Thursday, August 31, 2017

CBS News on hunting Pythons in Florida

I know I had promised "a post about the scripted comedies and dramas about politics" at the end of "13th" vs. "O.J.: Made in America" plus other non-fiction political programs nominated at the Primetime Emmy Awards.  That's still going to happen, just not today.*  Instead, I am going to fulfill a promise I made in Hurricane Andrew: Student Sustainability Video Festival 75.**
Hurricane Andrew continues to have effects today, including invasive Burmese Pythons.  I have a video that I show my students about them that I plan on posting here.
Here is the clip, CBS News' Python hunters take on Florida Everglades' snake problem.

An invasion of Burmese python in the Florida Everglades is threatening the area's sprawling ecosystem. South Florida has hired 25 top hunters to capture and kill the snakes. Mark Strassmann gets a firsthand look at how the snake hunters are going high-tech.
I've shown this video to two classes this past summer and plan on showing it to another this fall.  So far, the students have been suitably impressed.

*Maybe as soon as tomorrow, which is only a few hours away.

**I'm wondering what kind of effects from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey will last this long.  If the answer means I'll have to wait another 25 years to find out, I'm not optimistic I'll last that long.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"13th" vs. "O.J.: Made in America" plus other non-fiction political programs nominated at the Primetime Emmy Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for more posts of mine on the best in political television throughout the week" at the end of Part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? When SF novels became best-sellers.  It's time to resume the series that began with Lots of politics in nonfiction television at the 2017 Television Critics Awards and continued with Religion and politics at the 2017 Television Critics Association Awards as 'The Handmaid's Tale' wins two awards and 'Love Has No Labels' and 'Women's March' among 2017 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Commercial with this bit of foreshadowing from Nature and science at the Primetime Emmy Awards.
The other nine nominations [for "Planet Earth II"] 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.
"Bill Nye Saves The World"... earned two nominations for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Reality, or Reality Competition Programming...As for it winning, I don't have much hope.  It's competing for the writing award with "13th."  In the production design, it's competing against "Saturday Night Live," one of the two most nominated shows this season.  Bill Nye and Netflix should just be happy to get the nominations.
Both of the leading nominated political non-fiction shows are about the politics of race relations in America.  They're not alone, as "United Shades of America" along with two shows about the 25th Anniversary of the L.A. Riots and another about the Obamas also appear among the nominees.  Given the racial motivation for the violence in Charlottesville, that remains an important topic.

Follow over the jump for the political nominees in non-fiction television at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? When SF novels became best-sellers

I left off Part I of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? What the critics think with a hypothesis and my plans to test it.
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.
Before 1942, the New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list did not cover book sales outside of the New York City area.  On the other hand, the Publishers Weekly list of best sellers goes back to the 1890s.  Since it does not cover all of the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, I will examine it from 1900 to the present before also examining the New York Times list.

There are some false positives between 1900 and 1942, the first of which is "Mr. Britling Sees It Through" by H. G. Wells from 1917. Despite the author, this is not a science fiction novel.  It's a mainstream story about England during the early years of World War I.  Therefore, the author broke through, but not the genre he helped to create.  Another is "Seven Gothic Tales" by Henrik Ibsen from 1934 and "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis from 1936.  Even though the first doesn't claim to be science fiction at all, I mention this collection of spooky but not especially supernatural short stories because it because it foreshadows the taste for horror fiction that will become important at the same time science fiction breaks through to the mainstream.  The anti-fascist work of Sinclair Lewis is closer to the mark, as it is definitely speculative fiction, but not science fiction.  Even so, it has lessons that apply to the present day.  As Charlottesville's violence points out, it can happen here.

Actual science fiction first appears on the Publishers Weekly list in 1957  when two novels make the annual top ten, "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute.  The first is explicitly a work of science fiction as it uses the effects of not yet invented materials and technologies to help move the plot and poses the science fiction plot premises of "what if," "if only," and "if this goes on."  The second examines the effects of an already existing technology, the atomic bomb, and asks "what if?"  It also examines a post-apocalyptic world, a science fiction staple.  That written, it was not the science fiction elements that made either of them popular.  "Atlas Shrugged" is about Ayn Rand's political philosophy, not Reardon metal, while it was the examination of how the characters reacted to their situation that made "On the Beach" gripping, not the science of nuclear war.  In addition, both authors were established in mainstream literature, Rand for "The Fountainhead" and Shute for a myriad of works including "A Town Like Alice."  So, like Anthony Burgess writing "A Clockwork Orange," Rand and Shute found science fiction a reputable enough genre to write in and readers found the genre respectable and interesting enough to buy, so long as established mainstream writers were producing it.  As a breakthrough of genre authors writing genre fiction finding mainstream acceptance that both Greer and I are talking about, the success of "Atlas Shrugged" and "On the Beach" comes as a false dawn.

The Cold War formed the environment in which both "On the Beach" and "Atlas Shrugged" were written and received, the former explicitly and the latter implicitly, and the contest between the superpowers continued to inspire speculative works that reached the best seller lists during the next decade.  1962 saw both "Seven Days in May" by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II and "Fail Safe" by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler.  The former harkened back to "It Can't Happen Here" as a political cautionary tale while the latter echoed the nuclear war fears of "On the Beach."  Both ask "what if" and wonder what happens "if this goes on," so they are based on science fiction plot ideas.  However, neither is really science fiction, even though the first takes place a decade after it was written and the second settled a lawsuit by the author of "Red Alert," which became the basis for "Dr. Stranglove," which is definitely science fiction; the movie won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1965.  On top of which, both were written by mainstream authors like Burdick, who also wrote "The Ugly American."  The same is true of "The Shoes of the Fisherman" by Morris West from 1963. Again, a false positive.

