Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Green Ninja: Student Sustainability Video Festival 69


I know I promised to post part II of Part I of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? What the critics think today, but I woke up a bit late and I have tons of papers to grade this evening after the last final of the summer semester, so I don't have time right now.  Instead, I'm doing what I usually do when I have final exams to grade, post installments of the Student Sustainability Video Festival, which I left off with episode 68, Butterflies last January.  Today, I'm resuming the series with Green Ninja: Footprint Renovation.

While a man sleeps, his feet grow to a gigantic size due to the carbon footprint of his home. The Green Ninja - a climate action superhero, is called in to help.
That was my favorite video among those my students showed me that semester, as it was both fun and informative.  My students liked other talks and their videos more.  I'll be showing them later this week and through the weekend to Monday.  As for speculative fiction becoming mainstream, the second installment is half-written.  I might get to it tomorrow, depending on how grading goes.  Otherwise, I'll post it next week.  Stay tuned.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Vox on the Great American Eclipse


I concluded Part I of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? What the critics think with a program note about today.
Tomorrow is the Great American Eclipse.  I can't miss that!
I am suffering from an embarrassment of riches on this topic, as there are eleven videos on the YouTube channels I subscribe to from the past 24 hours alone.  I'm not going to pick any of them.  Instead, I'm embedding two from Vox, beginning with Why a total solar eclipse is such a big deal.

How solar and lunar eclipses work.
That's one of the better videos I've seen explaining eclipses and I've posted a lot of them over the years.

Vox expands on the emotional impact of eclipses in Tales from the shadow of the moon.

Eclipse chasers tell us what it's like to witness a total solar eclipse.
I found that very moving.  While it's not enough to make me drive eight hours each way to view totality today, it will be enough to make me drive an hour (and probably miss work) to see totality south of Toledo, Ohio in April 2024.  Chances are very good that I'll still be here for that.

As for my readers, enjoy the eclipse!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Part I of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? What the critics think


At his new blog Ecosophia, John Michael Greer made several claims about science fiction that I feel inspired to test.  Today, I'm examining the easiest one to verify or falsify, Greer's claim that "science fiction went mainstream in the late 1970s."  He's basing it on the criterion that "tenured academics stopped turning up their noses at 'all that Buck Rogers stuff,' as a handful of the more literary SF authors found their work being reviewed in highbrow periodicals and the genre as a whole found itself afflicted with creeping respectability."  That's a difficult criterion for me to evaluate.  As much as I am becoming an expert on current science fiction in film and television and am starting my project of blogging the Saturn Awards to become better versed in the history of speculative fiction on the large and small screens, I am not yet ready to do this for literary science fiction in the way I think this claim deserves.  To begin with, I do not have the access to an academic library full of literary reviews to examine to see if that indeed began happening then based on identifying the subjects of reviews and counting the relevant ones by year to detect a trend or inflection point.  So, I'll have to do it some other way.  After all, this is a blog entry, not a formal academic paper.

For plan B, I'm citing two articles on the subject, When sci-fi went mainstream from the Los Angeles Review of Books republished in Salon and a review of "The Secret History of Science Fiction" at Tor.com to see if there is an alternative hypothesis about when science fiction "went mainstream" (I'm not disputing that it has; my writing about science fiction and other speculative fiction genres being successful at awards shows demonstrates that has happened).  The first, published in 2012, refers to science fiction's "meteoric rise over the last thirty years from lowbrow genre to literary respectability," placing the beginning of science fiction becoming mainstream about 1972.  The author Lee Konstantinou then writes about how the process really began in 1960 with the publication of "New Maps of Hell" by Kingsley Amis, a series of literary essays about science fiction.  One of Amis's predictions, that "this genre will never make it in film or television," amuses me, as it quite evidently has.  In fact, it already had made it on television with "The Twilight Zone" debuting in 1959.  I won't let that bad prognostication stand in the way of using Amis's book as evidence for an eariler date for the beginning of science fiction's mainstream acceptance.  Konstantinou also cites the early science fiction works of Anthony Burgess, particularly "A Clockwork Orange," published in 1962, as an example of a mainstream novelist finding science fiction a respectable enough genre to write in.  Both examples point to science fiction becoming mainstream before the late 1970s.

"Genre in the mainstream: The Secret History of Science Fiction" also argues that mainstream writers have been writing science fiction since the 1970s and points to an incident in the early 1970s that supports the mainstreaming of the genre then.  The nominees for the 1974 Nebula Award for Best Novel included "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon, a mainstream writer.  It lost, but its mere nomination shows that, not only were mainstream novelists accepting science fiction by writing in the genre, but science fiction writers were beginning to accept them as well.  Again, this is evidence that science fiction was becoming mainstream by the early 1970s, if not earlier.

Having looked at some of the previous studies of when science fiction and other speculative fiction genres becoming mainstream, I now have an alternative claim from Greer's that the mainstreaming of speculative fiction genres started happening by the early 1970s, if not by 1960.  Stay tuned for my testing that hypothesis by using another data series and a slighly different criterion.  On Tuesday, I plan to use the Publishers Weekly lists of bestselling novels in the United States and Lists of The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers to determine when science fiction and other speculative fiction genres became mainstream from the perspective of the book-buying public instead of the critics.  Why Tuesday?  Tomorrow is the Great American Eclipse.  I can't miss that!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Scaramucci gets his wish as Bannon departs the White House


I originally had the Woodward Dream Cruise as the subject of today's post.  In fact, "Dream Cruise 2017" was the working title of today's post on my schedule.*  I'm not feeling it, as there are far more important things going on than what I call "dopamine returned on gasoline invested."  I'll let Stephen Colbert set up one of them in Anthony Scaramucci Would Fire Steve Bannon.

Front-stabber Anthony Scaramucci believes Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon has his own motives.
Colbert: "Do you think Bannon will be out in a week?"  Scaramucci: "If it were up to me."  That's interesting.  Hold that thought, as Scaramucci had more to say in Anthony Scaramucci Doesn't Like Bannon's 'Toleration' Of White Supremacists.

Ex-White House Communication Director Anthony Scaramucci renounces elements within the White House he perceives as encouraging white supremacist ideology.
"Mooch" may be a bit of a douche, but he showed here that he has a good sense of humor and is, like Roger Stone, fun to be around.  As for Bannon being out by the end of the week, that happened as CNN reported yesterday Trump fires Steve Bannon.

President Trump has fired chief strategist Steve Bannon. Sources tell CNN that Bannon's exit had been in the works for two weeks. CNN's Joe Johns reports.
Good riddance for all the reasons mentioned in all three videos and then some.  I'm glad Scaramucci got his wish.  That written, I'm not done with Bannon, as he is guaranteed to be even more vocal at Breitbart and also plays a tangential role in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned.

*Maybe next year, when August might return to being a slow news month.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kid Rock for Senate?


