Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My three favorite Israeli actresses for Purim 2018 (5778)

Happy Purim!  I promised my readers a celebration of Purim to round out February and I'll deliver, unlike last year.
I know I hinted twice that I would celebrate Purim on this blog, I've decided to skip it this year because today marks the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima triple disaster.  That is an occasion much more on topic for the blog's themes, so today I observe an anniversary of DOOM instead of joy.*
*No, I won't observe it tomorrow, as that is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.  I'll save it for next year, when it falls on the evening of February 28th -- perfect timing!
The holiday begins at sunset and even then, I knew I'd make this post at 7:00 P.M. E.S.T., just after local sunset at 6:22 P.M. E.S.T.
Nothing like the predictive power of science -- and a good calendar.

While there is a serious purpose behind Purim, celebrating Queen Esther saving the Jews from Haman's plot to destroy them, it is a joyous holiday with eating, drinking, costumes, and noisemaking.  In that spirit and because I'm in a Hollywood mood as much as a holiday one, I'm celebrating Purim by recognizing three Israeli actresses who give their fans joy while wearing costumes and pretending to be someone else.  Follow over the jump for them.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Game of Thrones,' and 'American Horror Story' all winners at Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the winners of the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards" in the conclusion of My Saturn Award television submissions for 2017-2018.  It's time to follow through with the speculative fiction winners from Deadline.

"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" was nominated for two awards, Feature Film: Best Contemporary Hair Styling and Feature Film: Best Special Make-up Effects.  I didn't think it would win either of them, but it beat "Wonder" for Best Contemporary Hair Styling.  Congratulations!  I thought it would lose to "Darkest Hour" for Best Special Make-up Effects and it did.  "Darkest Hour" also won Feature Film: Best Period and/or Character Make-up, which I expected, but lost Feature Film: Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling to "I, Tonya," the upset I thought was most likely to happen in this category.

As for "Wonder," it was shut out, losing to "Pitch Perfect 3" for Feature Film: Best Contemporary Make-up as well as losing to "Darkest Hour" for Feature Film: Best Special Make-up Effects.  As I wrote about the nominees, "Whichever one wins has the advantage at the Oscars."  Deadline agrees.
When it comes to the Oscar for Best Make-up and Hair, Gary Oldman’s transformation into Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour is favored to win — and it lines up with last year’s results. Suicide Squad won the MUAHS award for Best Period and/or Character Make-up last year — the same honor Darkest Hour won tonight — and then went on to win the Oscar. History may repeat itself.

"Game of Thrones" came into the awards ceremony with three nominations, Television or New Media: Best Period and/or Character Make-up, Television or New Media: Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling, and Television or New Media: Best Special Make-up Effects.  I thought it would sweep all three.  I was wrong, as it lost Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling to "The Crown."  I thought it might lose to "GLOW" or SNL, but didn't consider "The Crown."  Oops.  I should have known Queen Elizabeth II would win in a year that Winston Churchill did, too.  Still, "Game of Thrones won the other two categories, so two out of three isn't bad.

The most nominated show of all was "American Horror Story: Cult" with six nominations, four for the show itself and two for its commercial campaign.  I was not optimistic about its chances against "Big Little Lies" and "Feud: Bette and Joan" and I was right.  It lost to "Big Little Lies" in both Contemporary Make-up and Contemporary Hair Styling and to "Feud" in Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling.  It did win Best Special Make-up Effects in the miniseries/TV movie category.  I didn't make a prediction other than the category looking good for genre productions and it was.

I did say that "American Horror Story: Cult" was favored in the commercial categories, but paid more attention to the Katy Perry video for "Swish Swish."  Well, the promotional campaign for the miniseries won both commercial categories, giving the horror franchise a total of three trophies, making it the biggest winner of the night.

The final speculative fiction winner was the superhero show "Henry Danger," which won both Make-up and Hair Styling awards for Children's Television.  I didn't think it would win, as I was rooting for "Just Add Magic," but expected "Anne with an E" and "An American Girl Story" to win their categories.  In retrospect, I am glad I was wrong.  The image above shows that their hair does look good.

I conclude with some bragging.  I expected that "Dancing with the Stars" would win its categories, Contemporary Make-up and Contemporary Hair Styling for Television and New Media Series, and it did.  I thought "Feud: Bette and Joan" would be one of the favorites for Best Period and/or Character Make-up and it won, too.  Added with the rest of my successful prediction and that's fourteen correct calls.  Add a half for saying that "I, Tonya" could upset "Darkest Hour" and that's 14.5 out of 19 categories I reviewed.  I'm happy with that.

Stay tuned for a celebration of Purim to round out February.

Monday, February 26, 2018

My Saturn Award television submissions for 2017-2018

I admitted that the list of suggested TV shows for the Hugo Award recognizing Dramatic Presentation, Short Form in 'Get Out,' 'Logan,' and 'The Shape of Water' among nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation was an attempt to work the refs, as I am not a Hugo voter.  I am, however, a Saturn Awards voter, so when I told my readers to "stay tuned for my television submissions for the Saturn Awards" at the end of that same entry, I was warning my readers about an even more direct attempt to work the refs.  It began when I noted the following passage in The Saturn Awards Voting Procedures
All television programming aired during our qualifying period is eligible for Saturn Award consideration.  The Academy has members who monitor television programming to assist in nominations.

Any specific television program may be submitted to the organization for award consideration.  Although we do not require submission fees, we ask anyone submitting a program to become a member of our organization.
Since I was an Associate Member last year and will pay again to retain that status this year, I believe I qualify to submit television shows for consideration.  So I did.  Follow over the jump for my submissions and my opinions of their likelihood of getting in.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

'Get Out,' 'Logan,' and 'The Shape of Water' among nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

I told my readers to stay tuned for the nominees of the Nebula Awards at the conclusion of Speculative fiction nominees galore at the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards.  From File 770, here are the 2017 Nebula Finalists for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation.
Get Out (Written by Jordan Peele)
The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit” (Written by Michael Schur)
Logan (Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green)
The Shape of Water (Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Written by Rian Johnson)
Wonder Woman (Screenplay by Allan Heinberg)
Based on which the screenwriters have nominated for the WGA Awards as well as the Oscars, the real contenders are "Get Out," which won Best Original Screenplay at the WGA Awards and is nominated for an Oscar, "The Shape of Water," which was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at both the WGA Awards and the Academy Awards, and "Logan," which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at both the WGA Awards and the Academy Awards.  If the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America follow the lead of the WGA and the Writers Branch of the Motion Picture Academy, "Get Out" would be the favorite, followed by "Logan" and "The Shape of Water."

