Sunday, January 31, 2016

Diversity not a problem at the SAG Awards

Two weeks ago, I groused about Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day.  In particular, I singled out Idris Elba's lack of nominations.
Elba being left out was particularly surprising, as he was nominated for a Golden Globe (he lost to Sylvester Stallone), a BAFTA Award, and three SAG Awards (two for his film perfomance and one for a TV role).  The actors and foreign press were certainly behind him, even if the rest of the voters were not.
Last night, Elba got some of the recognition he was denied at the Oscars by winning two of the three SAG Awards for which he was nominated, Performance by a male actor in a supporting role for "Beasts of No Nation" and Performance by a male actor in a television movie or miniseries for "Luther."  He had earlier won a Critics' Choice Award for the latter role, keeping "Fargo" from completely sweeping the miniseries awards at that ceremony.

TNT posted two videos of Elba accepting his awards.  The first was for "Beasts of No Nation."

The second was for "Luther."

Congratulations, Mr. Elba!

He wasn't alone in making the SAG Awards winners a diverse group.  Follow over the jump for more on how diversity reigned on the television side of the awards.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Plymouth-Canton H.S. marching band at the Rose Parade

I promised that I'd post a video of the Plymouth-Canton (PCEP) marching band at the Rose Parade in Michigan marching bands parade in a new year.  The original time frame was "a couple of weeks."  It's now been more than four, so I'm going to (almost) close out the month the way I opened it, with marching bands parading down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.  Playing the theme from "Back to the Future," here's Plymouth-Canton HS Marching Band at the 2016 Pasadena Rose Parade.

From Canton, Michigan
Plymough-Canton High School Marching Band performing their musical selection at the at the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Friday, January 1st 2016. This band's last rose parade was 43 years ago, in 1973!
The Plymouth-Canton Educational Park is the home of 3 comprehensive high schools - Salem, Canton and Plymouth with an overall student population of over 6500 in grades 9-12. It is the 3rd largest school district in the state of Michigan and the only high school with three schools that feed into each other.
Now, here they are with the rest of the musical performers in Music213's Marching Bands of the 2016 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

Recap of the 20 marching bands that performed in the 127th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.
Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry to conclude January.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Challenger disaster remembered 30 years later

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.  The History Channel looks back in Remembering the Challenger Disaster.

On January 28, 1986, the tenth mission of the space shuttle Challenger ended in tragic disaster. We remember the seven astronauts who lost their lives that day, including Christa McAuliffe, who was chosen by NASA to pioneer its Teacher in Space program.
NASA commemmorated the event, as The Telegraph showed in Astronauts mark Challenger disaster anniversary.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station lead a moment's silence with Nasa to mark 30 years since the Challenger space shuttle exploded upon launch, killing seven.
I mentioned one of my memories of the event in Twentieth anniversary of Northridge earthquake.
When I woke up, Regis and Cathy Lee were not on, as I expected, but news coverage.  I recognized immediately  that this was a bad thing.  The last time I saw news instead of the mid-morning show was when the Challenger exploded.
That was a shocker.  I had overslept and was upset with myself for missing the launch.  Instead, I got to see it over and over again.  The next time anything like that happened after the Northridge Earthquake was when 9-11 happened.  I slept through that, too, but got to see the events over and over again as well.  I still have to tell that story.  Here's to remembering to do so on the 15th anniversary of that disaster this September.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Doomsday Clock remains at 11:57

Last year, I reported that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advanced their Doomsday Clock to 11:57.  Two days ago, they updated their assessment of the closeness of the end of civilization.  The Associated Press has the story in 'Doomsday Clock' Reflects Dangers to World.

Scientists behind a “Doomsday Clock” that measures the likelihood of a global cataclysm say the world is still under grave threat. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced on Tuesday that the minute hand was at three minutes-to-midnight. (Jan. 26)
The good news is that they didn't advance the minute hand.  The bad news is that they didn't set it back, either.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Limbo Kitty dances to $1.65 gas

Limbo Kitty makes his first appearance of the year as regular gas in my old neighborhood drops below the $1.69 of last November, when Michigan had the cheapest gas in the U.S.  Yesterday, the two stations down the street from the corner in my old neighborhood were selling regular for $1.65.  That's eight cents lower than the last time I checked, when the same stations were selling regular for $1.73.

Will it go lower?  At those stations, probably, as Gas Buddy lists the Detroit average as even lower at $1.62, although it is rising from $1.59 a couple of days ago.  So the second question becomes, "will I see that lower price?"  Probably not, so this might be Limbo Kitty's last dance until fall.  Just the same, I shouldn't be too sad, as gas was a dime cheaper than it was the same time last year and twenty-four cents cheaper than a year ago today, making them the cheapest in the history of this blog.

The seasonal gas price rise should start any day now, but it won't be because oil is more expensive.  Follow over the jump for two stories from Reuters and a video from the Wall Street Journal on oil prices.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Michigan Attorney General launches investigation into Flint water crisis

Last week, Congress announces it will hold hearings on the Flint water crisis and two MDEQ employees were suspended for their part in the scandal. The probes continue this week, as WXYZ reported yesterday that Michigan's Attorney General launches investigation into Flint water crisis.

WXYZ has more on the two men that Schuette appointed to lead the investigation in The former head of Detroit FBI among those investigating Flint water crisis.

Based on the credentials of these two, I'm encouraged that justice may actually be done after all. As for Schuette, I stand by what I wrote four years ago.
He's looking forward to replacing Governor Snyder when OneToughNerd retires, either in 2014 (early retirement or defeat) or in 2018 (term limitations), so he needs to be enough of a populist to maintain his electability. Here's to his ambitions making him actually serve the residents of Michigan, at least occasionally.
Yes, I'm being cynical. In this state, that's a survival trait.

Monday, January 25, 2016

'The Big Short' is now the Oscar favorite after winning a Producers Guild Award

"The Big Short" won the equivalent of the Best Picture at Saturday night's Producers Guild Awards, The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures.  Wochit Entertainment has the story in The Big Short Gets Best Picture At Producers Guild Awards.