Kevin Robbins of Hometown U.S.A. and I had this enchange in the comments to Entertainers and sports organizations condemn Charlottesville violence and trademark infringement.
[Kevin:] I trust Senator Stabenow will chew up and spit out little bits of Kid Rock next year. The Republican primary, presuming there is one, should be a show for the ages.

[Me:] Me, too. Thanks for mentioning that. I really have been neglecting a big story in my own backyard. I'll have to remedy that in the near future.
It turns out I have been ignoring this story for longer than I thought.  Nearly six months ago, Stephen Colbert observed If 'President Trump' Is Hard To Say, Try 'Senator Kid Rock'.

Kid Rock is running for Senate in Michigan, and there's only one man standing in his way.
LOL!  Unfortunately for Kid Rock, his primary opponent won't be the fictional Shrieking Joe.  They're the very real Bloomfield Hills businesswoman Lena Epstein, who was Michigan co-chair for Trump, and retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young.  In addition, businessman and Iraq War veteran John James of Farmington Hills has formed an exploratory committee, as The Detroit News reported.  Follow over the jump for my analysis of that field.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

'Riverdale' leads television shows with seven Teen Choice Awards


Yesterday was my time to feature the movie winners at the Teen Choice Awards.  Today, as I promised yesterday and teased weeks before then, it's time for me to report on the television winners.  I begin with the cast of "Riverdale" accepting the surfboard for Choice Drama TV Show.

We're HYPED that Riverdale won Choice Drama TV show! Share to show your love!
"Riverdale" was the most honored show last Sunday, earning seven surfboards, two more than "Beauty and the Beast" did in the movie categories.  The video listed them, but here they are again from Deadline Hollywood along with my reactions: Choice Drama TV Show, Choice Drama TV Actor for Cole Sprouse as Jughead (K.J. Apa as Archie was nominated for Choice Breakout TV Star), Choice Breakout TV Show, Choice Breakout TV Star for Lili Reinhart (But Apa didn't win, Reinhart's Betty did), Choice TV Ship for Sprouse and Reinhart (as I wrote last month about the nominees, "Betty and Jughead?  Betty and Veronica are supposed to fight over Archie with Reggie trying to date the loser, while Jughead sits on the sideline"), Choice Hissy Fit for Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossum, and Choice Scene Stealer for Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge.  Wow!  Between winning Best Action/Thriller TV Series at the Saturn Awards and all these awards won here, I think I really should watch "'Archie' pretending to be 'Twin Peaks,'" even if or maybe because it's such an odd interpretation of "Archie."

Did I call these wins?  Mostly no, even though I was rooting for "Riverdale" in most categories.  I thought "Pretty Little Liars" would win Choice Drama TV Show, even though I noted "Riverdale" was getting a big push from either the studio or the network (that may be a distinction without a difference, as the studio is Warner Brothers, half-owner of The CW) and that I'd have voted for if I could have (I missed the deadline).  I also thought Ian Harding from "Pretty Little Liars" would win, too, but would have voted for Cole Sprouse if I could.  On the other hand, I voted for "Stranger Things" to win Choice Breakout TV Show, but expected "Riverdale" to win.  I also voted for Millie Bobbie Brown to win Choice Breakout TV Star, but expected K.J. Apa to win.  Neither happened, but at least it was a "Riverdale" star.  I expected "Bughead" to win and it did.  Finally, I didn't even come close with Choice Hissy Fit (I thought it would go to Luke Evans' Gaston) or Choice Scene Stealer (I voted for Michael Roker, then noticed Colin O'Donoghue as Killian "Captain Hook" Jones from "Once Upon a Time" on the ballot and switched my vote on the second day).  Two-and-one-half out of seven is not good prognosticating, but the actual results were more to my liking.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the television winners.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

'Beauty and the Beast' the big winner at the Teen Choice Awards as speculative fiction dominates the movie categories


After teasing my readers multiple times, I'm finally getting around to the winners of the Teen Choice Awards.  Today, I'm writing about the movie winners, which, as Deadline Hollywood reports, were dominated by speculative fiction films.

The big winner was "Beauty and the Beast" with five awards, Choice Fantasy Film, Choice Fantasy Movie Actress for Emma Watson, Choice Movie Villain for Luke Evans, and Choice Movie Ship and Choice Liplock for Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.  This result actually yielded fewer awards than I expected the box office leader for 2017 to achieve, as I predicted a "Beauty and the Beast" sweep of all nominated categories, which would have given the live-action remake of the animated film seven awards.  The categories it lost were Choice Fantasy Movie Actor, which went to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for his role in "Moana," and Choice Hissy Fit, earned by Madelaine Petsch of "Riverdale."  I did predict that The Rock would win a movie award, just not this one.  Still, I'm happy about it.  As for "Riverdale" upsetting "Beauty and the Beast," I'll have more about that when I write about the television awards.

Three of the surfboards for "Beauty and the Beast" were earned in whole or in part by Emma Watson, Choice Fantasy Movie Actress, Choice Movie Ship, and Choice Liplock.  She won a fourth for Choice Drama Actress in "The Circle."  I'm pretty sure that means she won more awards than any other film or TV performer.  Congratulations!  As for "The Circle," I ignored it other than noting that Watson was in it, but it turns out that it's a thriller set twenty minutes into the future, which means it also qualifies as a science fiction movie, which IMDB considers it to be.  That means that only three surfboards for movie categories went out to films that were not speculative ficion, Choice Drama to "Everything, Everything" (I called that), Choice Drama Movie Actor to Kian Lawley for "Before I Fall" (I missed that one), and Zak Efron for "Baywatch" (I thought the other nominee from "Baywatch" would win).  That's actually one fewer than I expected, as my weak prediction was for Amandla Stenberg to win for her role in "Everything, Everything" instead of Watson.  This is one case where I am happy to be wrong.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the movie awards, including Action, Sci-Fi, and Summer Movie.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Colbert on the nuclear crisis with North Korea


Besides Charlottesville, the other big story  over the weekend was the threat of nuclear war with North Korea.  I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote on my Dreamwidth account for Presidential Joke Day.
I'm posting about National Presidential Joke Day both here and at Crazy Eddie's Motie News. There, the post was SNL mocks Trump for Presidential Joke Day. Here, it's Colbert saying Stephen Doesn't Want The Earth To Blow Up.

As a homeowner and inhabitant of the planet, Stephen is really hoping Earth continues to be.
Doomer though I am, I'm with Colbert. I may repost this at Crazy Eddie's Motie News on Tuesday, after I post the worksheet for "Treasures of the Earth: Power" that I promised to post three weeks ago, the winners for Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards, and the winners of the Teen Choice Awards.
Posted here as promised along with the first two on the list.  The Teen Choice Award winners may take a little longer.  Stay tuned.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Entertainers and sports organizations condemn Charlottesville violence and trademark infringement


I promised I'd write about the winners of the Teen Choice Awards today.  That's not happening, but I do have a report from the red carpet of the Teen Choice Awards: Teen Choice stars react to 'heartbreaking' Charlottesville events by the Associated Press.*

Yara Shahidi, Ashleigh Murray, Gigi Gorgeous and Grant Gustin react to the violent events in Charlottesville, as they arrive for the Teen Choice Awards.
I found Shahidi and Murray to be very articulate and insightful about the event, while Gorgeous was merely adequate and Gustin a bit disappointing, if properly appalled.  Then again, his character Barry Allen never fought Nazis during the Golden Age; that was the province of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash.  If John Wesley Shipp, who plays Garrick on "The Flash," had made such an inarticulate response, I'd have been really disappointed.

