Sunday, September 30, 2018

Drink mulled cider and watch a squirrel carve a pumpkin for Wester 2018

Happy Wester!  For any new readers who don't yet know the story of Wester, I'm quoting For Winter Solstice 2016, the Archdruid and I discuss Discordianism and fake holidays.
[Me:] Oh, I'm familiar with Discordianism.  I'm single-handedly keeping alive a fake holiday called Wester, which is the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Autumnal Equinox.  When I first posted about it, my Discordian friend claimed it for Discordianism.  As far as I'm concerned, it's still a Discordian holiday.
[Greer:] Pinku-Sensei, yes, I thought I remembered you were a closet Discordian. Wester is funny; presumably that was the day that some messiah or other descended from the living?
[Me:] I agree, Wester is funny.  As for an anointed one descending from the living, sorry, that wasn't part of the Wester story that I heard.  However, the holiday has its own animal mascot, the Wester Squirrel, which goes around and gathers goodies to hide instead of hiding goodies to pass out like the Easter Bunny.
Hence my telling my readers at the end of yesterday's National Coffee Day entry to "Stay tuned for a celebration of Wester, squirrels included" — since one of my readers suggested the mascot, the fake holiday is now associated with squirrels.

Wester is a fall holiday with a squirrel mascot and one of the symbols of fall is the pumpkin, I have a hard time thinking of something more appropriate than watching a squirrel carving its own pumpkin.

Squirrel Carves A Jack-O-Lantern | This SQUIRREL is about to carve a face into a pumpkin to make his very own jack-o-lantern.
How cute, although the squirrel isn't a clever as this video makes it out to be.  Some of the viewers think that peanut butter or maple syrup was smeared on the pumpkin where the squirrel chewed out the eyes, nose, and mouth, and I agree with them.  Still, it was clever on the part of the people involved and make for a fun video to watch.

Today is also National Hot Mulled Cider Day.
National Hot Mulled Cider Day is observed annually on September 30.
Fall welcomes warm mugs of mulled cider wrap our chilled hand around. Such a cozy way to spend an evening, sipping a tart, spiced beverage on a chilly evening while gazing at trees ablaze in crimson, gold, and orange.  It is the perfect time to celebrate this holiday and enjoy this delightful drink.
Hot Mulled Cider is a traditional fall and winter drink made by heating cider to almost boiling and adding cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, cloves and other spices and then simmering it. Just the scent of it steeping on the stove will warm the home and lift the spirits of everyone in it.
Since this is a non-alcoholic drink, Tipsy Bartender is not the appropriate source.  Instead, watch Jamie's Mulled Cider | Jamie Oliver.

If you're looking for something a bit different to the classic Mulled Wine, have a look at Jamie's Mulled Cider.
It's a little too sugary for me to drink because of my diabetes, but it looks and sounds delicious.  May my readers enjoy drinking it even more than I did watching it!

I hope everyone had a happy Wester.  The next fake holiday I plan on celebrating will be a blue Norther on Festivus.  Feats of strength and airing of grievances around the Festivus pole!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Celebrate National Coffee Day by contributing to Coffee Party USA

Happy National Coffee Day!
Whether getting one to go or lingering over a second cup, on September 29 be sure to observe National Coffee Day!
In addition to my readers celebrating by having a cup or two of their favorite coffee, some of which can be had at a discount or even free today (videos listing locations over the jump), they can match my $10 donation to Coffee Party USA that I made today by making a donation of $10.00 or more.  It will go to improving our website, the new version of which Coffee Party USA are currently beta testing, finding Voter Buddies to help people register and get to the polls, registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day, and organizing local community groups.  It's an election year, and Coffee Party USA is doing our part to get people involved and ready to vote this November.  Donate and you can help in that effort.  If that's not enough, my readers can become a member or volunteer.  Coffee Party USA needs people to help with all the projects listed above and then some, as we plan on doing even more to empowers and connects communities to reclaim our government for the people in the future.

If this appeal looks familiar, it's because I wrote similar ones for Irish Coffee Day, National Nonprofit Day, and National Coffee Ice Cream Day earlier this year.  In addition to being a director and officer of Coffee Party USA (full disclosure), I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.

Coffee Party on!

Follow over the jump for three videos to celebrate National Coffee Day, including two that list locations where one can get discounts and free coffee today.