The Hollywood Awards Season can be a rollercoaster ride. This year, there are two favorites to win Best Picture at the grand finale of awards season, the 88th Academy Awards. Both Spotlight and The Big Short have been critical and fan favorites as 2015's best film. And while general audiences may be more familiar with popular award shows such as the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild and The Golden Globes, dedicated Oscar fans know that smaller industry awards can often predict where industry favor (And logically the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) will fall. So when the Producers Guild gave The Big Short their top prize this weekend, it was a big hint as to how producers in the Academy will be voting. The Big Short was written and directed by the man behind Anchorman, Adam McKay. It takes a darkly comedic look at the events that led up to the 2008 financial crisis.
The Producers Guild Awards may be very obscure, but they are indeed predictive, as FiveThirtyEight points out in their guide to predicting the Oscars.

This race is the most wide open. There are many preceding awards left to go, and the field is large (eight films), which makes it hard to pick a leader. This weekend’s Producers Guild of America awards ceremony should give us a little clarity; the guild’s award for best theatrical picture is the second-most-predictive award we follow for the best picture Oscar.
Whichever film wins at the Producers Guild awards will pick up a quarter of the remaining points and will be guaranteed front-runner status until at least February. After that, the key event to watch will be the Directors Guild of America’s top award. Any film that sweeps those two will be a strong favorite for best picture through the rest of February. If two films split them, we’ll have a serious race on our hands.
Based on its victory this past weekend, "The Big Short" is now in the lead over "Spotlight," which had been in first place because of its Best Picture win at the Critics Choice Awards.  The bettors at PredictWise now have "The Big Short" as the favorite at 43% with "Spotlight" second at 31% and "The Revenant" in third at 19%.  The rest are in the low single digits.  "Spotlight" is no longer the prohibitive favorite; instead, we have a contest!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

R.I.P. David Bowie, sci-fi superstar

When I told my readers to "stay tuned obituary of a science fiction rock star," I had no idea "The Martian" had a David Bowie song.  Here is "Starman" complete with images and clips from the movie.

I found that to be an appropriate tribute to both Bowie and the movie.

For more on David Bowie, science-fiction rock and movie star, I recommend reading two articles from io9, one listing him as one of the great music acts inspired by science fiction and another as a rock star who changed science fiction, showing that the influence went both ways.  Other articles in the same vein were published by Extreme Tech, Engadget, Tech Times, Huffington Post, and CBS affiliate WXRT.  All of them consider him a giant in both rock music and science fiction, as do I.  Farewell, Ziggy Stardust!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Two MDEQ employees suspended over actions in Flint water crisis

Yesterday, I wrote that "I expect more resignations and firings to come" in the wake of the resignations of the MDEQ Director and the regional EPA Director.  It didn't take long at all for that to begin to happen as WXYZ reported two MDEQ workers suspended in Flint water crisis later that same day.

Governor Snyder has suspended two workers at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for their roles in the Flint water crisis.
The Detroit Free Press has more.
Gov. Rick Snyder announced the suspensions of two Department of Environmental Quality officials Friday afternoon, but if the state determines those or other workers need to be fired for mishandling the Flint water crisis, it could take more than a year to make it final.

Snyder said in a news release Friday two DEQ officials are suspended pending an investigation, in accordance with civil service rules. Although state officials wouldn’t reveal the names of the employees, they said they were managers within the Water Quality division of the MDEQ.

They were suspended without pay, although under civil service rules, the unpaid status can only last seven days. The internal investigation into further action against the two employees should take a couple of weeks, said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state’s department of Technology, Management and Budget. After seven days, they’ll go back on the payroll.

Once the investigation is complete, the action taken against the employees can range from getting their job back to getting fired, Weiss said.
So these suspensions may not be the ones to completely satisfy the prediction.  That's OK.  There are more dominoes to fall.

Speaking of falling dominoes, some have already toppled.
At the Department of Environmental Quality, two key employees — Liane Shekter Smith, who was the chief of the DEQ’s Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance and Stephen Busch, a district manager in the drinking water division for MDEQ, whose area of responsibility included Flint — have been reassigned and no longer have any role in dealing with the Flint water crisis. An undetermined number of other employees in the drinking water division no longer have any role in the Flint water response, said Melanie Brown, a spokeswoman for the department.
Consequences may still be coming for high-level people, including the Emergency Manager for Flint at the time of the switch, Darnell Earley.  He can't be fired from that position, but he's currently the Emergency Manager for the Detroit Public Schools, which is currently having its own crisis, which includes environmental issues from poor maintenance of school buildings, resulting in teacher sickouts.  The New York Times has that story and more in Anger in Michigan Over Appointing Emergency Managers.  I recommend my readers read it, too.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Congressional hearings on the Flint water crisis and a resignation

I wrote yesterday that I didn't have much to say about the Flint water crisis until it got national attention.  Has it ever!  Wednesday, President Obama spoke on the issue while visiting the North American International Auto Show.  Yesterday, WXYZ reported on two more responses by the federal government.  First, Congressional hearings to be held in Flint water crisis.

As the caption read to an earlier version of this report, "Governor Rick Snyder will be requested to testify at U.S. Congressional hearings in connection to the Flint Water Crisis, according to the office for U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence."  That suggests to me that this is enough of a problem for national Republicans (thank you Hillary Clinton) that they have decided to do damage control.  Whether this will take the form of trying to save Snyder by making it look like a local problem or throwing him under the bus, I don't know.  I hope it's the latter.*

Speaking of throwing people under the bus, the report above mentioned an EPA regional adminstrator resigning.  Here's the clip from WXYZ on that part of the story: EPA administrator resigns amid Flint water crisis.

An EPA administrator is out of a job, and her agency is cracking down on the response to the Flint water crisis.
She's the second official to resign over the scandal, joining Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant.  I expect more resignations and firings to come.

*But probably not.  Instead, this quote from Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, indicates they have one of the GOP's favorite targets in their sights instead, "The EPA is rife with incompetence and Region 5 is no exception. Mismanagement has plagued the region for far too long and Ms. Hedman’s resignation is way overdue."  The same article reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the EPA as well, so the concern is bipartisan.