Moving from entertainment to sports and from national to local, WXYZ reports on the Weimar moment in Charlottesville in Detroit Red Wings condemn use of logo during white nationalist rally.

The Detroit Red Wings are condemning the use of the team's logo by white nationalists during a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday.
I hope the Red Wings and NFL find the person responsible for infringing on the logo and punish him to the full extent allowed under civil law, which means (probably) he will be bankrupted.  That's a small thing compared to the one death and 19 injuries, but it will be something.  Speaking of which, WXYZ has more on the vehicle (murder weapon) in How metro Detroit is connected to deadly white nationalist rally in Vi[r]ginia.

The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. that is being linked to three deaths has two metro Detroit connections. A woman from Canton Was at the rally this afternoon an[d] captured video of the crash on Facebook Live, moments after the car ran into protestors.
Yes, the car used to belong to someone in Michigan.  If the Detroit media find any connection to Detroit or Michigan in a story, they'll promote it.  At least the former owner is not responsible, while the driver is from over the state line in Toledo, Ohio.

Finally, I called the incident a Weimar moment earlier.  That's because it's another step up in violence from 1968 has arrived with a Weimar moment in San Jose.  There, the political violence was relatively disorganized, partisan mob on partisan mob.  Here, the organized attacks and counter-attacks and the first stage of uniformed political militias (logos on shields passed out to the alt-right demonstrators, along with helmets and batons) reached the stage I first described in The torches and pitchforks came out for Trump last night, complete with actual Nazis.
The protests and the conflict afterward stuck me as just one step short of Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold fighting with the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten during the Weimar Republic.
The counter-protesters weren't that organized, but they were more organized and ready for violence than I had seen them since Trump declared he was running.  I think we've gone beyond 1968 to something the U.S. hasn't seen since the Silver Shirts were active in the 1930s.  That's frightening.

ETA: It's not just the Red Wings and NHL objecting to the misuse of their images and products by the alt-right.  Now The Hill reports Tiki brand denounces use of torches by white supremacists.

*I'll post the winners later this week, perhaps beginning as soon as tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'Arrival' and 'The Expanse' win Best Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards


Today, I'm fulfilling the second promise I made at the end of SNL mocks Trump for Presidential Joke Day, "stay tuned for...the winners for Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards."*  Tor.com has announced the winners of all the Hugo Awards, so it's time to check my prediction that "I think "Arrival" will win this category in a walk."  It did.  Eric Heisserer can put the rocket for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) next to his Saturn Award for Best Film Screenplay and the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation.  Congratulations!  The best science fiction film of last year really did win, the Saturn Award for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" notwithstanding.


It turns out that I didn't make a prediction for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form); I was too busy whining that "Westworld" wasn't nominated.  It turned out that the episode I proposed, "The Bicameral Mind," didn't qualify.  It has a running time of 90 minutes, which meant it qualified for the long form category, not the short form.  "The Original" would have qualified at 68 minutes, but it wasn't nominated.  Darn.  I reacted by deciding to promoting "Westworld" at the 2017 Saturn Awards.  It worked, as it won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Television Series.

As for what I would have predicted in April, it would have been “Black Mirror: 'San Junipero'” or “Doctor Who: 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio.'”  However, if I were voting, it would have been for "The Expanse: 'Leviathan Wakes.'"  Much to my pleasant surprise, it won.  Congratulations!  My favorite of all the nominees won!

It turns out that it was the second time for this story at the Hugo Awards.  The book "Leviathan Wakes" was nominated for Best Novel in 2012 but didn't win.  Looks like being turned into a television show helped it the second time around.

As for the rest of the nominees, it looks like the insurgency posed by the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies is over, as none of their nominees won (again) and most of the slate didn't even get nominated.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that these people, like the Gamergators, have become more active outside of fandom.  Ugh.

*The first I satisfied by posting Worksheet for 'Treasures of the Earth: Power'.  The third will be about the winners of the Teen Choice Awards.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Worksheet for 'Treasures of the Earth: Power'


Yesterday, I told my readers to "stay tuned for the worksheet for "Treasures of the Earth: Power" that I promised to post three weeks ago" and which should have been posted two weeks ago.  Oh, well, I'm known to run late and still have some proposed series from six years ago unfinished, so two weeks isn't bad for me.  Follow over the jump for the worksheet, which the students were able to use much easier than the one for "The End of Suburbia."  I had to write a guide for my students to find the answers to that one.

Friday, August 11, 2017

SNL mocks Trump for Presidential Joke Day


National Day Calendar says today is a political holiday.
National Presidential Joke Day is observed annually on August 11.

A day to recognize the humor often found and yet not so appreciated in the highest office in the land, National President[i]al [Joke] Day offers a nod to the gaffes, social missteps and sometimes downright hilarious mistakes presidents make. During an election year, the scrutiny of the constituency can be brutal; the presidential candidates should be prepared to handle the presidential joke.  The citizenry will be listening!
...
Of all your presidential memories and history lessons what is your favorite presidential joke? Use #PresidentialJokeDay to share on social media.
I don't have a good presidential joke of my own to tell that will work in print.*  However, I don't have to.  I can outsource the joke telling to experts such as Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update on White House Staffing Changes.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, including White House staffing changes and North Korea's threat to use nuclear missiles.
I think that demonstrates in part why SNL tied "Westworld" for the most Primetime Emmy nominations this year.

I'll get back to SNL and the other Emmy nominees later, I promise.  In the meantime, stay tuned for the worksheet for "Treasures of the Earth: Power" that I promised to post three weeks ago, the winners for Dramatic Presentation at the Hugo Awards, and the winners of the Teen Choice Awards.

*I do a series of one-word impressions to the Cartoon on oil dependence I posted as a Blast from the Past five years ago.  I told it to one of my classes Wednesday and it killed.  Unfortunately, I don't allow videos of my lectures, so I don't have one to post.  Darn.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kunstler and I discuss zombies and bags of dog poop


I've been posting my saved comments other blogs to my Dreamwidth account and found three of them that are responses to the blogger or his readers about zombies.  Today, I'll post the shortest, which was a reaction to James Howard Kunstler on Death to All Zombies!
“A zombie is a terrible thing to behold, but a zombie holding a bag of dog-shit is like unto the end of the world.” No, a zombie holding a bag of dog shit is funny. All that needs to make it funnier is setting the bag on fire. Of course, the zombie will still try to eat your brains, but you’ll get a good laugh out of it. Just don’t step on the burning bag once you shoot the zombie in the head.