JJ, who wrote the post, suggested that the readers check out the list to see if they would be good contenders for Hugo ballots, which prompted me to write the following comments in which I evaluated the nominees and made my own suggestions.
Those are absolutely the right top five movies for the Ray Bradbury Award, three of the four most nominated speculative fiction films at the Academy Awards, the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, and an AFI Film of the Year in "Wonder Woman."  For the sixth spot on the Dramatic Presentation, Long Form ballot, I'd like to see "Blade Runner 2049" but I wouldn't be upset if any of the rest of the Oscar nominated speculative fiction films -- "War for the Planet of the Apes," "Guardians of the Galaxy, V. 2," "Beauty and the Beast," or even "Kong: Skull Island" -- ended up in the sixth spot.  A long shot would be "It," which is the highest grossing horror film ever but earned no nominations at the Academy Awards.
In case my readers are wondering what I'm doing, I'm working the refs as much as I am making predictions.

I also ventured my choices for television shows that could join "The Good Place" among the Hugo nominees.
"The Good Place" is a worthy nominee, if a bit surprising because it's a comedy.  I'd like to see it on the Hugo ballot for Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.  My picks for joining it would be "Game of Thrones" episodes "Spoils of War" or "Beyond the Wall," "The Handmaid's Tale" episodes "Offred" or "Night," "Stranger Things" episodes "The Mind Flayer" or "The Gate," "American Gods" episodes "The Bone Orchard" or "Come to Jesus," and "The Leftovers" episodes "The Book of Nora" or "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)."  That last one is a long shot, as I expect "The Expanse" episode "Home" will be nominated instead.  I wouldn't be upset, as "The Expanse" won last year.  Also, two episodes of "Game of Thrones" might end up nominated again as well, displacing another worthy contender.
I then realized that my suggestions were incomplete.
I forgot three likely and worthy nominees for Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.  First, "Star Trek: Discovery" although I'm not sure which episode would best represent the series.  The highest rated on IMDB is "Into the Forest I Go," but that doesn't excite me as much as the ones with Harry Mudd.  Then there are the shows that imitate Star Trek, especially the "Black Mirror" episode "USS Callister."  Also, someone will have an episode of "The Orville" on their ballots.  I think that show's best episodes haven't aired yet.
I suspect that within all those suggestions are all of the nominees.  Nothing like firing a metaphorical shotgun at the target.  Besides, my suggestions might influence enough readers that it might make them come true.

I had one last thing to say about the potential fields for the Hugo Awards: "Looking at those lists, I can say it really has been a good year for speculative fiction on both the large and small screen." It really has.  Speaking of which, stay tuned for my television submissions for the Saturn Awards.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Speculative fiction nominees galore at the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards

"Stay tuned for the nominees of the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards."  So I concluded 'The Shape of Water,' 'Wonder Woman,' 'Game of Thrones,' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' all winners at the Costume Designers Guild Awards and so I shall continue today.

Wochit Entertainment introduces tonight's awards with "Wonder"ful Makeup & Hairstyling Nominations In Our ‘Darkest Hour’.

The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild announced the nominations for its 2018 awards on Friday, with “Wonder” and “Darkest Hour” leading all films with three nominations each for their prosthetic makeup and hairstyling. There were a few other nominations too, including “The Big Sick,” “Pitch Perfect 3,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Blade Runner 2049” and “I, Tonya” each receiving two nominations each. Television nominees included “The Crown,” “Game of Thrones,” “Stranger Things” and “GLOW.” Winners will be announced on February 24 at the Nuovo at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.
The video mentioned some of the speculative fiction nominees, but not all, and certainly not the number and categories of awards.  PR Newswire's press release about the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards nominations does the trick.  First, the movie categories, every one of which has at least one speculative fiction nominee, along with my opinions of their chances and the movie I think will win.


Fionagh Cush, Phyllis Temple

Leo Won, Kirsten Sylvester

Deborah La Mia Denaver, Jane O'Kane

Melanie Hughes-Weaver, Judy Yonemoto, Erica Kyker

Naomi Bakstad, Jean Black, Megan Harkness
"Ghost in the Shell" is the one speculative fiction nominee in the field.  This is its one Hollywood guild nomination for the movie, the other being for its trailer.  Unfortunately, it won't win it, as I think "Wonder" has it all sewn up; it is the one movie in this field with an Oscar nomination.

Tonia Ciccone, Toni Roman-Grimm

Camille Friend, Louisa Anthony, Jules Holdren

Cydney Cornell, Susan Buffington

Cheryl Marks, Melissa Malkasian, Andrea Bowman

Robert Pandini, Alisa Macmillian
"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" is the sole speculative fiction nominee here.  I think it has a better chance than "Ghost in the Shell" in its category, but I still think it has an uphill battle against "Wonder."  I also think it has stiffer competition from the other nominees.


Donald Mowat, Jo-Ann MacNeil, Csilla Horvath Blake

Alessandro Bertolazzi, Cristina Waltz, Judy Murdock

Ivana Primorac, Flora Moody

Nicki Ledermann, Tania Ribalow, Sunday Englis

Deborah La Mia Denaver, Teresa Vest, Bill Myer
Check it out, the urban fantasy "Bright" got a nomination.  While I'm sure it will get another one next week at the Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Film, this is the only Hollywood guild nomination it earned.  Unfortunately, the other speculative fiction film in the field, "Blade Runner 2049," is a more highly regarded film with five Oscar nominations.  Worse yet, both are competing against "The Darkest Hour," which has one of the three nominations for Makeup and Hairstyling at the Oscars.  In fact, I think "The Darkest Hour" has the best chance out of this field of three.

Enzo Angileri

Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, Charlotte Hayward

Kerry Warn, Lizzie Lawson Zeiss, Jaime Leigh McIntosh

Ivana Primorac, Flora Moody

Adruitha Lee, Mary Everett
"Blade Runner 2049" earned a second nomination in this category, where it's competing with a second speculative fiction nominee, "Beauty and the Beast."  Both of them have a decent chance against "Darkest Hour," but I think the nominee with the best chance of an upset is "I, Tonya."  "Beauty and the Beast" has the next best shot.

John Blake, Brian Sipe

DARKEST HOUR                  
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick

Mike Hill, Shane Mahan

Neal Scanlan, Peter Swords King

Arjen Tuiten, Michael Nickiforek
Speculative fiction films have their best showing here with three nominees, "The Shape of Water," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and the second nomination for "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2."  However, I think this is a battle between the two Oscar nominees, "Darkest Hour" and "Wonder," in the one category where they face each other.  Whichever one wins has the advantage at the Oscars.

By the way, one Oscar nominee, "Victoria & Abdul," was not nominated at all at these awards.  That confirms to me that it's not seriously in the running for the Oscar and makes me wonder whether or not a speculative fiction film such as "Blade Runner 2049" or "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" should have been nominated instead.  I think the Saturn Awards will do their best to rectify that omission. 