As for Snyder, the just thing may be that he should resign, but I don't expect the just thing to happen any time soon.  That would give Michigan Governor Brian Calley as an incumbent in 2018.  Neither Attorney General Bill Schuette nor the more pragmatic Democrats who would run for the office would want that.  Better to campaign against lame duck Snyder for an open seat.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

President Obama visits NAIAS and talks about Flint water crisis

While I've been busy with entertainment news, there are two stories that I've been ignoring, the North American International Auto Show and the Flint water crisis.  In the case of the former, which I'm usually all over every year, the awards shows proved to be shinier objects.  In the case of the latter, I've been watching the story, but just couldn't find much to say until it got national attention, much like the Courser-Gamrat scandal. Yesterday, something happened to finally direct my attention to both: President Obama visited Detroit.

President Barack Obama was in Detroit today to visit the auto show.
PBS has more: Obama tours auto show, pledges help for Flint’s water crisis.
DETROIT — President Barack Obama hailed the revival of the nation’s auto industry on Wednesday while acknowledging the water crisis in nearby Flint, Michigan, saying the detection of high levels of lead serve as a reminder that the government can’t shortchange basic services.

Speaking to auto workers after taking in the North American International Auto Show, Obama said he would be beside himself if his children’s health were put at risk. He said he met with Flint’s mayor the day before and promised federal help.

“I told her we are going to have her back and all the people of Flint’s back as they work their way through this terrible tragedy,” he said.
Obama spoke at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, the national headquarters of the joint relationship between the United Auto Workers and General Motors. His visit took place as longstanding problems with the drinking water in Flint have begun to capture the nation’s attention.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked Obama on Wednesday to reconsider his denial of a federal disaster declaration to address the drinking water crisis, saying its severity poses an “imminent and long-term threat” to residents. Obama declared an emergency — qualifying the city for $5 million — but determined that it is not a disaster based on the legal requirement that such additional relief is intended for natural events, fires, floods or explosions.

In his appeal letter, Snyder called it a “narrow reading” and likened the crisis to a flood, “given that qualities within the water, over a long term, flood and damaged the city’s infrastructure in ways that were not immediately or easily detectable.” He also said the state and city cannot meet all the needs of Flint residents. He again painted a bleak picture of the city and said the “economic injury” from the crisis is significant.
I could see the beginnings of the Flint water crisis in Detroit Regional Water Authority talks in the news, when I wrote about Detroit's contracts with Flint and Genesee County expiring in 2014 so they would stop using Detroit water.  I thought it was premature for Flint to leave the system then, as the new system wouldn't be finshed, but I had no idea the results would be so disastrous.  Sometimes, I'm not pessimistic enough!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

'Mad Max: Fury Road' wins nine Critics' Choice Awards

Speculative fiction nominees did much betterat the Critics' Choice Movie and Television Awards than last year, although the result was the opposite, at least for the movies, than for the Golden Globes, where "The Martian" won two awards.  Sunday night, "Mad Max: Fury Road" was the big winner, while "The Martian" was shut out.  The movie won Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Action Movie, while George Miller won for Best Director, Charlize Theron was named Best Actress In An Action Movie, and Tom Hardy won Best Actor In An Action Movie.  As I wrote on Sunday, "What a lovely day!"

"Mad Max: Fury Road" lost Best Picture to "Spotlight" and Best Science Fiction/Horror Film to "Ex Machina," both of which I expected.  In fact, I wrote "'Ex Machina' might sneak on past ["Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Martian"].  After all, it's the critics voting, not the movie-makers."  In addition, Brie Larson won Best Actress for "Room," which she also won at the Golden Globes.  That's no surprise, either.  Just the same, between the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Awards, it's been a great year for science fiction at the box office, and that's not even counting "Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which had to be added to the Critics' Choice Awards and is finally getting full consideration at the BAFTA Awards and Academy Awards.

Speculative fiction didn't fare as well on the television side, as only Carrie Coon of "The Leftovers" won for Best Actress in a Drama.   Given her competition, that's quite an accomplishment.  Unfortunately, it looks like I jinxed "Face Off."  Instead, "The Voice," which I thought might win last year, got another trophy.  Also, "Fargo" swept the Limited Series/TV Movie category, shutting out "American Horror Story: Hotel."

ETA: "Outlander" won Most Binge-worthy, yet another victory for speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for the acceptance speeches from A&E.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hollywood's diversity issues for MLK Day

The Wrap's predictions for a diverse set of acting nominees this year.  None were nominated.
I concluded Speculative fiction at the Critics' Choice Movie and Television Awards by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for an entertainment-themed Martin Luther King Day entry on the same theme as last year's."  That post lamented "Selma" being relatively snubbed by the Oscar voters, earning only nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song when a lot of critics thought that the film's male lead and director deserved nods as well.  That was still better than this year, as Wochit Entertainment reported in Oscars Still So White?

Oh, no, not again. For many movie fans, Thursday's Oscar nominations brought a dispiriting feeling of deja vu. For the second consecutive year, no minorities were nominated in any of the four acting categories. One year after the critically acclaimed "Selma" was largely snubbed by academy voters, sparking protests, actors and filmmakers of color are again being ignored -- and Twitter is not happy. "It's actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That's it. #OscarsSoWhite," tweeted April Reign, an editor who was credited with launching that hashtag in protest after last year's nominations were announced. Idris Elba had been expected to score a nomination for his performance as an African warlord in "Beasts of No Nation," but he was passed over. Other hopefuls such as "Concussion" star Will Smith, "Creed" star Michael B. Jordan, that movie's writer-director, Ryan Coogler, and the cast of N.W.A biopic "Straight Outta Compton" also were ignored.
Of all the listed actors not nominated, FiveThirtyEight thought the biggest snub belongs to Idris Elba.
One of the biggest upsets of the morning was in the supporting actor category. While Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight”), Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) were all favored by Paddy Power (which set odds for winning an award, not for being nominated), Christian Bale’s nomination for “The Big Short” was totally remote, as of data pulled midnight before the nominations were announced. That means Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”) lost out big. Elba had 6-to-1 odds of winning it all, according to the bookmakers, which gave him the third-likeliest score behind Stallone and Rylance. And although Keaton was a relative long shot to win, at 8-to-1 odds, he was still considered a more probable candidate than Ruffalo, Hardy or Bale.
Elba being left out was particularly surprising, as he was nominated for a Golden Globe (he lost to Sylvester Stallone), a BAFTA Award, and three SAG Awards (two for his film perfomance and one for a TV role).  The actors and foreign press were certainly behind him, even if the rest of the voters were not.  Follow over the jump for why that might be the case.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Speculative fiction at the Critics' Choice Movie and Television Awards