I'll get around to posting the other two later.  When?  Before "Fear the Walking Dead" returns next month.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

'Love Has No Labels' and 'Women's March' among 2017 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Commercial


I wrote that I would write more about the Emmy nominees at the end of Religion and politics at the 2017 Television Critics Association Awards as 'The Handmaid's Tale' wins two awards.  Instead of writing about speculative fiction, like I did for "Westworld," "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" making news with multiple Emmy nominations for drama series.  I continued my pursuit with posts about Star Wars, The Walking Dead franchise and 'Gotham' and other superhero shows, I'm planning the first of a series of entries about politically themed nominees, much as I did for the political-themed nominees at the 2017 Television Critics Awards.  I'm starting with just one category for today's entry.
Commercial

John X Hannes & Smuggler (“Calling JohnMalkovich.com – Squarespace”)
R/GA & Tool of North America (“Love Cam – Ad Council: Love Has No Labels”)
R/GA & MJZ (“We Are America – Ad Council: Love Has No Labels”)
McGarry Bowen & Hungry Man Productions (“Why I March – Women’s March on Washington”)
72 and Sunny & Hecho en 72 (“Year in Search 2016 – Google”)
The middle three are expressly political and the last one is about last year's news.  Given that it was an election year, a lot of that was political, too.  Only the very first had no political content, so it goes last in this post.  That means the second one listed goes first, although the Ad Council on YouTube doesn't call it "Love Cam." It's Fans of Love.

For years, kiss cams have been a big part of American sports culture. This year, Love Has No Labels puts a twist on the kiss cam by turning it into a symbol for unbiased love. In the stadium, fans cheered for love in all its forms - regardless of race, gender, disability, age or religion.

Love Has No Labels is a movement to open our eyes to unconscious bias. While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see - whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. By becoming aware of our own biases, we can work to end bias in ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities. Rethink bias at www.lovehasnolabels.com.
...
Music: "Show Me Love (feat. Chance the Rapper, Moses Sumney, and Robin Hannibal) [Skrillex Remix]" - Hundred Waters
I enjoyed that, but I liked the next public service announcement even better: We Are America ft. John Cena.

To love America is to love all Americans. John Cena takes a break between dropping body slams to drop some truth – that patriotism is more than pride of country, it’s love beyond labels.

While the vast majority of Americans consider themselves unprejudiced, many of us unintentionally make snap judgments about people based on what we see - whether it’s race, age, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. The Love Has No Labels campaign challenges us to open our eyes to our implicit, or unconscious, bias and work to stop it in ourselves, our families, our friends, and our colleagues. Rethink your bias at www.lovehasnolabels.com.
I think history is on the side of one of these two will winning.  I'll explain why over the jump -- after the other three nominees and last year's winner.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Religion and politics at the 2017 Television Critics Association Awards as 'The Handmaid's Tale' wins two awards


I'm starting with two comments from the Booman Tribune version of  Lots of politics in nonfiction television at the 2017 Television Critics Awards to fulfill yesterday promise that I would write about the winners of the Television Critics Association Awards today.
Don Durito: Samantha Bee is crushing it! My spouse has been a huge fan of Samantha Bee's show and got me hooked. Especially in these times, gallows humor does well. Her time on The Daily Show during John Stewart's tenure was well spent.

Me: I really have to watch her on TV, not just YouTube, where I'm subscribed to her channel.  Unfortunately, her show was not voted the best this year. From the press release: "A&E’s investigative true-life series LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH received the award for Outstanding Achievement In Reality Programming; and ESPN’s provocative five-part documentary event O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA nabbed Outstanding Achievement In News and Information."  May she have better luck at the Emmy Awards, where "Full Frontal" has 3 Emmy nominations and "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" has 4.
Did I call those?  Sort of.  I thought John Oliver would win instead of Bee, but I also wrote ""O.J.: Made in America" has been nominated for six primetime Emmy Awards" and is also an Oscar winner.  That should have told me that the critics would likely pick it.  On the other hand, I opined "I suspect they will vote for either Leah Remini, a story about Hollywood that other people in Hollywood would like, or 'The Keepers.'"  The critics voted like the Hollywood professionals, for a Hollywood story.

Remini's show about Scientology winning ties into two other shows that won on Saturday, "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Leftovers," both of which are about religion and government's response to it.  "The Handmaid's Tale" won two awards, Outstanding Achievement in Drama and Program of the Year, beating "Stranger Things" in both categories and "The Leftovers" in the first.  While "Stranger Things" left these awards empty-handed, "The Leftovers" shared a win for Carrie Coon's performance in it and "Fargo."  I have to be happy for Coon and "The Leftovers," as I was rooting for her and she was snubbed for her performance in this show at the Emmy Awards.  On the other hand, I expect "The Handmaid's Tale" of a theocratic dystopian America will win more honors at the Emmys than I expected just a week ago.

"Stranger Things" wasn't the only speculative fiction program to leave without an award.  "The Good Place" lost to "Atlanta" for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy and Individual Achievement in Comedy (Danny Glover beat Kristen Bell) and lost to "This is Us" for Outstanding New Program.  I thought Glover would win, but called "Black-ish" to win the Comedy award.

Finally, "Big Little Lies" won for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials, while "Speechless" won Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming.  I was rooting for "Elena of Avalor" to win the youth category, but I did say "Speechless" was the one nominated show I would actually watch.

That's it for this TCA, now for the other TCA, the Teen Choice Awards -- but only after more about the Emmy nominees.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Blogging the Saturn Awards 1973 -- 'Slaughterhouse Five' and 'Blacula' the first winners


I know that I promised yesterday that I would write about the winners of the Television Critics Association Awards today.  I'm not feeling it and I don't have enough time.  I promise I'll get to it tomorrow.

Instead, I'm going to write the first installment of a long term project, blogging the Saturn Awards from their beginnings in 1973 until 2015, the year before I wrote about them in real time.  This is a project inspired by io9's Blogging the Hugos, which I found an interesting and entertaining way to learn literary science fiction history through the best novels of the year.  I hope to do the same for media science fiction here, along the way also looking at how the entertainment media landscape has changed during the past 44 years.

The inaugural Saturn Awards honored only two movies that year, the Best Science Fiction Film and the Best Horror Film.  According to IMDB and Wikipedia, they were "Slaughterhouse Five" and "Blacula."  "Slaughterhouse Five" was pretty much a consensus winner, as it also won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation that year.  As for "Blacula," at least it was a horror film that I had heard of back then and still remember (supernatural film horror isn't really my thing; science fiction horror is another matter).

