said it

Here's Chico pretending to be Groucho from "Duck Soup."

Chico (Chicolini) dressed as Groucho (Rufus T Firefly) in Duck Soup. Margaret Dumont (as Mrs. Teasdale) trying to make sense of it all.
Right now, this upload has only 657 views.  I'm sure it will get a lot more by the time Trump is done being President.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Speculative fiction movie and television commercials at the Super Bowl

At the end of Super Bowl drinks from Tipsy Bartender and others, I wrote that "I might have something about the live acts, including Lady Gaga and the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, later this week."  I changed my mind, although if my readers want to see the performance and read a commentary, Vox can oblige them, although they neglected to mention Cypress Independent Color Guard spinning and tossing for two numbers.  That's my contribution to the discussion.

Instead, I'm writing about the commercials, like I've done before.  I was tempted to blog about the politics of some of them, but Vox beat me to that, too.  Darn.

No, my focus today is on the movie and television shows advertised at the game, nearly all of which are for speculative fiction shows.  Here is a clip that has all of them in one place.  How convenient!

The speculative fiction movies ads are for "A Cure for Wellness," "Ghost in the Shell," "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. II," "Life," "Logan," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," and "Transformers: The Last Knight," while the television show preview is for "Stranger Things 2."  It looks like another good year for the kinds of movies and shows my wife and I like.

Yes, Vox has its own previews of the movie ads and television show spot, but I wasn't going to let them have all the fun!

Monday, February 6, 2017

'Hidden Figures' and 'Fences' had big nights at the SAG Awards

While I was celebrating the speculative fiction winners at the SAG awards, there was one other film I was rooting for that was about space.
I'm also rooting for another movie about space, "Hidden Figures," even though the film falls under historical fiction and science fact, not science fiction.  The movie was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Octavia Spencer.  I'd be surprised if it wins either, but the film and actress deserved their nominations.
Much to my pleasant surprise, it won for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.  Here is the acceptance speech.

Hidden Figures cast celebrate victory for their win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

As for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, that didn't go to Octavia Spencer, but Viola Davis instead, just as it did for the Golden Globes.

Viola Davis shares passionate acceptance speech after winning Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role in Fences.
Denzel Washington cheered on Davis and she returned the favor for Washington in his acceptance speech.

Denzel Washington wins Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.
It may not have been a good evening for speculative fiction in the movies at the SAG Awards, as Amy Adams of "Arrival" lost to Emma Stone of "La La Land" and "Hacksaw Ridge" beat both superhero movies, but it was a good evening for diversity.  May it continue at the Oscars!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Super Bowl drinks from Tipsy Bartender and others

Full-sized original and recipes here.

Yesterday, I promised "a special entertainment feature tomorrow for the Super Bowl."  It's time to follow through with an updated version of last year's Super Bowl drinks from Tipsy Bartender.

This year, Skyy posted only one recipe, Super Bowl Margarita Jungle Juice.

5 Cups Tequila
1 1/2 Cups Grand Marnier
3 Cups Triple Sec
1 1/2 Cups Lime Juice
3 Cups Sweet & Sour
4L Mango Nectar
4 oz. (120ml) Blue Curaçao
Limes carved into footballs
Orange Slices
Strawberry Slices
*Bottle (750ml size)
For a couple months, Skyy had no Tipsy Girls in his video besides his girlfriend Emma.  It turned out he noticed that he was slowing down, as I had pointed out in Tipsy Bartender drinks for Thanksgiving 2016, and thought he should eliminate the girls so he could post more videos.  He was able to do that, but his viewers missed the girls.  They returned last week.  I'm glad he was able to find a balance.