Follow over the jump for nominees in other media.

Friday, February 23, 2018

'The Shape of Water,' 'Wonder Woman,' 'Game of Thrones,' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' all winners at the Costume Designers Guild Awards

My busy week of blogging about the results of awards shows continues with the winners of the the Costume Designers Guild Awards.  Take it away (not really) The Hollywood Reporter.*

2018 Costume Designers Guild Award Winners: The Complete List | by The Hollywood Reporter.  As a precursor to the Academy Awards — less than two weeks away — Tuesday's Costume Designers Guild ...
Just to review, the speculative fiction film winners were "The Shape of Water" for Excellence in Period Film and "Wonder Woman" for Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film.  In addition, Guillermo Del Toro won the Distinguished Collaborator Award.

I thought "The Shape of Water" had a chance, as it was also nominated at the BAFTA Awards and Critics' Choice Awards, but I was not optimistic, as it was competing against "Phantom Thread," which won at both the BAFTA Awards and the Critics' Choice Award for Best Costume Design.  I'm now more optimistic about its chances for an Oscar in this category, even though I still think "The Phantom Tread" is the favorite.  While I was rooting for "Wonder Woman" along with "The Last Jedi," I thought "Beauty and the Beast" was the favorite.  I am glad to be wrong.  Unfortunately, "Wonder Woman" is not nominated in any category at the Oscars, so this win means nothing there.  I still think it is very likely to earn a nomination at the Saturn Awards for its costumes.

I didn't think "Get Out" would win for Excellence in Contemporary Film, favoring "I, Tonya."  I was right, "I, Tonya" won.  Unfortunately, it isn't nominated for an Academy Award for its costumes, either.  I highly doubt it will be nominated at the Saturn Awards in this category, but they might consider it an Action Film, so I won't be completely surprised, either.

On the television side, the speculative fiction winners are "Game of Thrones" for Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Television and "The Handmaid's Tale" for Excellence in Contemporary Television.  I was rooting for "Once Upon a Time" but expected "Game of Thrones" to win.  I was also rooting for "The Handmaid's Tale" to win its category but was reluctant to deem it the favorite.  I shouldn't have been so cautious.

As for Excellence in Period Film, that went to "The Crown" as I expected.  I really didn't think "Stranger Things" had better costumes and I was right.

Finally, even though I was rooting for Katy Perry's “Chained to the Rhythm” to win Excellence in Short Form Design, that trophy went to P!NK's “Beautiful Trauma” instead.  Here is its video.**

Channing Tatum sure can dance!

That's a wrap for the Costume Designers Guild Awards.  Stay tuned for the nominees of the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild Awards.

*This is an imposter account.  I should report it, but it's giving me videos the verified Hollywood Reporter account isn't, so I won't.  In the meantime, anyone want to venture a guess as to when the account and its videos will be taken down?

**I featured both videos along with Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" in Midweek Cafe and Lounge, Vol. 53 at Booman Tribune.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Blade Runner 2049,' 'Coco,' 'Game of Thrones,' and 'War for the Planet of the Apes' among Golden Reel Awards winners

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the winners of the MPSE Golden Reel Awards" at the end of 'The Shape of Water,' 'Blade Runner 2049,' and 'Coco' among speculative fiction winners at the BAFTA Awards.  I'm going to let (not really) The Hollywood Reporter do most of my work for me.  Watch Golden Reel Awards: Oscar Nominees 'Blade Runner 2049,' 'Dunkirk' Among Sound Editor Winners.

The Motion Picture Sound Editors spread the wealth at its 65th MPSE Golden Reel Awards, held Sunday ...
They certainly did, as no movie took home more than one award.  The speculative fiction movie winners were "Blade Runner 2049" for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Effects / Foley, "War for the Planet of the Apes" for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Dialogue / ADR, and "Coco" for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Animation.

The speculative fiction winners among live-action television shows were "Game of Thrones" in both Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Episodic Short Form – Effects / Foley and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Episodic Short Form – Dialogue/ADR for the episode "Spoils of War," "The Mind Flayer" episode of "Stranger Things" for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Episodic Short Form – Music / Musical, and "Black Mirror: USS Callister" for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Episodic Long Form – Dialogue/ADR.  "Lego DC Super Hero Girls" won Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Non-Theatrical Animation Long Form while video game spinoff "Overwatch: Honor and Glory" won Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing - Animation Short Form.

Speaking of video games, three of them won accolades for their sound editing.  "Star Wars: Battlefront II" and "Call of Duty: WWII" tied for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Computer Interactive Game Play.  "Halo Wars 2" won Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Computer Cinematic.  Just like at the Art Directors Guild Awards, "Star Wars: Battlefront II" came through while "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" didn't.

That would be it for the Golden Reel Awards for this year except that I'm planning on mentioning the trophy "Jane" won for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Feature Documentary when I list all of its awards while whining about it being snubbed at the Oscars.  Stay tuned for that after I report on the winners of the the Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

'The Shape of Water,' 'Blade Runner 2049,' and 'Coco' among speculative fiction winners at the BAFTA Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for winners of the BAFTA Awards" in the conclusion to 'Black Panther' rules the Presidents Day weekend box office and Billboard 200.  Four speculative fiction films won awards, "The Shape of Water" and "Blade Runner 2049" with two each while "Coco" and "Poles Apart" each won one.  In addition, Daniel Kaluuya, the star of "Get Out," won Rising Star and Ridley Scott, producer and director of many speculative fiction films earned a fellowship.

While "The Shape of Water" came into the ceremony with twelve nominations, the most of any movie, it only came away with three trophies, Director for Guillermo Del Toro, Original Music for Alexandre Desplat, and Production Design for Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin, and Shane Vieau.  It lost Best Film, Leading Actress, and Original Screenplay to "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which also won Supporting Actor and Best British Film for a total of five, the most of any film at the BAFTA Awards.  Still, "The Shape of Water" did better than "Arrival," which was the most nominated film last year but only earned one award.

Enough of that.  Watch as Guillermo del Toro wins Director for The Shape of Water.

Guillermo del Toro's acceptance speech for The Shape of Water.
I think Del Toro is easily the favorite for this award at the Oscars.

Next, The Shape of Water wins Original Music.

Alexandre Desplat accepts the Original Music award for The Shape of Water.
I also think Desplat is the overwhelming favorite at the Oscars.

Finally, The Shape of Water wins Production Design.