IMDB doesn't list any nominees for what was then called the Golden Scroll award.  In the case of the science fiction films, that's not a big loss.  After perusing the list at Wikipedia, I found only three legitimate contenders, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes," "Silent Running," and "Solaris."*  A fifth nominee would have shown a distinct drop in quality.  The one I'd have chosen would have been the Disney comedy "Now You See Him, Now You Don't" with Kurt Russell as an invisible college student and it would have been a joke in more ways than one.  The comparable list for the horror films tells a different story.  There were lots of horror films that year, one of which stands out as having a more durable legacy than "Blacula" -- "Ben."  If nothing else, it had a great theme song that was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe.  Here's Michael Jackson performing the song at the Oscars.

Michael Jackson performing Original Song nominee "Ben" from the film "Ben" at the 45th Annual Academy Awards® in 1973. Introduced by Charlton Heston.
Despite the power of the song, "Ben" may not have been as good as "Blacula" as a horror film and I'm not going to question the judgment of the voters 44 years after the fact any more.

This was a short entry.  Future installments of this series will be longer, as the number of categories increases and IMDB also lists nominees, but that's a problem for later.  Enough of the past.  I'll get back to the present tomorrow.

*"Silent Running" would have been a good film to discuss in terms of the environmental collapse theme of this blog.  Some other time.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

'Gotham' leads superhero shows at the Primetime Emmy Awards with three nominations


I've been pursuing my geeky, nerdy, and fannish interest in this year's Emmy Award nominations ever since I wrote about "Westworld," "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" making news with multiple Emmy nominations for drama series.  I continued my pursuit with posts about Star Wars and The Walking Dead franchise.  Today, it's time to write about the comic book adaptation shows.

"Gotham" earned three nominations, nearly as much as the rest of the comic book adaptation shows nominated combined.  Three of those were Marvel shows and the last was for an animated show, which means that "Supergirl," the big winner among superhero shows at this year's Saturn Awards and the most nominated superhero show at this year's Teen Choice Awards, was shut out, as were all the rest of the DC shows.  This confirms my opinion that "Gotham" is the superhero show the television professionals watch and like, while "Supergirl" is the show the fans most like.*

Follow over the jump for the nominations.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Fear the Walking Dead: Passage" contributes to diversity at the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards


Last year, I noted how "The Walking Dead" franchise contributed to the diversity of acting nominees in Emmy nominations for acting showcase diversity.  History repeats this year, both with increased diversity among the nominees in general and "Fear The Walking Dead: Passage" in particular contributing to it.  I begin with a report from Wochit Entertainment: Emmys 2017 Is The Most Diverse In History

The 69th Primetime Emmy nominees are the most diverse in the program's history.
25 people of color were nominated across 18 onscreen acting awards, while 22 were nominated in 2016. Last year, people of color represented 24.6 percent of the major acting nominees. In 2015, that percentage was 21.9. In 2014, it was 9.7. In addition to the acting nominees, "Atlanta," "black-ish" and "Master of None" received nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. The shows' leads, Donald Glover, Anthony Anderson and Aziz Ansari, will compete for the Lead Actor in a Comedy category. The 69th Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will air live on Sunday, September 17th.
In addition to the comedy nominees named and shown in the video, I've mentioned some of the other nominees contributing to the increased diversity among the nominees in 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13 -- Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson for "How to Get Away with Murder," Sterling K. Brown in "This is Us," Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright in "Westworld," Samira Wiley in "The Handmaid's Tale," and Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox in "Orange is the New Black" -- and More nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards -- Lawrence Fishburne as the narrator of "Year Million" and (arguably) Neil DeGrasse Tyson as host of "Startalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson."  There was one I missed -- Kelsey Scott, who joins Michelle Ang as the only actors ever nominated at the Emmy Awards for their roles in "The Walking Dead" franchise.
Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

Mindy Sterling (“Con Man”)
Jane Lynch (“Dropping the Soap”)
Lauren Lapkus (“The Earliest Show”)
Kelsey Scott (“Fear the Walking Dead: Passage”)
Mindy Sterling (“secs & EXECS”)
I wish her luck, but I suspect Jane Lynch might sneak in because Mindy Sterling might have her votes split between her roles.

That's not the only nomination for "Fear the Walking Dead: Passage."  It duplicated last year's achievement of “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462” by being nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series.
Short Form Comedy or Drama Series

“Brown Girls” (Open TV)
“Fear The Walking Dead: Passage” (AMC.com)
“Hack Into Broad City” (ComedyCentral.com)
“Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training” (AMC)
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot” (ABCd/ABC.com)
I'd love for it to win, but I suspect the Emmy voters would prefer “Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training,” a companion to "Better Call Saul," which they also like.  Just the same, "Fear the Walking Dead: Passage" and “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462” have again done something neither "The Walking Dead" nor "Fear the Walking Dead" has achieved at the Emmy Awards, be nominated for best series in its category, drama.  Those shows have be satisfied with earning nominations and trophies for Best Horror TV Series at the Saturn Awards.  However, "The Walking Dead" did earn one nomination this year, which I'm recycling from 'Westworld' leads drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13 along with my analysis.
Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or Special

Eryn Krueger Mekash, Michael Mekash, David Leroy Anderson, James Mackinnon, Jason Hamer, Melanie Eichner, Cristina Himiob,  Maiko Chiba (“American Horror Story: Roanoke”)
Nick Dudman, Sarita Allison, Barney Nikolic, Dennis Penkov (“Penny Dreadful” — “No Beast So Fierce”)
Louie Zakarian, Jason Milani, Tom Denier Jr., Amy Tagliamonti, Craig Lindberg, Steve Kelly (“Saturday Night Live” — “Host: Alec Baldwin”)
Greg Nicotero, Jake Garber, Garrett Immel, Kevin Wasner, Gino Crognale, Kerrin Jackson (“The Walking Dead” — “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”)
Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada, Georgia Allen, Gerald Quist, Myriam Arougheti (“Westworld” — “The Original”)
Once again, the field is nearly full of speculative fiction, including the fourth and final nomination for "Penny Dreadful" and the only nomination for "The Walking Dead."  I'm rooting for them along with "Westworld" and "Stranger Things," but it would not be surprising if "Saturday Night Live" wins for turning Alec Baldwin, Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon into members of the Trump White House.
This is one of the same categories for which the show was nominated last year.

That's it for zombies and diversity at this year's Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.  I'l have more on the Emmy nominees next week.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Observing Earth Overshoot Day 2017 two days late


I posted the following story to my Dreamwidth account yesterday.
I gave a lecture on human population yesterday and showed some of the videos I included in A very late celebration of World Population Day. At the end of the lecture, one of my students asked if I did that because it was Earth Overshoot Day. I said no, I would have given that lecture that day no matter what. It turned out to be a happy coincidence. Now I'll have to remember to check for Earth Overshoot Day in the future to observe it at my main blog.
I'm not going to wait until next year.  I'm posting about it today, only two days late (and four days before the anniversary of last year's Earth Overshoot Day) and the day "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" goes into wide release.  Here's the description on the Earth Overshoot Day website.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in 2017:

(Planet’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
Sustainability Illustrated has a video explaining the day and its significance: Earth Overshoot Day 2017 lands on August 2.