Follow over the jump for more recipes.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

'Stranger Things' wins awards from both SAG and Producers Guild

I made the following observation and prediction about the the nominees in Speculative fiction at the 2017 SAG Awards.
The three shows with the most nominations are "Game of Thrones," "Stranger Things," and "Westworld," with three nominations each, with all of them nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Drama Series, the SAG equivalent of Best Drama Series.  As I wrote about speculative fiction television nominations at the Golden Globes, "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."  Add in the opinion of the actors themselves, and its now a clear popular, critical, and professional consensus on both the best speculative fiction shows and their place among the best television shows of last year.  As for whether any of them win top honors, I'd be pleasantly surprised, but I have a feeling "Downton Abbey" might get Outstanding Cast for its final season.
I was happy to be wrong.  "Stranger Things" won Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Drama Series.  From TNT, here is the Stranger Things Cast: Acceptance Speech.

Stranger Things receives award for Outstanding Performance in an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
That's a justifiably happy group, even if both Millie Bobby Brown and Winona Ryder lost to Claire Foy for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Crown."

SAG/AFTRA wasn't the only organization in Hollywood recognizing outstanding achievement in film and television on Sunday.  Producers Guild of America did as well and "Stranger Things" won the Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama.  The other speculative fiction series it was competing against were "Game of Thrones" and "Westworld"--no surprise there.

I wrote that it would be the year of "Stranger Things" in Speculative fiction on television at the People's Choice Awards 2017, part 1.  That prediction finally seems to be coming true as the professionals weigh in.

The other speculative fiction winner was "Game of Thrones" for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series.  I was not surprised, as it was the defending winner of the category.

Stay tuned for a special entertainment feature tomorrow for the Super Bowl.

Friday, February 3, 2017

DNews explains why you shouldn't panic about eating bugs

It looks like I'm seeing more interest in eating bugs.  I hadn't posted a video on entomophagy for more than a year since Cracked on insects as a food of the future in October 2015, then came Entomophagy: Student Sustainability Video Festival 62 in December and Sam Wang eats a bug on CNN in January.  Today, I see that DNews tells its viewers There Are Bugs In Your Food! Here's Why You Shouldn't Panic.

A new study shows there are stink bugs in wine. But what else is in our food? And is eating bugs really that bad for you?
Bon appetit!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day and 'Groundhog Day'--six more weeks of winter for 2017

Because I can't be all DOOM all the time, I wish my readers a Happy Groundhog Day!  So what did the woodchuck say about the weather today?  USA Today reports Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow, predicts 6 more weeks of winter.  Well, poop.  Between that and Trump as President, it's almost enough to convince one to drive off with the groundhog.

Phil (Bill Murray) loses it and steals Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) and drives off the cliff of a gravel pit. Priceless! This is the best scene from Groundhog Day, which is one of my absolute favorite movies!
Almost.  Unlike Bill Murray's character, I wouldn't come back from that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Nuclear war and how to survive it from ASAP Science and ASAP Thought

Two videos on nuclear war were trending the same day that Trump helped move the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight.  I don't think that was a coincidence.  As a doomer blogger, I'd be remiss if I didn't share them and make the connection.

The first was from ASAP Science, What If We Have A Nuclear War?

What would happen if a nuclear weapon was dropped near you?
The answer is you'd probably die.

The second is from ASAP Science's sister channel, ASAP Thought, How To Survive a Nuclear War.

What should you do if a nuclear bomb is dropped near you?
The answer is put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

Seriously, these are good videos given the subject.  Nuclear war scared me as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, so I responded the way I knew best; I researched it.*  Yes, I was something of a doomer even back then.  Everything in these videos is consistent with what I remember finding out about the subject more than 40 years ago, so it's probably among the best advice available.

This concludes your daily dose of DOOM!  Stay tuned for something lighter tomorrow, as it's Groundhog Day.  I can't be all DOOM all the time!

*I was still scared as a young adult in the 1980s.  As I wrote in Doomsday Clock advanced to 11:57, "From 1984-1988, I gave thanks at the UCLA-USC football game that I got to see another year.  I was that worried about nuclear war ending civilization."  I have a feeling I'm going to find some other annual event to do that now.