Tonight, A&E hosts the Critics' Choice Awards for both movies and television. I've already written about three of the nominees for the movie awards, "The Big Short," "Spotlight," and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  Now it's time to look at the rest of the nominations, particularly in speculative fiction, which comprises science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

It turns out that the most nominated movie is a work of science fiction, "Mad Max: Fury Road."  From the press release:
“Mad Max: Fury Road” leads this year with 13 nominations including Best Picture, Charlize Theron for both Best Actress and Best Actress In An Action Movie, Tom Hardy for Best Actor In An Action Movie, George Miller for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, Best Action Movie, and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie.
What a lovely day!

How about the rest of the speculative fiction films being honored (bolding mine)?
“Carol,” “The Martian,” and “The Revenant” impressed with nine nominations each, all in the running for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, among others. “Spotlight” earned eight nominations, followed by “The Big Short” with seven, and “The Hateful Eight” with six. “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “The Danish Girl,” “Jurassic World,” and “Sicario” each garnered five nominations and “Room” earned four.

Jennifer Lawrence is up for three awards, for her work in both “Joy” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” while Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are both nominated for two acting awards.
In addition to "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "Jurassic World," and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2," "Ex Machina" has three nominations, while "It Follows" (the sole horror nominee), "Ant-Man," (the sole comic-book movie nominated), and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" each have one.  That's not a bad showing for speculative fiction, especially science fiction, at a movie awards show.

Both "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Martian" might do well, but not exceptionally so, in the mainstream awards, especially for directing, cinematography, editing, production design, and make-up, where they are in stiff competition with mainstream dramas, but it's the categories for genre films where the action (pun fully intended) will be tonight.  With no further ado, I present the nominees and my opinions of their chances, beginning with a mainstream category in which genre films predominate.
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
The Walk
Four of the six nominees are science fiction films.  Of these, I'd root for "Mad Max: Fury Road" except that the really spectacular visuals are the results of stunt work, cinematograpy, and editing, not special effects.  For those, my pick right now is "Jurassic World."  That written, I wouldn't be surprised by any of these films winning, especially "Ex Machina."

Speaking of special effects, it's the subject of an award that has already been decided.
The “Critics’ Choice Genius Award” will be given to ILM in recognition of its 40 years of revolutionary moviemaking that changed entertainment forever. Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams will be on hand to present the honor. For four decades, ILM has set the standard for visual effects, creating some of the most stunning images in the history of film. At the forefront of the digital revolution, ILM continues to break new ground in visual effects. ILM has been awarded 15 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, received 26 Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards, and was presented with the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 2004. Founded in 1975 by George Lucas, ILM is the leading effects facility in the world, serving the motion picture, commercial production and attraction industries. ILM has created visual effects for over 250 feature films, including all seven Star Wars episodes, the Jurassic Park Franchise, the Harry Potter series, the Indiana Jones films, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Iron Man, Transformers, and The Martian.
Well deserved and it will make up for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" not getting any awards (trust me, it won't win Best Movie and it didn't get nominated for any other categories).
Furious 7
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
My favorite is "Mad Max: Fury Road" over "Jurassic World"--the former is both more clearly an action movie and a better film overall, but I would be disappointed if not surprised should the critics pick "Sicario," which is probably the best drama of the bunch.  As for "Furious 7," it may be all action, but it's mindless action, unlike "Mad Max: Fury Road," where the violence has intelligence behind it.  It should be happy with its People's Choice Award.
Daniel Craig – Spectre
Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Tom Hardy – Mad Max: Fury Road
Chris Pratt – Jurassic World
Paul Rudd – Ant-Man
Normally, I'd be rooting for Daniel Craig, but "SPECTRE" was a disappointment.  Instead, I'm hoping that Chris Pratt wins.  Tom Hardy is probably the better actor, but he wasn't even the star of his own movie; Charlize Theron was.  Speaking of whom...
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
Charlize's only serious competition is likely to be Emily Blunt.  Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress, but the material in "The Hunger Games" series does not lend itself to outstanding performances.  On the other hand, she might repeat her Golden Globes win for her performance in "Joy" as a comedic actress.
Ex Machina
It Follows
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Of this lot, it's a tight competition between "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Martian," although "Ex Machina" might sneak on past.  After all, it's the critics voting, not the movie-makers.  As for the field, I'd substitute "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" for "It Follows."  The latter is probably the best horror movie of the year, but it's not as good as the rest.

That completes my comments on the movies, but like the Golden Globes, I've been neglecting the TV shows.  Follow over the jump for those.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Al Jazeera America shutting down as oil subsidy dries up

Three years ago, I was asking Will Al Jazeera America hire Keith Olbermann?  (The answer was no.)  A few months after that, I announced that Al Jazeera America was premiering that day.  The next year, the cable channel contacted me as a source for a story.  I enjoyed that.

Now, I have sad news to report via USA Today: Al Jazeera America to shut down.
Al Jazeera America, the American cable news outlet owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, plans to shut down less than three years after its much-ballyhooed launch, unable to overcome low ratings, operational problems and a lack of advertisers.