In this video, I explain our Ecological Footprint and Earth Overshoot Day with a particular focus on the #movethedate campaign to move back the day of ecological overshoot.
France 24 New English has more, including some encouraging news and advice for a more sustainable future, in Earth Overshoot Day: Humanity to exceed 2017 limit on natural resources, say climate groups.


Much like World Population Day, this is exactly the kind of holiday I should observe here.  Also like that day, it's one I didn't find out about until my seventh year of keeping this blog.  It demonstrates that I still have lots to learn.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Star Wars at the Primetime Emmy Awards


While "Westworld," "Stranger Things" and "The Handmaid's Tale" made news with multiple Emmy nominations for drama series, one science fiction franchise better known for its presence on the big screen was also earning nominations for its work on the small screen and second screen -- "Star Wars."  The small screen nominee was "Star Wars Rebels," which I last blogged about when it won Best Animated TV Series at the 2017 Saturn Awards.  However, it wasn't nominated for Outstanding Animated Program.  Instead, it was the one animated nominee in another category.
Children’s Program

“Girl Meets World” (Disney Channel)
“Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 90th Celebration” (NBC)
“Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas” (HBO)
“School of Rock” (Nickelodeon)
“Star Wars Rebels” (Disney XD)
This is the first Emmy nomination for the series and I'm rooting for it.  However, it is up against the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which I've mentioned several times.  The band geek in me is torn.  That written, I'm not optimistic, as "School of Rock" was nominated last year in this category and "Girl Meets World" has been nominated three years in a row.  I would consider both to be favorites except that they're competing against a Sesame Street special.  All things being equal, the Muppets will probably win.

The second screen nominee is "The Star Wars Show" on YouTube.  It was nominated in a category that has only existed for two years.
Short Form Variety Series

“Behind The Voice”(YouTube)
“The Daily Show – Between the Scenes” (TheDailyShow.com)
“Epic Rap Battles of History” (YouTube)
“Honest Trailers” (YouTube)
“The Star Wars Show” (YouTube)
I am more optimistic about "The Star Wars Show" winning this category than "Star Wars Rebels" winning its.  For starters, only one nominee, "Honest Trailers," is returning.  Second, it has Disney and the power of the Star Wars franchise behind it.

Tangentially related to Star Wars, the late Carrie Fisher was nominated for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance in "Catastrophe" and "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds" was nominated for Directing for a Nonfiction Program and Documentary Filmmaking, where it's competing against "Planet Earth II."

To conclude this entry, I found the most recent instance where the two Star Wars nominees crossed paths, Star Wars Rebels Coming to Celebration Orlando and the Best Star Wars Video Games with Xavier Woods on "The Star Wars Show."

In this installment of The Star Wars Show, we reveal first details on the Star Wars Rebels panel at Celebration Orlando, look at new Celebration droid exclusives from Kotobukiya, chat with WWE's Xavier Woods, visit the Rogue One set for a look at the film's droids, and much more!
May the Force be with the nominees!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lots of politics in nonfiction television at the 2017 Television Critics Awards


I concluded 'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Stranger Things,' and 'The Good Place' lead speculative fiction nominees at Television Critics Association Awards with "I might write about the reality and news and information program nominees later."  I think now fits that criterion, especially as the awards ceremony is this Saturday, August 5th.

At first glance, what I found remarkable about the news and information nominees was the inclusion of political humor shows.  At second glance, the number of political documentaries also struck me.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS AND INFORMATION
“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” TBS (2016 Winner in Category)
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” HBO
“The Lead With Jake Tapper,” CNN
“O.J.: Made in America,” ESPN
“Planet Earth II,” BBC America
“Weiner,” Showtime
While I agree that both "Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" and "Last Week Tonight" are excellent sources of information -- in fact, I called "Last Week Tonight" "the best news program on TV today, even if it is considered entertainment" -- both shows are primarily comedy about the news, not the news itself.  Still, it says a lot about our times that the comedians do a better job of covering important stories than the actual journalists.  Many of today's stories, particularly the political ones, are absurd and deserve nothing better than to be laughed at.

On the other hand, some stories deserve a more serious and longer look than the evening news can give them, so they become the province of documentaries.  Two of them, "O.J.: Made in America" and "Weiner," were also nominated.  The former has been nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards, while the latter probably should have been nominated for at least one.*

Rounding out the field are "Planet Earth II" and "The Lead With Jake Tapper," the only true news program nominated.  The former has ten Primetime Emmy nominations, while the latter couldn't even pick up one at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards; the Emmy voters prefer Anderson Cooper, who earned three nominations there, but that's a story for a future entry.

Speaking of preferences, Samantha Bee, who has six nominations for her regular show and the "Not the White House Correspondents Dinner" special, is the returning winner and favorite, at least for this award.  On the other hand, I expect John Oliver will beat her again at the Primetime Emmy Awards for Talk Variety Series.

Politics also showed up in the next category.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN REALITY PROGRAMMING
“The Circus,” Showtime
“The Great British Baking Show,” PBS
“The Keepers,” Netflix
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” A&E
“Shark Tank,” ABC
“Survivor: Game Changers,” CBS
Three of these stand out as not being standard reality shows.  "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" has two Primetime Emmy nominations for Informational Series or Special and Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program.  It's not a reality show, despite what the television critics think.  Neither is "The Keepers," which has an Emmy nomination for Documentary or Nonfiction Series.  Finally, "The Circus" straddles the line between reality and documentary, as it covered the presidential primaries in more or less real time; I found it both entertaining and informative.

If I thought the critics would vote for a reality show, I would think they would vote for either "The Great British Baking Show" or "Shark Tank."  That's not what I expect.  Instead, I suspect they will vote for either Leah Remini, a story about Hollywood that other people in Hollywood would like, or "The Keepers."  Sorry, "The Circus," just be happy to be nominated.

That's enough of the Television Critics Association Awards for now.  Stay tuned for more about the Emmy nominees.

*I'm biased, as I have been following this story for four years and think it deserves more recognition beyond being a political scandal.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Promoting 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power'


Last December, the news was 'Inconvenient Truth 2' being released next year.  It's now "next year," so the news is How Donald Trump Made ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ 10 Times More Relevant.
[H]ow could his follow-up bulletin of a climate-change doc, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” coming out eleven years later, possibly have a comparable impact? If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have said: It couldn’t. I would have said that Gore’s relevance as a herald of looming environmental disaster had been diminished by his own success. He no longer owned the issue, because we all did. And that would be a good thing!

But when you see “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which played at the Sundance Film Festival in January and opened yesterday, to promisingly huge numbers, in limited release (it goes wider next weekend), the film takes on a radical urgency that even Al Gore probably didn’t plan on. In a way that neither Gore nor the film’s co-directors, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, could have anticipated, “An Inconvenient Sequel” makes the case for climate change as a fundamental political/economic/moral issue of the 21st century in a way that shoves it right through the teeth of Donald Trump’s destructive ignorance.