The same can be said about 1964's "You Only Live Twice" and 1965's "The Man with the Golden Gun," both James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.  While I have said that the Bond movies are science fiction, the Bond novels, at least these two, are not.  Close, but no cigar.  However, that these particular Bond Novels show up on the bestsellers list shows another trend, that of movies prompting book sales.  I might have more to say about that later.

The real breakthrough for speculative fiction happened in 1967, but not for science fiction.  Instead, "Rosemary's Baby" by Ira Levin made horror part of the mainstream, at least as far as the book-buying public was concerned.  Horror, not science fiction or fantasy, eventually becomes the dominant speculative fiction genre on the bestsellers lists in the U.S.

As for science fiction by genre authors, 1969 saw a breakthrough with "The Andromeda Strain" by Michael Crichton.  He may have been a bit too mainstream for the science fiction fans and writers, as they never nominated him for his novels.  However, that didn't stop them from nominating the films and screenplays he co-wrote, as "The Andromeda Strain" was nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation at the 1972 Hugo Awards.  The original "Westworld" movie was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Award for Best Script in 1974, and "Jurassic Park" won the Hugo in 1994.  That makes him genre enough for me.

Speculative fiction skipped 1970, but shows up on both the Publishers Weekly annual list and the New York Times Best Sellers list in 1971 with "The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty, the first speculative fiction novel to appear at number one on the latter list.*  Remember, horror is the dominant speculative fiction genre on the U.S. bestseller lists.  If I count "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach as a fantasy, every year from 1971 on has at least bestselling speculative fiction novel on one or both of the bestsellers lists.  Even if I don't, it becomes every year since 1973 with Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions," at least nominally a science fiction book.  At least according to the book-buying public, science fiction went mainstream between 1969 with "The Andromeda Strain" and 1973 with "Breakfast of Champions."  That's definitely earlier than Greer's "late 1970s" although he could argue he's using a different criterion than I am.

I'll get around to a part III next month, after the Emmy Awards.  Stay tuned for more posts of mine on the best in political television throughout the week.

*I've referenced "The Exorcist" once before in May Pazuzu curse the Sith Jihad.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hurricane Andrew: Student Sustainability Video Festival 75

The final installment of this series for now and the most popular video from a student talk presented during its semester is Hurricane Andrew.*

Hurricane Andrew Effects and real footage

Last Thursday was the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew making landfall in Florida.  Just for that, I'm adding this bonus clip from CBS Miami: Hurricane Andrew: A Look Back 25 Years Later.

Gary Nelson Reports

Hurricane Andrew continues to have effects today, including invasive Burmese Pythons.  I have a video that I show my students about them that I plan on posting here.  In the meantime, stay tuned for part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream', which is already half-written, followed by more on the political nominees at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

*My wife and daughter survived Hurricane Andrew, although they weren't at any serious risk.  They were at Typhoon Lagoon, ironically enough, at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  They had to leave the water park, as the outer bands spawned severe thunderstorms.  My wife was more worried about her flight home.  Lucky for her and my daughter, they was able to fly out with no problem.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Garage sale prank: Student Sustainability Video Festival 74

For entertainment Sunday, I present a video that is entertaining, but has no sustainability value whatsoever: The Garage Sale Prank.

Hidden camera video short I made around '98. We stuck my brother Scott's head in a box and had a garage sale.
My student used this as an attention grabber about the value of garage/yard sales as the "reuse" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle."  It worked.  This was the second most popular talk with a video that semester.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Paper vs. plastic bags: Student Sustainability Video Festival 73

After yesterday's dismal video that made my students and me feel helpless, I offer a video that also depresses viewers but also allows people to do something by making a choice about what they consume: 7 Reasons to Say No to Plastic Bags and Move to Paper Bags.

It's time we started caring for our environment. Lets pledge to carry our own shopping bags. If not at least insist for a paper bag.
"Paper or plastic?"  Reusable.  My wife and I carry our own reusable bags in our cars all the time.

Friday, August 25, 2017

EWaste dumping in Third World: Student Sustainability Video Festival 72

Today I feature a video on shipping EWaste to developing countries for the locals to process them: How the west dump Electronic Waste in Africa and India.

Movie made by Greenpeace showing how e-waste sent as "charity" in reality turns out to be electronic waste.
Remember Commoner's Laws -- there is no away, everything is connected to everything else, and there is no free lunch.  As for nature knows best, this isn't it.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Why recycle: Student Sustainability Video Festival 71

Continuing on from yesterday's El Nino: Student Sustainability Video Festival 70, today's student-found video is about recycling:Why Recycle 101.

why we should reycle n save the world

anyone who wants to use this video for a presentation or other uses may so with my permission
And one of my students did.  Stay tuned for more videos from my students all the way until Monday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

El Nino: Student Sustainability Video Festival 70

I decided to continue posting the videos my students used in their presentations.  Today's episode features El Nino - What is it?

What is El Nino and what does it mean? In this animated video, we explain what El Nino is and how it affects weather around the world.
As I wrote in Green Ninja: Student Sustainability Video Festival 69, posting a student video today means that part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream' will happen next Tuesday.  In the meantime, stay tuned for more videos my students found.

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 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."* 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.

John X Hannes & Smuggler (“Calling – 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
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
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” (
“Hack Into Broad City” (
“Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training” (AMC)
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot” (ABCd/
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” (
“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.
“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.
“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.