The cable news network will be phased out by April 30, according to a memo that was emailed to staffers Wednesday. "As many as 700 staff members" could lose their jobs, CNN reported, citing unnamed sources. Al Jazeera couldn't be immediately reached to verify the number of people affected by the move. The NewsGuild of New York, the union that began representing 46 digital journalists at Al Jazeera America last year, says it was told by the company that it has a total of 291 employees.

Al Jazeera Media Network, which is funded by the government of Qatar, launched the U.S.-based network in August, 2013 after buying Current TV, the cable news channel co-founded by Al Gore, for about $500 million earlier in the year.

The decision to go out of business was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” AJAM CEO Al Anstey was quoted as saying in an AJAM report.
TomoNews US includes their snarky speculation about what made their business model unsustainable in Al Jazeera America shutting down: AJ pulls the plug on U.S. operations as oil prices plunge.

Many are speculating that plunging oil prices ultimately led to the channel's demise as Al Jazeera is owned by energy-rich Qatar.

It didn't help that no one was watching, with prime-time ratings sometimes struggling to exceed 30,000 viewers.
Looks like oil falling to 12-year lows dragged more than stocks down with it.  I'm sorry to read this, as I appreciated Al Jazeera's investigative reporting and presentation without sensationalism.  In that, I'll echo what Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey wrote in an email to his employees: "I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled."

Friday, January 15, 2016

The songs really are the best part of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

In Music for moving pictures at the 58th Grammy Awards, I opined about "Fifty Shades Of Grey" that "I suspect the music is the best thing about the movie, a point I'll return to later."  The awards shows have borne out the truth of my observation, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes 'Fifty Shades of Grey' going for Oscar and Razzie gold.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" has something none of this year's other Oscar-nominated films has: A Razzie nomination.

The film, which earned an Oscar-nom for Best Song (The Weeknd's "Earned It"), is up for six 2016 Razzie Awards, which [are for] the year's worst in film.
How bad is "Fifty Shades of Grey"?  I'll let Wochit Entertainment explain in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Leads 2016 Razzie Award Nominations.

To the surprise of no one, Fifty Shades of Grey is amongst the four most nominated movies at this year’s Razzie Awards. The Razzies, which celebrate the year’s worst Hollywood movies and actors by awarding the winners (i.e. the losers) with Golden Raspberries, have awards for Worst Picture, Worst Actress and Worst Actor. And this year, it’s a four-way tie between Fifty Shades, Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, Jupiter Ascending and Pixels leading the nominations with six nods each.
Entertainment Weekly details the damage, reporting that "The erotic drama scored nods for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Jamie Dornan), Worst Actress (Dakota Johnson), Worst Director (Sam Taylor-Johnson), Worst Screen Combo (Dornan and Johnson together), and Worst Screenplay."  Ouch.  Fair or not,* it really does look like the music, particularly the songs, were the best thing about the movie.

Speaking of which, follow over the jump for the rest of the nominated songs and how my predictions of the nominees fared against reality.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Oil falls to 12-year lows, dragging stocks down with it

I bragged about a forecast that came true in Michigan has the cheapest gas in the U.S.
I opened Regular falls below $2.00 in metro Detroit before Thanksgiving as predicted by forecasting that gas would fall to $1.75 by Christmas, either as the average price in my old neighborhood as as the Detroit average from GasBuddy.  The first happened this weekend as the price in my old neighborhood was $1.69 at all three stations on Tuesday.  The second nearly happened, as the average was $1.79 Tuesday morning and is $1.78 now.  I'll claim credit for being right 23 days early.
I ended with a weak prediction that "Limbo Kitty might be getting quite a workout this winter."  So far, that hasn't happened, at least for gasoline, as the cheapest I've seen the stations in my old neighborhood since was $1.73 on Tuesday when I filled up Pearl, and the Detroit average never quite hit $1.75.  Oil prices, however, have been another story, as Reuters reported yesterday morning in Oil's slide below $30 sends shockwaves far and wide.
U.S. oil stumbled below $30 for the first time in 12 years to levels that threaten the survival of many U.S. shale firms, spur more belt-tightening by oil majors and spell more pain for crude-producing nations and regions.

A seven-day losing streak fueled by concerns about a continued supply glut and fragile demand from China, the world's No. 2 consumer, wiped out almost a fifth of crude prices this year and 70 percent since mid-2014.

Traders have all but given up attempting to predict where the new-year rout will end, with momentum-driven dealing and overwhelmingly bearish sentiment engulfing the market. Some analysts warned of $20 a barrel; Standard Chartered said fund selling may not relent until it reaches $10.
$10-$20 oil?  That's the range in which the investment strategy of Mike Alexander's that I mocked in the footnote to Two years on, the stock markets are still setting records will work.
In 2003, he thought oil would return to 1998 levels within a decade and devised an investment scheme based on that prediction.  I told him that would never happen and that he shouldn't include that in his next book.  His response was that it only had to work once.  I told it would only work once if he was lucky.  After a dozen years, I'm still right; oil prices never dropped that low again.
It might just happen in the next year.  If so, I can still say I was right.*

Enough bragging.  How low did oil go on Tuesday?
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) benchmark briefly touched a low of $29.93, which was last seen in December 2003.
Yowza!  I never thought I'd see prices that low again, not unless the U.S. was in a deep recession, which were aren't--yet.

What about Wednesday?  Follow over the jump for yesterday's closes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

'The Hateful Eight' and 'Spectre' win music awards at the Golden Globes

I've been teasing an entry about the music nominees at the Golden Globes since Music for moving pictures at the 58th Grammy Awards.  I put it off in Drinks for People's Choice movie winners and then promised it again at the end of 'The Martian' wins two Golden Globes.  It's time to follow through.

First, the nominees:
Best original song
"One Kind of Love," "Love & Mercy"
"Simple Song #3," "Youth"
"See You Again," "Furious 7"
"Love Me Like You Do," "50 Shades of Grey"
"Writing's on the Wall," "Spectre"
Best original score — motion picture

“The Danish Girl”
“The Revenant”
Ennio Morricone, “The Hateful Eight”
“Steve Jobs”
At least this year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did not nominate a song from the Hunger Games movies, as they had the past three years.  I guess the combination of "Fifty Shades Of Grey," "Furious 7," and another James Bond movie were enough to crowd another nominee out.  Good, as I found most of those songs to be inferior compared to the competition.  Also, this is the first look at which scores might contend for the Oscar.