If Hillary Clinton were now president, the film’s politics would be more or less congruent with that of her administration. Instead, “An Inconvenient Sequel” plays as a bolder statement: a movie that might have been designed to answer the current rollback of environmental policy — and to address America’s backing out of the Paris Climate Accord, since the film documents, with fascinating on-site political detail, how, exactly, that accord was reached in 2016 (complete with participation from Chinese president Xi Jinping and Trump’s BFF Vladimir Putin).

The pulling out of the Accord was, of course, another case of macho semiotics on Trump’s part: “I’m not going to go to your girly-man Euro garden party. Too regulated!” But since the President of the United States is now a captive of magical thinking on the environment (his plan to take America back to the glory days of coal mining makes about as much sense as returning to the gold standard), we are once again in dire need of a crossover documentary that can demonstrate what the stakes are. And “An Inconvenient Sequel” does just that. The force of Trump turns this movie into an impassioned answer to the force of Trump.
Trump even opens the trailer, which I probably should have posted in April, when it came out.

Watch the new trailer for An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. In theatres July 28, 2017.
That's not all for promotion of the documentary.  Al Gore and One Republic, which plays the theme song to the movie, have been busy making the rounds of late night talk shows the past month as well.  Follow over the jump for clips from Stephen Colbert, James Corden, and Seth Meyers.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vox explains the gerrymandering cases before the Supreme Court


While I last mentioned gerrymandering and redistricting in John Oliver and Vox examine gerrymandering, the issue has continued to make news.  The top story on the issue is that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on two lawsuits contesting the gerrymandered districts in North Carolina and Wisconsin.  These cases have different bases, as Vox explains in The difference between racial and partisan gerrymandering.

The Court won't use the same criteria for either case. Here's why.
...
In America, voting districts are redrawn every ten years to account for shifts in demographics. Someone has to be in charge of drawing the new lines. And because voting is left to the states, in many jurisidictions this responsibility is left to partisan politicians. This creates an opening for politicians who might want to alter the outcome of an election through a process called gerrymandering.

But not all gerrymandering is the same. There are, in fact, two types: racial, and partisan. It is much more difficult to prove harm as a plaintiff in a partisan gerrymandering case than a racial one. And that distinction has to do with provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The North Carolina example was egregious enough that Vox used it as an example in one of its earlier videos on the subject, Gerrymandering: How politicians rig elections.

Most Americans think elections are rigged, and they're right. Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein explains how gerrymandering works, and how to fix it.
As I've written before, I support the idea of nonpartisan, independent redistricting commissions to reduce gerrymandering.  As for the Supreme Court cases, I'm much more optimistic about North Carolina's districts being remedied than Wisconsin's, although I'm hoping that the Supreme Court does find that partisan gerrymandering has gone too far.

That's it for this month.  Stay tuned for more about the Emmy nominees. I'm planning several posts on nominated political shows next month, which begins in a few hours.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

More nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards


I thought I was done with Nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards by posting Vox on 'Planet Earth II'.  It turns out I was wrong.  There are five more nominations of shows on these topics, three of them for Outstanding Narrator.  One of these shows is also nominated at the News and Documentary Emmys, "Wild New Zealand."

Welcome to a place of fabled landscapes, a land which time forgot. Welcome to the lost world of New Zealand.
The quote at the beginning supports my prediction that so long as anyone survives who remembers the Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies, New Zealand will be associated with Middle-Earth.  The show's original BBC title, "Earth's Mythical Islands: New Zealand," fits right in with this idea.

As I indicated above, this series, or, rather, Sam Neill, the actor who played the paleontologist Alan Grant in the "Jurassic Park" movies, is nominated for Outstanding Narrator at the Primetime Emmys.  In the News and Documentary Emmys, the show is nominated for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary along with four other nature shows, "David Attenborough's Light on Earth," "Desert Warriors: Lions of the Namib," "Forces of Nature," and "Nature: Super Hummingbirds."  I watched the last one at my mom's house in Utah immediately after I watched the Nova episode " Treasures of the Earth: Power."  It deserves its nomination.  As for "Wild New Zealand," its nominations prove it was well-narrated and well-photographed.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the science and nature shows being featured today.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Vox on 'Planet Earth II'


I wasn't done with "Planet Earth II" in Nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards.  Vox has a wonderful series of articles and videos on the nature series.  Since Vox also has four News and Documentary Emmy nominations, although not for this series, it allows me to use one Emmy nominee covering another Emmy nominee as a transition from the Primetime Emmy Awards to the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

I begin with the first video in the series, How the BBC makes Planet Earth look like a Hollywood movie.

The technology behind the cinematic style of the BBC's Planet Earth II.
The accompanying article expands on the themes.
Now, as the BBC releases its latest blue-chip series, Planet Earth II, cameras are smaller than ever, they can shoot at higher frame rates in lower light, and data storage is essentially unlimited.

But each time a technological development threatens to make their jobs easier, the NHU becomes more ambitious. It’s not enough to show a barn owl hunting a harvest mouse — now they want it from the mouse’s point of view. It’s not enough to get footage of snow leopards, one of the hardest animals on the planet to track down — now they want to spy on them from a foot’s distance with motion-detecting cameras.

The result is that Planet Earth II is the most cinematic wildlife film yet.
Follow over the jump for the rest of the series.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Driving update: two years of Pearl as Tesla begins deliveries of Model 3 today


I celebrated one year of Pearl exactly one year ago today.
Sunday was the first anniversary of buying Pearl the Prius.  Yesterday, Pearl turned over 28,000 miles.  Time for a double celebration!
This year, Monday was the second anniversary of buying Pearl the Prius, which turned over 35,000 miles yesterday, exactly one year to the day after it passed 28,000 miles.  That means that I am still driving my car exactly 7,000 miles per year, so I can repeat what I wrote in Driving update for June 2017: Pearl plus Tesla worth more than GM or Ford.
It turned out that Pearl reached multiples of 1,000 miles on February 17 during both 2016 (25.000 miles) and 2017 (32,000 miles) and on April 13 both years as well (26,000 and 33,000 miles, respectively).  In addition, the car passed milestones on June 3 last year (27,000) and June 2 (34,000) this year.  That means I have been driving 7,000 miles per year very consistently since February 2016.  That's an average of 19.18 miles per day and 583.33 miles per (actual not standard) month.  That's almost double the 4,000 miles per year I drove Yuki before I traded her in and then moved.  It's amazing what moving out of a walkable neighborhood does for one's driving!
It's also amazing how consistent my driving habits have become.

The other year-over-year comparison is miles per day since the previous update.  Last July, I made the following calculation and comparison.
Pearl's odometer last turned over on June 3, 2016, 54 days ago.  That translates to 18.52 miles per day or 564.8 miles per standard month.
This year, Pearl rolled over 34,000 miles on Friday, June 2, so it took 55 days to drive 1,000 miles, or 18.18 miles per day and 554.55 miles per standard month.  That's a little less than I drove her during June and July last year and much less than the 20.00 miles per day and 601.00 miles per standard month I drove Pearl between April and June.  At least those comparisons make it look like I'm driving less, even if I have consistently been driving 7,000 miles per year since February.