Paul Austerberry, Jeff Melvin and Shane Vieau accept the Production Design award for their work on The Shape of Water.
While it beat "Blade Runner 2049" here, I'm still not saying it is the overwhelming favorite, as both won .  Speaking of "Blade Runner 2049," follow over the jump for its two wins along with the rest of the speculative fiction winners.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'Black Panther' rules the Presidents Day weekend box office and Billboard 200

I mentioned "Fifty Shades Darker" being beaten by a superhero movie last year.  That's going to happen this weekend, as SyFy Wire reports Black Panther: The album expected to top charts, film eyeing $170 million opening.  Wow!  Stay tuned to see if both of those predictions come to pass.
That's how I concluded 'Fifty Shades Freed' tops the box office for Valentines Day.  The Hollywood Reporter shows that "Black Panther" exceeded even those lofty expectations in Weekend Box Office: 'Black Panther' Bounds to Record-Shattering $235M-Plus Bow.

Estimates for the history-making movie keep going up and up; overseas, it amasses $169 million for an estimated global launch of $404 million.
Wow, indeed!  What about the album?  Billboard reports 'Black Panther: The Album' Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart.
Black Panther: The Album debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, launching with 154,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Feb. 15, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 52,000 are in traditional album sales.

The set, which features music from and inspired by the blockbuster Marvel Studios film Black Panther, garners the biggest week for a soundtrack — in terms of total units earned — in a year-and-a-half. The last soundtrack to score a larger week was Suicide Squad: The Album, which bowed atop the Aug. 27, 2016-dated list with 182,000 units earned. Black Panther: The Album was released on Feb. 9 through Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope Records.
Black Panther is the second soundtrack to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2018, following The Greatest Showman, which spent two weeks atop the list (dated Jan. 13 and 20).
Double wow!  I'm impressed.

What about the soundtrack for "Fifty Shades Freed?"
With Black Panther: The Album, The Greatest Showman and Fifty Shades Freed at Nos. 1, 3 and 5, the chart houses a trio of soundtracks in the top five for only the second time in the last 10 years. The only other time three soundtracks have populated the top five in the last 10 years was on the May 30, 2015-dated list, when Pitch Perfect 2 debuted at No. 1, Fifty Shades of Grey moved 6-3 and Furious 7 rose 7-5.
That's impressive as well as informative.  Now I know three of the likely nominees for Best Soundtrack Compilation at next year's Grammy Awards.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the box office, plus a follow-up to a prediction I made.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Movie and TV Presidents from the Wall Street Journal for (Not My) Presidents Day

Happy (Not My) Presidents Day!  I'm still in a mood to deal with fantasy instead of reality, so I'm posting the Wall Street Journal's Election 2016: Fake Presidents Edition to mark today's holiday.

The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign season may seem stranger than fiction, but is it really that bad? It could be worse, compared to other American presidents who exist in the reality of our smartphones and televisions.
I don't know if the fictional presidents would be worse.  Selina Meyer is not any worse than Trump in competence and character and she has better staff.  Plus, she's a Democrat.  Fitzgerald Grant also has better staff and really does try to make things better for Americans.  Frank Underwood is a very evil man, but he's also very competent and knows he has to at least been seen trying to make things better for the mass of people, even as he's killing off rival politicians.  None of them are my favorite TV President.  That honor goes to Tom Kirkman of "Designated Survivor."  He is the most decent character of the bunch and he's been learning fast on the job.  Watching him is the next best thing to watching Josiah Bartlett from "The West Wing."*

In the comments, I ask my readers to name their favorite fictional U.S. President.  If I get enough nominations, I'll post my readers' favorites.

*Many of the actors from "The West Wing" made a cameo at my blog in a video I posted first in article on Free Press endorsements and again in Second Year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News:  The video is still up; I suppose that's because Bridget Mary McCormack will likely be running again this year.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

'War for the Planet of the Apes,' 'Coco,' and 'Game of Thrones' biggest winners at Visual Effects Society Awards

In Vox on figure skating, I said I would write about the MPSE Golden Reel Awards.  I even had a title, "'The Shape of Water' and 'Blade Runner 2049' among leading movie nominees at Golden Reel Awards."  Yesterday, I found a passage to quote and even picked out a preview image.*  Today, I woke up, found out that the winners of the Visual Effects Society Awards had been announced on Fat Tuesday and changed my mind.  Hey, this blog is my hobby and I do it for my own edification and enjoyment; if I don't want to do something, I don't have to.

With no further ado, here are the big winners from Deadline Hollywood.
Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes took four prizes including the marquee Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature.
Its other three awards were for Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature, Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature, and Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature.  Its four wins bolsters my prediction that "War for the Planet of the Apes" is the favorite to win Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.  Hail Caesar!

Now for the rest of the live-action movie winners.
Blade Runner 2049 — which came into the gala tied with Planet of the Apes with a leading seven nominations — was the only other multiple winner of the film side, taking two trophies.
Those two awards were Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project for Los Angeles Police Headquarters and Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature for Los Angeles.  As an ex-Angelino, I can now say that Los Angeles can never be too fake.
Dunkirk and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 picked up one win apiece at the Beverly Hilton ceremony hosted for a seventh time by Patton Oswalt.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" won Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project for Groot Dance/Opening Fight.  I would have to agree.  That sequence was amazing to behold.  The one non-speculative fiction winner, "Dunkirk," earned an award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature.  I still fully expect it to be nominated as at the Saturn Awards in the Action category, along with all the rest of the winners.

Speaking of winners, Cartoon Brew, where I found the preview image for this entry, had the better coverage of "Coco."
Disney-Pixar’s Coco won all four of the event’s awards that are presented to feature animation: an overall prize for visual effects, as well as honors for animated character, created environment, and effects simulation.

The most-nominated animation film, Despicable Me 3, with five nods, was shut out completely, as was The Lego Ninjago Movie, which had four nominations. That’s hardly a surprise. In the last six years, the Walt Disney Company’s animated films have won 23 out of 24 possible VES animation awards; the sole exception was last year when Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings slipped away with the overall visual effects award.
I don't know if "Despicable Me 3" losing here and being completely snubbed by the Oscars would be enough to put it over the top at the Saturn Awards.  That happened last year with "Finding Dory."  I do expect it to be nominated.

Deadline Hollywood made an observation about "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
Speaking of the Disney/Lucasfilm franchise, 2017’s top domestic grosser Star Wars: The Last Jedi came in with four nominations and left the Hilton with … bupkis. Including last year’s surprising VES shutout for spinoff pic Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, that means the behemoth series is 0-for-11 nominations in the past two years. This after The Force Awakens dominated the 2016 VES Awards.
I don't think "The Last Jedi" will win anything at the Oscars this year, either.  The Saturn Awards will be a different story.

That's it for movies.  Follow over the jump for the rest of the winners, including "Game of Thrones," which won five of the six awards for live-action television.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Instructions on how to deal with an active shooter

In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, my students asked me to do something I've never done before in class, explain how to react to an active shooter situation.  I did my best, telling them to try to escape first and giving them the first exit to the room and building and then where to assemble.  I then told them that if they couldn't escape to hide and found the best place in the room to hide.  I then told them to fight back and how to do so.  I mentioned this on my Facebook page and one of my colleagues directed me to this video from Boston College, which the college uses for training.