Enough about the nominees.  The winners are...

Sam Smith Wins Best Original Song for "Writings On The Wall" | Golden Globe 2016

That was brief.  I think that's the only clip in which the winners didn't have to be told to hurry up.

Quentin Tarantino took longer when he accepted the award for Ennio Morricone Winning Best Original Score at the 2016 Golden Globes.

The Hateful Eight director Quentin Tarantino accepts the award for Best Original Score at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Ennio Morricone and Quentin Tarantino--that's almost too perfect a match, especially for Tarantino's take on a spaghetti Western.

Follow over the jump for music nominations from Critics' Choice and BAFTA awards as well as a look back at the Grammys along with what I think they portend for the Oscar nominees.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

'The Martian' wins two Golden Globes

It's time to follow up on the winners in science fiction, fantasy, and horror at the Golden Globes.  First, "The Martian" won two of the three categories in which it was nominated, Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical, and Best Actor, Comedy or Musical.  When I wrote "Based on possible vote splitting and influence of box office, I expect Matt Damon to be the favorite," I was both right and lucky.  Here's NBC's clip of Ridley Scott accepting the award for "Best Picture, Comedy.

Director Ridley Scott accepts the award for Best Motion Picture, Comedy at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.
You can see why the Golden Globes are called "the drinky Oscars" in Scott's speech.

Next, Matt Damon accepts his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy.

Matt Damon accepts the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Damon was a lot more composed than Scott.  I think it's because he knew his kids would be watching.

Those were the winners I felt I called.  Follow over the jump for one that I missed completely.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Drinks for People's Choice movie winners

I'm going to take a rain check on the music entry I promised for Sunday in the footnote to Science fiction, fantasy, and horror at the Golden Globes.  I'll get to the music winners for the Golden Globes in a future post in reference to the nominees at the Critics' Choice and BAFTA awards.  Instead, I'm going to salute a couple of winners at last week's People's Choice Awards with drinks in their honor from Tipsy Bartender.

The first winning movie is "Furious 7," which won for Favorite Film and Favorite Action Film.
Favorite Movie

Furious 7 *** WINNER
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Inside Out
Jurassic World
Pitch Perfect 2
Favorite Action Movie

Furious 7 *** WINNER
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Divergent Series: Insurgent
Jurassic World
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
I'd have been rooting for "Jurassic World" in both categories.  After all, it was the opening weekend leader until "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" took over.  Also, I already posted drink recipes for it along with drinks for "Avengers: Age of Ultron."  I also posted entries about "Insurgent" and "The Scorch Trials," making "Furious 7" the only action movie nominee I did not write about--until now.  It looks like being the one non-science-fiction nominee in a field full of them made it stand out.  At least "The Martian" won for Favorite Dramatic Movie over "The Age of Adaline," "Fifty Shades of Grey," "The Longest Ride," and "Straight Outta Compton."  That's a case where being the sole science fiction movie ("Age of Adeline" is a fantasy) helped it stand out.

Enough of my opinions about the nominees and winners.  Here's Skyy and Inna with the drink for the movie, The Fast and Furious Cocktail - Tipsy Bartender.

A glow in the dark cocktail based on the hit movie....THE FAST AND FURIOUS 7.
1 oz. (30ml) Rum
1 oz. (30ml) Coconut Rum
1 oz. (30ml) Apple Pucker
1 oz. (30ml) Blue Curacao
1 oz. (30ml) Lemon Lime Soda
Soda Water
Glow in the dark ice cubes:
Follow over the jump for the second movie, "Minions."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

YouTube Rewinds 2015

I've posted YouTube's year-end rewind videos the past three years, so for the first of today's Entertainment Sunday entries, I'm posting YouTube Rewind: Now Watch Me 2015 | #YouTubeRewind.

YouTube Rewind 2015. Celebrating the videos, people, music and moves that made 2015. #YouTubeRewind
I should have done that a month ago.  Better late than never.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Cloning endangered animals: Student sustainability video festival 52

I usually mention using biotechnology to restore biodiversity in the context of de-extinction.  However, it can also be used to build the populations of still-existing species, as Endangered Animal Cloning explains.

Scientists at a Brazil zoo have began cloning 8 wild animals in an attempt to save them from extinction

- Brazil will be the 3rd country, along with the US and South Korea, working on the cloning of wild animals.
- The science of cloning has come a long way since the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in Edinburgh in 1996. Dolly was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
- The 8 species the Brasilia Zoo will attempt to clone include the maned wolf, brush dog, grey brocket deer, bison, jaguar, black lion tamarin monkey, Collared Anteater, and the Brazilian Aardvark.
-2 years has been spent gathering 420 genetic samples of these animals from dead animals found in the outback of Brazil.
- All these samples are necessary for a process that has a 5-7% average success rate.
- Researchers at the Brasilia Zoo have previously produced over 100 living clones of cows and horses but the process for wild animals is different and the next stage is to get those researchers trained.
- That training will take place while the group waits for legal approval to begin the cloning process.
- Carlos Frederico Martins, one of the head researchers, would not say how long it could take to produce the first clone but he did say it would likely be a maned wolf.
- If they are successful in cloning a jaguar they will be the first ones to clone a big cat. With only about 15,000 jaguars it would be a welcome relief.
- Though, the zoo has said that they would only release the cloned animals into the wild if the species was nearing total extinction.

The two popular questions surrounding this story are, what animals should and shouldn't be cloned AND how else can cloning benefit our society?
With this installment, I'm done with videos from this summer's student presentations.  The next series of these will include videos from the fall semester just completed.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Overpopulation: Student sustainability video festival 51

My students often repeat the same topics.  Today, it's overpopulation.  I present Overpopulation: A Growing Problem (Infographic).

This infographic was created for my final project (motion graphics 2) at the Art Institute of Colorado. This video reveals an issue which is too commonly overlooked; overpopulation. Video was created for educational purposes.