As for the next update, to roll over 36,000 miles on Pearl on September 21st, a year to the day after the car passed 29,000 miles, might be a challenge, as I'm working three more weeks during August than I worked last year.  I'd have to walk more and run my errands on the way home from work more to keep my driving down enough to make that happen.  Here's to hoping I succeed.

To conclude this report, I'm following up on the Tesla news I posted in June with this news from CNBC: Tesla Model 3 Deliveries Start July 28.

CNBC's Phil LeBeau reports that deliveries for Tesla's Model 3 will begin July 28th as the automaker kicks off production this week.
Yes, that's today.  CNBC repeated that deliveries begin today in Elon Musk Shows Off The First Tesla Model 3 From Assembly Line.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted two photos of the vehicle to Twitter late on Saturday night.
I'm tempted to post Professor Farnsworth, but I don't want to jinx things.  In the meantime, I plan on posting more about the Emmy Awards tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards


It's time to follow through on my telling my readers at the end of 'Wild Yellowstone: The Frozen Frontier' to "Stay tuned for more about this year's nominees from both the Primetime and News and Documentary Emmy Awards."  In the previous installment on this year's Primetime Emmys, I talked about science fiction.  Today, I'm looking through the Emmy nomination list for science fact, where I found three shows.

The first was "Planet Earth II" with ten nominations.  Before I list them, I'm sharing its official extended trailer.

10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II.

A decade ago, the landmark television series Planet Earth redefined natural history filmmaking, giving us the ultimate portrait of life on Earth. Planet Earth II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, will reveal our planet from a completely new perspective, using significant advances in both filming technology and our understanding of the natural world.

And if you are not excited enough already it features an original score by legendary composer Hans Zimmer.
The series was nominated for its music, but not for its theme song, which is the soundtrack for the trailer.  Instead, composers Jacob Shea and Jasha Klebe were nominated for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) for the first episode, "Islands."  The other nine nominations include Documentary or Nonfiction Series, two nominations for Directing for a Nonfiction Program (Fredi Devas and Elizabeth White), two nominations for Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program (one each for the teams for "Islands" and "Cities," the final episode), two nominations for Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Dave Pearce and Matt Meech), Outstanding Sound Editing For Non Fiction Programming, and Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming.  I'm rooting for it in all categories, although it's competing with "O.J: Made in America" and "13th" in many of them.  The former won an Oscar; the latter was nominated for it.  That's a quality field.

Speaking of quality, two other shows about science and scientists were nominated for Emmys.  Follow over the jump for them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'Wild Yellowstone: The Frozen Frontier' -- last year's Emmy winner for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Long Form


When I concluded Superheroes and 'Riverdale' -- trailers from San Diego Comic Con with the program note that I am planning to post about the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, I realized that I forgot one of last year's winners and that I'm not comfortable writing about this year's nominees until I correct that oversight.  In addition to "Rise of Animals" and "The Last Orangutan Eden," "The Frozen Frontier," an episode of "Wild Yellowstone" on Nat Geo Wild won the News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Long Form.  Here are the clips Nat Geo Wild has of the episode on its YouTube channel, beginning with Top Five Ways To Survive (the winter in Yellowstone).

The Yellowstone winters are unforgiving and the animals that call the park home have a variety of strategies they employ in order to survive.
Yes, those scenes are beautifully shot.  Follow over the jump for three more clips from the episode.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Superheroes and 'Riverdale' -- trailers from San Diego Comic Con


Just after I posted the trailer for "Lucifer" in yesterday's Trailers for 'Stranger Things,' 'Westworld,' 'The Walking Dead,' 'Star Trek: Discovery," and more at San Diego Comic Con, I realized I was heading into someplace I wasn't ready to enter.
If I continue down this path, I'll enter true comic book territory.  Archie and the costumed crimefighters deserve their own post, so readers expecting "Arrow" based on the preview image will have to wait.
I then promised to "post more television traliers tomorrow and the movie trailers after that."  My plans have changed slightly.  If I'm going to post superheroes today, I may as well post the two movie trailers for Marvel and DC movies as well.  First, "Thor: Ragnarok" Official Trailer.


That looks like it will be as much dumb fun at the other "Thor" movies, which means I'll watch it when it gets to cable.  However, it's not the superhero movie I'm anticipating more.  That honor goes to Justice League - Comic-Con Sneak Peek [HD].

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Three things about this trailer.  First, it has plenty of in-universe references, including to Green Lantern (he doesn't exist on Earth in this continuity) and The Penguin.  Second, this movie, unlike "Man of Steel" and "Batman v. Superman," has a sense of humor in the right places; having The Flash around helps.  Third, I thought the villain was Darkseid; no, it's his general Steppenwolf.  All of which give me hope that it will be better than either of its predecessors.  Even so, I still think "Wonder Woman" will be the superhero movie of the year.

Enough of the movies.   Follow over the jump for the superhero TV show trailers.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trailers for 'Stranger Things,' 'Westworld,' 'The Walking Dead,' 'Star Trek: Discovery," and more at San Diego Comic Con


When I wrote "I'll post about fun stuff tomorrow" at the end of WXYZ on the Detroit Riots 50 years later, I wasn't sure what I'd write about.  Then, I saw the following trailer suggested for me on YouTube: Stranger Things | Season 2 Comic Con "Thriller" Trailer [HD] | Netflix.

The first trailer for Stranger Things 2 is here. It’s 1984 and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana are still reeling from the horrors of the demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

Season 2 premieres October 27, 2017.
Oh, boy, "Dragon's Lair," "Thriller," and "Ghostbusters" -- I don't need the Reagan/Bush lawn signs to tell me that it's 1984, specifically, Halloween 1984.*  That written, as soon as I watched it, I told my wife she had to as well.  We both loved it and it made us excited for the series' return.  It also convinced me to make today's post about San Diego Comic Con trailers, something I hadn't done here since 2015.  Follow over the jump for trailers from "Westworld," "The Walking Dead," "Star Trek: Discovery," and more television shows.**

Sunday, July 23, 2017

WXYZ on the Detroit Riots 50 years later


Today is the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Riot of 1967, a day I knew I'd blog about ever since I first mentioned the riot six years ago.  That day has now arrived.*  Since I was not living here at the time (I was a seven-year-old in Los Angeles then), I'll defer to the locals, especially my favorite local news source on YouTube, WXYZ.  I begin with Detroiters revisit drama of 1967 riots through bus tour, which returns to ground zero of the riot and recounts the story of how it began and spread.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Detroit 1967 riots, we take a look at how Detroiters are revisiting the drama of the riots on a historic bus tour through the city.
WXYZ summarized the effects of the unrest in Detroit 1967: The riots by the numbers.


Wow.  All that is the immediate effect of the riots.  Follow over the jump for what happened over the next 50 years.