I'll be showing this to my students in the classes that I haven't given instructions to.  It's something I can do while advocating for Congress to fund gun violence research at the CDC and NIH, which I shared in October in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting, earning the post 8,851 additional raw page views and landing it in first on the all time list with 10,323 raw and 10,091 default page views.*  Despite the popularity of the post, I'm not optimistic about that happening soon in a land that loves guns.  Here's to hoping that changes.  In the meantime, stay safe, everyone.

*That lasted until December, when Vox explains how proportional representation can solve gerrymandering and help minor parties earned 12,750 default and 12,890 raw page views to unseat it. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Happy Year of the Earth Dog!

Happy Lunar New Year!  So long Year of the Fire Rooster.  Welcome the Year of the Earth Dog!  I begin the festivities with explaining Chinese New Year: The Year of the Dog.

Chinese New Year is February 16, 2018. It's the first year of the earth dog since 1958.

What is the Year of the Dog? What sign are you?

Learn more about the 12 animals and the five elements that make up the Chinese Zodiac, as well as what type of personality you have based on astrology.
One of the people born in the Year of the Dog is Donald Trump.  Al Jazeera noted that, too, and asked Will Trump be unlucky in the Chinese Year of the Dog?

The millions celebrating the oncoming Chinese New Year are hopeful that it will bring prosperity and good luck.

But Chinese horoscopes say that the Year of the Dog, which is about to start, brings bad luck, and those born in the same zodiac year will face that bad luck.

US President Donald Trump was born in the Year of the Dog, and fortunetellers are saying that the bad luck of his birth year will hit him this year.

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown reports from Beijing.
I hope his bad luck, in as little as I believe in it, doesn't rub off on the rest of us Americans.  As for Trump looking like a dog or the dog looking like Trump, here is a side-by-side comparison.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vox on figure skating

I concluded The science of the Winter Olympics from ASAPScience Part 1 with a program note.
I'll resume this series after a series of three holidays, Darwin Day, Valentine's Day, and Paczki Day.  Stay tuned!
I still plan on resuming my series featuring ASAPScience's Olympic science videos, but today I take a different tack with two videos about figure skating from Vox.  I begin with Why the triple axel is such a big deal.

Triple axels can turn skaters into legends. This is why.
In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explores the triple axel and why it's such a big deal. The figure skating jump is legendary among ice skaters, from Tonya Harding's 1991 triple axel to modern icon Mirai Nagasu's attempts in competition. It turns out that the physics of the triple axel makes it a uniquely difficult jump — and one worth learning about.

As a forward-edge jump, the mechanics of a triple axel requires technical acumen from skaters while they still try to maintain an artistically interesting performance. Pioneers like Midori Ito and Tonya Harding had to jump, ramp up rotation speed, and then land all while trying to look good. This effort set them apart from competitors like Nancy Kerrigan, but it wasn't easy to land a triple axel in competition.

And that difficulty might be why the triple axel endures as the pinnacle of figure skating performance — and why it's sure to light up the 2018 Winter Olympics as well.
Note: The video states Mirai Nagasu was the second American to land a triple axel in competition (this was recorded before her Olympic success). In 2005, American Kimmy Miessner completed a triple axel in national competition, though not world competition.
I was wondering when someone would compare Mirai Nagasu and Tonya Harding.  This video finally did.

Nagasu also figures in the next video from Vox, How figure skating scoring rewards risk over artistry.

The new figure skating scoring system is complicated and controversial. Here's how it works.
At the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel in an Olympic event, just the third woman ever to accomplish this feat. She failed to cleanly land the same jump at the 2018 US Figure Skating Championship, in San Jose California, but she still received 6.07 points for the jump, almost two points more than her teammate's perfect double axel, which received 4.09 points. Figure skating score is complicated, and the new scoring system has changed how competitors skate. But how does it work?
I used to be a marching band judge, so the debate over artistry versus technical merit versus clean execution and how to score all of them looks very familiar to me.  The same debate goes on in the marching arts and has for decades.  I wish the figure skating community luck in resolving it; they'll need it.

I'll be back with more about the Olympics after Lunar New Year and reports on the nominees of the Golden Reel Awards.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

'Fifty Shades Freed' tops the box office for Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!  Three years ago, "Fifty Shades of Grey" topped the Valentine's weekend box office.  This year, the climax of the trilogy, "Fifty Shades Freed," whipped its competition at the box office, an estimated $38.8 million.  That's not all.  Newsy reports Fifty Shades' franchise passes $1 billion.

Between the "Fifty Shades of Grey" premiere and the highly anticipated (if disappointing) climax this weekend, the franchise has made $1 billion.
It beats last year's results, when "Lego Batman" spanked "Fifty Shaders Darker."

As I noted about both the first installment and the second, the songs are the strongest part of this movie.  The one I could find with the most views, Liam Payne, Rita Ora - For You (Fifty Shades Freed) has as many views as the dollars earned by the movie in North America during the opening weekend, 35.5 million.

I expect at least one Grammy nomination for Best Compilation Album, if not for one of its songs.  (ETA: I also expect this film to be nominated for at least one Razzie, like "Fifty Shades Darker" was this year.)

I mentioned "Fifty Shades Darker" being beaten by a superhero movie last year.  That's going to happen this weekend, as SyFy Wire reports Black Panther: The album expected to top charts, film eyeing $170 million opening.  Wow!  Stay tuned to see if both of those predictions come to pass.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

'Get Out,' 'The Handmaid's Tale,' and 'BoJack Horseman' win WGA Awards for Fat Tuesday/Paczki Day

Happy Paczki Day AKA Fat Tuesday! I promised "The next award show I plan on writing about will be the WGA Awards on the 11th" at the conclusion of 'Coco,' 'Rick and Morty,' and 'Samurai Jack' among Annie winners. I also said I would write about "the winners of 2018 WGA Awards" at the end of Two videos from PBS Eons for Darwin Day.  It's time to follow through with the news from Deadline Hollywood.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out and James Ivory’s Call Me By Your Name won the marquee film awards tonight at the 70th annual WGA Awards, in concurrent shows in New York and Los Angeles. It puts both screenplays on the frontrunner list for the Oscars.
Here's what I wrote about the Original Screenplay nominees in early January.
"The Shape of Water" and "Get Out" have been nominated in every major awards show so far, the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards, AFI Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and SAG Awards.  I should not be surprised that their excellence began with a great original script.
Other than cheering all the speculative fiction nominees one, I didn't make a prediction.  I got closer in 'The Shape of Water' and 'Blade Runner 2049' lead speculative fiction nominees at the Oscars.
This is a close category that I can't call until the WGA Awards on February 10th.  Still, I'm glad to write that "Get Out" has a very good chance.
Now I can say that "Get Out" is favored at the Oscars.