Music: Clubbed To Death [Kurayamino Variation]
(All music belongs to their respective owners)

Voice over/ animation/ script by Eric Schoniger.
Stay tuned for one more video from this summer's class.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Science fiction, fantasy, and horror at the Golden Globes

I've talked about "The Big Short" and "Spotlight" at the Golden Globes, but I haven't focused on nominees in this blog's primary entertainment specialty, science fiction, fantasy, and horror yet.*  It turns out I've already covered most of them.  First, "The Martian."
Despite the inherent tragedy of the housing crisis, "The Big Short" is considered a comedy and the Golden Globes, which recognizes comedies as a separate category from dramas in their movie awards, have treated it accordingly.  The Variety listed it among the Golden Globes nominees for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical along with "Joy," "Spy," "The Martian," and "Trainwreck."  In addition, Christian Bale and Steve Carell were nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.  They're competing against Matt Damon for “The Martian,” Al Pacino for “Danny Collins,” and Mark Ruffalo for “Infinitely Polar Bear.”  Based on possible vote splitting and influence of box office, I expect Matt Damon to be the favorite.
Next, "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"Spotlight" was nominated for Best Dramatic Film at the Golden Globes.  The good news is that it's not competing with "The Big Short," which is a nominee for Best Comedy Film.  The bad news is that it is contending for the award against the movies in the graphic, "Carol," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Room," and "The Revanent," although that's bad news for the other films, particularly "Mad Max: Fury Road," for reasons I'll explain later.  At least the two science fiction films nominated at the Golden Globes won't have to compete against each other, as "The Martian" is considered a comedy.

In other categories, Tom McCarthy of "Spotlight" was nominated for Best Director against Todd Haynes for “Carol,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “The Revenant,” George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and Ridley Scott for “The Martian.”  In this category, the two critically acclaimed sci-fi films are competing directly against each other.
The only science fiction nomination I missed was the Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination for Alicia Vikander in "Ex Machina."  She's competing against Jane Fonda in "Youth," Jennifer Jason Leigh in "The Hateful Eight," Helen Mirren in "Trumbo," and Kate Winslet in "Steve Jobs."  Among them, I'd pick Helen Mirren, but that's just a guess based on reputation.  All of them are fine actresses who deserve their nominations.

It turns out the nominations I really need to look at are in television.  Follow over the jump for those.

Trailer Tails: Student sustainability video festival 50

Moving from recycling to fuel efficiency, here are two videos from one of the other popular talks this summer, which was about trailer tails.  First, some facts from AeroTrailers: TrailerTail: Good for America.

ATDynamics, Inc. and its fleet customers have redefined the shape of the world's most fuel efficient tractor-trailers. ATDynamics trailer aerodynamics technology is reducing the fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions of leading North American trucking fleets by 12%. The company's TrailerTail® rear-drag aerodynamics technology alone will deliver over $20 billion in fuel savings to trucking companies and consumers over the next decade by streamlining the airflow at the back of 2 million long-haul semi-trailers pulled on US and international highways.

ATDynamics founders, employees, and investors are dedicated to delivering immediate environmental, economic and social benefits. Over the next five years, TrailerTail® technology is projected to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as the US electric vehicle industry.
Next, the physics involved from STEMCO - Aerodynamics 101.

Reduce drag, improve fuel efficiency and increase safety with TrailerTail® by STEMCO.
I'm fond of saying "the most fuel-efficient vehicle is a moving van."  Here's to making the moving vans more fuel-efficient, too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Making styrofoam: Student sustainability video festival 49

Continuing with the theme of recycling, I present G Word- How Styrofoam is Made.

Watch as Waste Sleuth, Todd Sutton tours Foam Fabricators to discover how Styrofoam is made.
Yes, there is recycling going on, although it's all pre-consumer.  However, the process would likely resemble post-consumer recycling, which looks like this:

Stay tuned for more videos from student presentations.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Recycling paper and cardboard: Student sustainability video festival 48

Continuing with the videos my students showed as part of their presentations, I present Paper & Cardboard Recycling.

That video might need another graphic to help explain what's going on.

There, that should do it.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Self-driving cars--fantasy and reality: Student sustainability video festival 47

I promised to resume the Student sustainability video festival with an entertainment-related episode at the conclusion of "Test Tube and DNews on burning trash for energy."  With no further ado, here are the videos from the most popular student talk of last summer, beginning with Automated cars from Minority Report.

Autonomous self-driving cars: driverless, automated vehicles with rotating passenger compartments from the movie Minority Report.
So far, that's just science fiction.  Here's the reality: Personal transport pods unveiled at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Airport has begun to transport passengers in computer controlled, driverless, car-sized personal "pods".
They're not the cars from "Minority Report," but they're cool none the less.  As my friend Nebris is fond of saying, sci-fi is now.

Stay tuned for more installments of this series.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Musical balance in The Force

I know I promised "the resumption of the student sustainability video festival with an entertainment-related episode 47."  That's still happening at midnight Eastern Time, which is close enough to count as Entertainment Sunday, especially in the time zones west of Detroit.  First, I'm sharing two examples of Star Wars music in which both the light and dark sides appear.  First, Star Wars Medley (Violin Cover) - Taylor Davis.

If nothing else, Episode I has an iconic piece of music in "Duel of the Fates."

Next, Ramona HS Dynasty Band & Color Guard - Disney California Adventure - December 2015.

Ramona High School Dynasty Band & Color Guard performing their musical selection inside Disney California Adventure on Friday, December 18th 2015.
The music may be all light side, but the banner is flanked by light sabers with the colors of the Dark Side on the viewers' left and the Light Side on the viewers' right.

Enough silliness.  On to Episode 47 of student sustainability video festival!