I was not as optimistic about the chances for "Logan."  Here's what I wrote at the start of January.
"Logan" is the sole speculative fiction nominee among the adapted screenplay nominees.  I'm pleased but surprised.  If I thought any superhero movie would have earned this honor, it would have been "Wonder Woman."  As The Hollywood Reporter noted, it was eligible.  Still, it can now stand beside "Deadpool" as a superhero film worthy of a WGA nomination.
I made a more detailed prediction when I discussed the Oscar nominees
.Hey, look, "Logan," the first live-action superhero film to earn a screenwriting nomination at the Academy Awards.  That's an honor that could have gone to "Deadpool" or "The Dark Knight" first.  I'm happy for the writers, but I think this award will go to "Call Me by Your Name."
That's exactly what happened here and what I even more strongly expect at the Academy Awards.

That's enough of the movies for now.*  Follow over the jump for the television winners.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Two videos from PBS Eons for Darwin Day

Happy Darwin Day!  Just as I did last year and the year before, I'm celebrating Charles Darwin's birthday with a series of PBS videos on the subject of evolution.  This time, I'm not sharing clips of a television program, but videos from a PBS Digital Studios project, PBS Eons, which explores the history of life on Earth primarily through fossils.  As a paleontologist, I approve.

I begin with the one video so far in which Darwin is mentioned, 'Living Fossils' Aren't Really a Thing.  That's true even though Darwin himself coined the term.

Crocodiles, horseshoe crabs and tuatara are animals that have persisted for millions of years, said to have gone unchanged since the days of the dinosaurs. But even the most ancient-looking organisms show us that evolution is always at work.
Looks like I'll have to stop using the term and show this video to people who still do.

I conclude with a video I plan on showing to my students this week, A Brief History of Geologic Time.

By looking at the layers beneath our feet, geologists have been able to identify and describe crucial episodes in life’s history. These key events frame the chapters in the story of life on earth and the system we use to bind all these chapters together is the Geologic Time Scale.
I mention all the concepts and nearly all the people involved in my lecture on geologic time, so I may as well use a professionally produced and informative video to introduce them.  I hope my students like it as much as I do.

I plan on sharing more of these videos in the future.  In the meantime, stay tuned for posts about Valentine's Day and Paczki Day before returning to The science of the Winter Olympics from ASAPScience and the winners of 2018 WGA Awards.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The science of the Winter Olympics from ASAPScience Part 1

I concluded CDC reports worst flu season since 2009 with a suggestion to myself.
Enough about flu for now.  Tomorrow will be an entertainment entry.  Since sports counts as entertainment, I might post something about the Winter Olympics.  Stay tuned.
I posted three entries about the 2014 Sochi Olympics, all of them about science and engineering, The physics of figure skating, More science of the Olympics from Discovery News, and Science and engineering of the Olympics from the NSF.  I'm continuing the science theme for this year's Winter Olympics.  I could return to the NSF for their 2010 playlist, but I decided to go with ASAPScience's 2014 playlist instead.

Here's the first of the videos, Amazing Olympic Facts.

Because of the excitement surrounding the Olympics, we decided to make a series about the psychology, physiology, biology, chemistry and physics of the games! Join us every day for your daily dose of Olympic science.
The very first fact about the composition of Olympic medals, recalls the Seeker/DNews video "Are Olympic Gold Medals Really Made of Gold?" I included in More science of the Olympics from Discovery News.  I tell my students about that in reference to gold medalists biting their awards.  Let's see how many of my students see that sight and remember my little lecture.

As for the rest, many of them are previews of coming attractions.  Follow over the jump to see how many appear in the next five videos.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

CDC reports worst flu season since 2009

A week ago, I reported the CDC switched from nuclear war to flu as epidemic declared just before false alarm in Hawaii.  This month, the number of flu cases reached the peak of the 2009-2010 Swine Flu epidemic, which means this is the worst flu outbreak in the U.S. since I started writing this blog in 2011.  No wonder the CDC switched from nuclear detonation to flu!

I have four videos about the outbreak to share with my readers.  The first is This flu season could be worst in a decade from CBS News, which has the best headline and states all the important facts.

The CDC said Friday one in 10 deaths in the U.S. is currently caused by the flu or pneumonia. It's already one of the worst seasons on record, and it may not peak for several weeks. CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports.
The acting director of the CDC appears again in the next video, A Pediatrician’s Tips On Protecting Your Family From Flu from NBC Nightly News.

63 children have died this season, compared to 20 within the same period last year. The CDC says at the current rate 34 million Americans will get the flu this season. One pediatrician shares secrets on how to stop the spread at home.
I wouldn't be surprised if more than 60,000 Americans die and one million are hospitalized when this epidemic is over in May.  Also, this flu season will likely have lasting effects on how Americans stifle sneezes.  The response to the 2009-2010 Swine Flu epidemic included teaching people to sneeze into their sleeves.  This one will teach people to sneeze into their shirts, too.

Flu victim Gabriella Chabot figured prominently in both of the above reports.  CBS Los Angeles posted a KCAL segment on her memorial yesterday, Friends, Parents Attend Touching Vigil For Teen Killed By Flu.

Gabriella Chabot would have turned 15 next week. Tonight, people who knew her tried to come to grips with her loss. Tom Wait reports.
My father ran a business in Thousand Oaks when I was kid and I would go to his office with him on weekends, so this story hits close to home, literally.  Also, this is the first time I've labeled a post with obituary, pandemics, and kids.  I hope I don't have to do that again; the combination hurts.

I conclude by providing the local perspective with WXYZ's latest report on the outbreak, Metro Detroit suffering under harsh flu season as weeks still remain.

The deadly flu epidemic isn’t easing up anytime soon. Several more deaths have been reported in just the last few days including a White Lake man and a 12-year-old boy here in Michigan.
This segment had even more useful statistics, even though they did not include the latest ten pediatric deaths.

Enough about flu for now.  Tomorrow will be an entertainment entry.  Since sports counts as entertainment, I might post something about the Winter Olympics.  Stay tuned.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Vox explains why the 2020 Census is at risk

When I wrote "expect more reality," I was hoping for more posts like SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy as Colbert crowns Musk 'King Nerd', but I was expecting more posts like today, in which Vox reports The 2020 census is in serious trouble.

Problems have plagued the US Census Bureau in recent decades.
The 2020 census was added to the Government Accountability Office’s list of programs with a high-risk of failure. And failing to accurately count the population would threaten the integrity of the country’s most authoritative dataset that drives public policy.