'Spotlight' gets the recognition it deserves from the awards shows

Kunstler opened Shining a Light with a summary of the movie "Spotlight."
The just-released movie Spotlight is about a Boston Globe investigative reporting team circa 2001-02 that uncovered and documented a vast network of child sex abuse by priests in the Catholic Church that had been on-going for decades. More to the point, Spotlight revealed the institutional rot at the very top of the Boston Catholic Church hierarchy, led by then-Cardinal Bernard Law — which marinated church personnel in a code of secret atrocious behavior enabled by systematic lying and deception. In effect, the church gave permission to its foot-soldiers, the parish priests, to engage in whatever sexual antics they wished to, with a tacit promise to shield them from the reach of the courts. The civil authorities of Boston, heavily Catholic due to Boston’s demographics, assisted the church by throwing up every legal obstacle they could to deter the victims and their advocates in the search for justice — and to put an end to the predation of children by priests.

That was the story that Spotlight told, and it did that very economically, without grandstanding.
That's about as positive a passage as Kunstler is likely to produce in response to any part of modern culture.  Of course it wouldn't last, as he used that to springboard into a diatribe against the current state of journalism.  That and my reaction to it, might be subjects for another time.  Since it's Entertainment Sunday, I'm concentrating on my comment on the movie itself.
As for our host's musings on "Spotlight," a Wall Street Journal critic ended his review of the James Bond flick "SPECTRE" by praising "Spotlight," saying it was a much better movie.  That didn't stop "SPECTRE" from becoming number one at the U.S. box office, staying there until "The Hunger Games" Mockingjay-Part 2" dethroned it.  Oh, well, no accounting for the taste of the movie-going public.  Maybe the voters for the awards shows will give "Spotlight" its due.
So far, they have.  Follow over the jump for the nominations the film has received so far.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Test Tube and DNews on burning trash for energy

I concluded last night's "Theme for January 2015: Balance" with a programming note.
I have something else planned for the first two weeks as I pursue my own version of work-life balance.  It's something I would normally have done around the Winter Solstice if I hadn't been all Star Wars all the time then.  Time for some balance in The Force.
What I would normally have done was post more of the videos from the talks students voted as their favorites, as I promised at the end of Trash to energy: Student sustainability video festival 46.   I'll get to that, but first I wish to revisit the idea with Test Tube News' Why Is Sweden Buying Trash From Other Countries?

Due to overpopulation, trash levels are rising, forcing nations to create new solutions. So what are countries doing with their waste?
That video does a good job of explaining my objections to this practice.  So does DNews' Why Don't We Burn Our Trash?

Sweden is able to recycle 99% of their trash, some of which they burn. Why isn't this practiced in the United States?
The drawbacks are why I was slightly disheartened when trash to energy became so popular that it was the most read post for September 2015 with 319 page views (420 according to the raw counter) thanks to first Infidel 753 and then Boat Bits linking to it.  Still, it works as a stopgap.

Stay tuned for Entertainment Sunday, which should include both an entry about the Golden Globes nominees and the resumption of the Student sustainability video festival with an entertainment-related episode 47.

Theme for January 2015: Balance

There is no more NaBloPoMo except in November, but there is still a BlogHer Writing Lab complete with themes.  So what's January's theme from the email?
January's Writing Lab Theme: BALANCE!

Balance. Do you have it in your life, or do you find that you give certain aspects of your day more than their fair share of time?

If you're struggling to keep balance in your life, this month's BlogHer Writing Lab theme will help you think about how you can use the beginning of the year to change the way you're living life.

Maybe you need to get a better balance between your online and offline time, set some boundaries between work and home, or simply give yourself permission to have a few guilty pleasures along with all the have-to-dos.

Or maybe you just need to kickstart your blog again. You can take or leave the monthly theme, and jump into writing challenges and thought questions.

The point is to get you writing: on your blog, on social media, in a book... anywhere you want to set down words. So let's get started with the January Theme.
Follow over the jump for the blurb from BlogHer's website.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Michigan marching bands parade in a new year

As the sign says, Happy New Year!  To usher in 2016, I'm returning to something that I mentioned at the end of Walled Lake Central Marching Band in Macy's Parade.
Plymouth-Canton's band has their own televised holiday event to look forward to; they're marching in the 2016 Rose Parade.  This is a good year for Michigan's top high school marching bands.
Here's the story from Hometown Life: PC marching band ready for Rose Bowl parade.
Plymouth-Canton Marching Band members – approximately 176 of them – and families had bumpy flights Sunday, but arrived in California to sun and warmer weather as they prepare to perform in the Tournament of Roses Parade Friday.
Band and booster members and parents have fundraised since the award-winning band was invited to perform in the Tournament of Roses Parade earlier this year. In the end, about $100,000 was raised to help defray the approximate $500,000 cost of sending the band, the members and equipment to Pasadena. The equipment was hauled by truck to Pasadena.

When the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade begins at 8 a.m., (west coast time) New Year’s Day, the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band will be in the 34th place in the procession. Band members are gearing up for the five-mile parade.
After their arrival in California Sunday, the band practiced and then were off to see the sights, including the Santa Monica Pier. “The kids are in good spirits,” [Chris] Zygmunt [president of the marching band boosters club] said.

On Wednesday, the marching band participated in a competitive band festival. The plan is also to perform at Disneyland.

The Tournament of Roses Parade this year sports the theme “Find Your Adventure.” So the band will perform the theme of the Back to the Future film, just as the parade makes a turn and heads toward the TV cameras. Back to the Future will also be in the band’s performance at Disneyland. But it will perform its 2015 show, “E.X.O.,” described as a musical journey into alien worlds, during the band festival.
Before I share video of the band festival, I'm sharing this clip of their performance at the Macy's Parade four years ago: Plymouth Canton Educational Park Marching Band Macy's Parade 2011.

I should be a good environmentalist and recycle that for Christmas! Now, Plymouth-Canton HS Marching Band at the 2016 Pasadena Bandfest

Plymouth-Canton High School Marching Band performing their musical selections at the 36th Annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Bandfest on Wednesday, December 30th 2015.
I'll post a video of the band at the Rose Parade proper in a couple of weeks. Should their Disneyland performance become available by then, I'll post it, too.

Follow over the jump for more Michigan marching bands in parades.