Because the census is used in for a myriad of democratic functions, it’s important that the US gets it right. But now the Department of Justice has proposed to change the 2020 form, which could create further problems for the bureau.
This hits home for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I moonlighted as a census taker in 2000 and Kenneth Prewitt was the head of the Census Bureau then.  While I've mentioned several times that I was a National Park Ranger and have posted entries about the census several times, this is the first time I've mentioned my last federal government job.  It's about time.

On a less personal note, I agree with Vox that this is bad for democracy, bad for understanding the country through data, and potentially bad for immigrants.  What good will it do to reform redistricting to reduce gerrymandering if the data being used is flawed?

As for identifying citizens and making it easier to remove them, it reminds me of something I said to my students in June 2015.  One of them asked if the U.S. would ever institute restrictions on births like China has.  I responded that doing so would spark riots.  Instead, the United States would be far more likely to restrict immigration and harass immigrants who were already here.  The next week, Trump declared his candidacy by attacking Mexicans.  One of his first actions as President was to declare a travel ban.  Sometimes, I don't like being right.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy as Colbert crowns Musk 'King Nerd'

In SpaceX announces it will take tourists around Earth's moon next year, I wrote "The Falcon Heavy hasn't been launched yet."  As of yesterday, that isn't true anymore.  ABC News has the story in SpaceX launches biggest rocket in the world.

The $90 million Falcon Heavy was carrying company founder Elon Musk's Tesla car.
Stephen Colbert is a big space fan, so of course Stephen Crowns Elon Musk As The King Nerd.

Stephen looks at this week's scientific advancements in astronautics and unnecessary snack gendering.
Yes, Stephen, the imagery of firing a red convertible playing rock'n'roll into space does make for the best mid-life crisis.

Another late night host who found the phallic symbolism of the event almost too overwhelming was James Corden in The Starman Now Drives a Red Tesla.  Just look at the preview image and start watching at 3:19.

James looks at the news of the day, including SpaceX's launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, sending a very special payload into orbit, and a Girl Scout who set up shop outside of a marijuana dispensary.
Other than congratulations, I've already said the funniest thing about this event last year -- SpaceX launch you up!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

'Coco,' 'Rick and Morty,' and 'Samurai Jack' among Annie winners

"The animated films and television shows had their own awards ceremony, the Annie Awards.  I'll be writing about them next."  That's what I wrote yesterday, so without any further ado, here are the winners from Deadline Hollywood's ‘Coco’ Dominates Annies; ‘Rick And Morty’ Tops TV: Complete Winners List.
The world of animation bowed before Coco tonight at the 45th annual Annie Awards from UCLA’s Royce Hall. The Day of the Dead-themed Disney/Pixar toon pummeled the competition, going 11-for-13 in its nominated categories including Best Animated Feature. If it wasn’t clear who the Oscar front-runner was yes, it is now.
Since I like videos, here is Wochit Entertainment's retelling of this paragraph with the latest box office.

The animated blockbuster Coco triumphed at the 45th annual Annie Awards Saturday night. It won nearly every category in which it was nominated, including Best Picture. Pixar Animation Studios’ 19th feature film had an amazing run, in terms of box office earnings and awards season success. The movie pulled in more than 72 million dollars in its 5-day opening frame over the extended Thanksgiving weekend. The film has a worldwide take of more than 682 million dollars.
From Entertainment Weekly, the other awards it earned were Outstanding Achievement, Directing – Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Writing – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Production Design – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Character Design – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Music – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Editorial – Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting – Feature Production, and Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding – Feature/Broadcast Production.  I see 11 wins, but comparing with Animation World Network's list of nominees, I don't see two categories in which it lost.  What does show up are two categories in which it was double-nominated and one of the nominees won, so I count that as a sweep for the movie.  As I wrote in 'The Shape of Water' and 'Blade Runner 2049' lead speculative fiction nominees at the Oscars, "'Coco' has this award in the bag.  It had better hope the bag isn't wet."  I can officially say the bag is dry.

Only one other feature won and that was in a category for which "Coco" was not eligible.  From Deadline Hollywood:
The top category was split three years ago with the addition of the Best Independent Animated feature category. This year’s champ was Cartoon Saloon’s The Breadwinner, the tale of a young girl growing up in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. It came in with 10 nominations but went home with only the one.
If the bag had been wet, I'd say this would be the movie most likely to beat "Coco," but I'm less worried now.

I have three more movie awards to mention.  First, "Dear Basketball" won Best Animated Short Subject.  I now know the favorite in that category and expect to see Kobe Bryant on the stage next month, although it could be upstaged by "Revolting Rhymes," which won Best Animated Special Production.  Next, "War for the Planet of the Apes" won Character Animation in a Live Action Production.  I think I know which movie has the animators' vote for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars.

Follow over the jump for the other winners.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

'The Shape of Water,' 'Get Out,' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' all winners at the DGA Awards

After six days of reality, even including the Super Bowl, which served as the Sunday entertainment entry, it's time for some fantasy.  Fortunately, Deadline Hollywood provides some in DGA Awards: Guillermo Del Toro Wins For ‘The Shape Of Water’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Tops TV — Complete Winners List.
The Directors Guild of America honored outstanding achievement in directing for film and television tonight at the DGA Awards. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water won the award for Best Feature while Reed Morano walked away with the award for Dramatic Series for The Handmaid’s Tale. Jordan Peele also won big with the First-Time Feature Award for Get Out.

Along with his Golden Globe and PGA award, Del Toro’s DGA win makes him the favorite for Best Director at the Oscars — but Peele’s win still makes him a strong contender.
Director Michael Apted received the DGA’s honorary life member award while other HBO won big with Jean-Marc Vallee winning for Big Little Lies and Beth McCarthy Miller for Veep. Matthew Heineman who took his second DGA Award home for his documentary City of Ghosts.
I missed posting an entry for the nominees, so I don't have predictions to review, but after looking at the list from Gold Derby, I can say that speculative fiction had another outstanding night, even if it wasn't a complete sweep.  "The Shape of Water" and "Get Out" were the only speculative fiction nominees for Best Feature Film and both won, albeit in different categories.  The other nominees in the category were "Dunkirk," "Lady Bird," and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" -- stiff competition that Del Toro should be pleased to beat, repeatedly.  I'm rooting for him to win Best Director at the Oscars.

Peele's competition included Geremy Jasper for "Patti Cake$," William Oldroyd for "Lady Macbeth," Taylor Sheridan for "Wind River," and Aaron Sorkin for "Molly’s Game."  "Get Out" was the only speculative fiction film nominated, but it was easily the biggest and best.  My next favorite would have been Sorkin based on his abilities as a screenwriter, but that doesn't necessarily translate into directing ability.

All of the nominees for Best Dramatic Series were speculative fiction, once again showing that the top speculative fiction series are indeed among the best on television.  In addition to "The Handmaid's Tale," where Moreno won for the episode "Offred," the Duffer Brothers earned a nomination for the episode "Chapter Nine: The Gate" of "Stranger Things" and three different directors were nominated for different episodes of "Game of Thrones."  I have a feeling that split the vote, allowing "The Handmaid's Tale" to win and Moreno to be the first woman to win both an Emmy and a DGA Award.  Congratulations!

Speculative fiction missed a fourth award for Children's Programs, as Niki Caro won for the episode "Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny" from "Anne with an E," the latest retelling of "Anne of Green Gables."  That book is very realistic and has no fantastic elements beyond Anne's imagination.  As for the other nominees, both "The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special" and "Just Add Magic" were speculative fiction.  I'd have rooted for "Just Add Magic" but predicted "The Magical Wand Chase: A Sesame Street Special" to win.  I'd have been wrong.  The remaining nominees, both "An American Girl Story: Summer Camp" and "15: A Quinceañera Story: Zoey" were girl's coming of age stories as well.  In competition with "Anne with an E," they lost and the classic won.

I plan on writing about the other winners later, after the WGA Awards are announced.  Right now I wish to point out that one category of film was missing, animation.  The animated films and television shows had their own awards ceremony, the Annie Awards.  I'll be writing about them next.

Monday, February 5, 2018

John Oliver on D.C. Statehood

Yesterday, I told my readers to "Stay tuned" as "I'm planning on posting another [John Oliver video] on D.C. Statehood tomorrow, as a follow-up to Vox on Puerto Rico statehood and John Oliver on territories."  Watch Washington DC Statehood: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).

Washington DC experiences taxation without representation. It's also missing from rhyming state songs. John Oliver and a group of singing children fix one of these problems.
If one is in favor of A 51st star for Puerto Rico, then one can also support a 52nd star for Washington, D.C.  It will take more work than statehood for Puerto Rico, as it might require amending the U.S. Constitution if a voting rights bill can't be worked out, but that doesn't mean people shouldn't try.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

John Oliver on stadiums and NFL cheerleaders for Super Bowl Sunday

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!  To celebrate this year's socialist sports spectacular, I'm sharing John Oliver videos for the third day in a row.*  Yes, Last Week Tonight has several videos on football and other pro sports.

I begin with one from four years ago, Workplace of the Week - The NFL: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).

Last Week Tonight explores the exciting world of the NFL! It's a great place for mascots to work. Not so much for cheerleaders.
That was just the warmup act.  Here is the main event, Stadiums: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).

Cities spend massive amounts of public money on privately-owned stadiums. Cities issue tax-exempt municipal bonds that — wait, don’t fall asleep!
When I called the Super Bowl a "socialist sports spectacular," I wasn't just referring to the NFL's compensation for its member teams.  I was also referring to the financing of its stadiums.

It's all enough to drive one to drink, so here are Superbowl Shots Eagles vs Patriots in case one succumbs to the urge.

It wouldn't be a Super Bowl post of mine without a video from Tipsy Bartender.

*I'm planning on posting another on D.C. Statehood tomorrow, as a follow-up to Vox on Puerto Rico statehood and John Oliver on territories.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Vox on Puerto Rico statehood and John Oliver on territories

I wrote "I'm in favor of Puerto Rico becoming a state and have been for decades.  Now that a majority of Puerto Ricans agree, I think it's time that happens" at the end of A 51st star for Puerto Rico on Flag Day.  That hasn't happened yet, as Vox explains Why Puerto Rico is not a US state.

Nearly half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. But they are, and have been since 1917.
As residents of the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans have US passports, can travel freely throughout the country and can serve in the military. But that doesn’t mean the US citizens who live in Puerto Rico get the same rights and benefits as US citizens stateside. Watch the video above to understand how Puerto Rico became a US commonwealth, the tangled relationship that developed, and how it all affects prosperity and development on the island today.
It's not for lack of trying, as Vox reported in Puerto Rico’s most ambitious push yet for statehood, explained.
A "shadow" congressional delegation of seven politicians from Puerto Rico traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and demanded they be recognized as voting members of Congress. Five of them would represent Puerto Rico in the House, and two in the Senate.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló modeled this plan after Alaska’s push for statehood in 1956, and it was a major part of his campaign for governor. (Tennessee was the first territory to use this strategy in 1795, and it's now known as the “Tennessee Plan.”)

The island — plagued by the devastation of Hurricane Maria and still struggling to restore electricity — has been a US territory since 1898 but has long suffered from widespread American indifference toward, or ignorance of, Puerto Rico's situation. When Maria hit, only about half of Americans knew that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. Now, Rosselló and his allies are hoping that the post-hurricane media attention has raised enough awareness of the "second-class" status of Americans in Puerto Rico.

"[Puerto Ricans] are being denied the full benefits of citizenship," said Puerto Rico's only nonvoting member of Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón on the House floor Wednesday. "We deserve and demand statehood for Puerto Rico now."

The move is largely symbolic: Voting on Puerto Rican statehood is nowhere close to the top of Congress’s agenda, but it represents growing frustration over getting Congress to recognize Puerto Rico as a state.

But while members of the island’s delegation are pushing hard for statehood, it’s far from clear that the island itself is united behind the push. And though Congress is unlikely to take up the measure under Republican control, support for Puerto Rican statehood was officially enshrined in the 2016 GOP platform.
Many of these issues were raised in U.S. Territories: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) three years ago.

A set of Supreme Court decisions made over 100 years ago has left U.S. territories without meaningful representation. That's weird, right?
Since this video, the island's plight in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which I mentioned in CDC switches from nuclear war to flu as epidemic declared just before false alarm in Hawaii, has raised the stakes, as Vox observed.
It's possible that Puerto Rican's views of statehood may have shifted in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. More than three months after Maria passed through the island, 40 percent of the island remains without power, and running water is unreliable.

The slow federal response, and President Trump's overall dismissiveness of the disaster, shed new light on the problem of having no real representation in Washington. It meant that Puerto Rico had no role in deciding how much disaster relief money would be allocated to the island, and that Puerto Rico had no say in how the tax bill would affect Puerto Rico.
The pro-statehood Puerto Ricans have decided on a strategy to pressure Congress.
Now Rosselló is threatening to mobilize Puerto Rican voters living in the US on the issue in the midterm elections.

“We are a significant voting bloc in the United States that perhaps hasn’t been organized well in the past,” he told Politico in December. He repeated that same message Wednesday during his latest trip to Washington, DC.
I wish the Governor luck in organizing this effort; he'll need it.  Just the same. I support him.