Friday, September 28, 2018

14 nominations for 12 reports about Las Vegas Massacre and other mass shootings at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards

I've already promised to write entries about the nominees examining the opoid crisis and the Syrian Civil War.  I plan on writing one about the nominees reporting on mass shootings as well.  Stay tuned.
That was my promise in the footnote to 'Chasing Coral' versus 'Yosemite' — two nominees for Outstanding Nature Documentary both examine climate change, which I wrote in response to mentioning "Tower."
For their third nominated category, both "Chasing Coral" and "Yosemite" are competing for Outstanding Music & Sound along with the HBO Documentary Films "Cries From Syria" and "The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble" and the "Independent Lens" episode "Tower."  The most formidable overall are "Cries from Syria," which also has nominations for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary, Outstanding Writing, and Outstanding Research, and "Tower," about the first mass school shooting in U.S. history at the University of Texas, which earned a nomination for Outstanding Historical Documentary as well.
Joining "Tower" in competing for Outstanding Historical Documentary are Independent Lens episode "Birth of a Movement" and the Netflix documentaries "Cuba and the Cameraman," "Let It Fall: Los Angeles: 1982-1992," and "Blood On The Mountain."  Other than "Tower," the only other nominee in this category with a second nomination is "Let It Fall: Los Angeles: 1982-1992," which has a nomination for Outstanding Research.  Based on that and my including it in The most honored political documentaries of 2017 examine crime, injustice, and the Syrian Civil War, I consider it to be the strongest competition to "Tower" for Outstanding Historical Documentary.  As for its chances to win its second nominated category, I'm recycling what I wrote: "I suspect 'The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble' might be the fiercest competitor for Outstanding Music & Sound; it also earned nominations for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary and Outstanding Editing: Documentary."

To get a feel for the documentary and the incident it portrays, watch the trailer from PBS.

Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, TOWER reveals the action-packed, untold stories of the witnesses, heroes, and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, at the University of Texas, 1966, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Speaking of the nominees for Outstanding Editing: Documentary, one of the two nominated episodes of Showtime's "Active Shooter: America Under Fire" earned a nomination in this category for "Columbine, Colorado," which is about the most infamous mass school shooting of the 20th Century.  Joining it and "The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble" are RYOT's "Fear Us Women," HBO Documentary Films' "Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison," and "Life, Animated."  I've already called "Life, Animated" tough competition, as it is also nominated for Best Documentary and is competing against "The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble" for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary, where I consider "Life, Animated" to be the strongest contender for this award.

The other nominated episode of "Active Shooter: America Under Fire" is "Charleston, South Carolina," which is competing for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary with the "Frontline" episode "Last Days of Solitary," two HBO Documentary Films, "Abortion: Stories Women Tell" and "Unlocking the Cage," and fellow Showtime documentary "Jackson."  I am finding it difficult to handicap this category, as these are the only nominations for each fo these shows.  That written, my sympathies lie with "Unlocking the Cage," which is about animal rights for chimpanzees, which echoes the themes of PETA attempts a science-fiction solution to a real-world issue and The ethics of orcas as entertainment.

As for "Active Shooter: America Under Fire," watch its tralier from Showtime.

The traumatic events of infamous mass shootings and their aftermath.
Whether due to acts of terrorism, hate, or mental instability, mass shootings have become all too commonplace. Active Shooter: America Under Fire is a documentary series that examines this disturbing phenomenon from the points of view of victims, family members, emergency medical workers and first responders, who bravely risk their own lives in the face of grave danger. Each episode recounts a specific incident using archival footage and in-depth interviews to shine a spotlight on the traumatic events and their aftermath. The results are powerful, eye-opening, and hopefully change-inducing.
While I find all the above nominees to be deserving, they are not the reason why mass shootings became a top news topic of 2017.  That is because of the Las Vegas Massacre, the coverage of which earned eight nominations for eight entries.  Combined with the two nominations each for "Tower" and "Active Shooter: America Under Fire"  plus nominations for coverage of the Sutherland Springs shooting and the Attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, that's a total of fourteen nominations for twelve news and documentary programs, making this the second most nominated news story this year next to the Syrian Civil War with 22 nominations for 14 nominees ETA: 17 nominations for 11 nominees.*  Follow over the jump for my discussion of the nominees covering the Las Vegas Massacre, the Sutherland Springs shooting, and the attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Coverage of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria nominated for News and Documentary Emmy Awards

I noted in 'Charlottesville: Race and Terror' tied for most nominations at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards that "Mass shootings, hurricanes, and Syria dominated the news last year, so it's no surprise they dominate the nominations and I plan on writing about all the nominees about them."  I made a down payment on nominated hurricane coverage in Hurricane Harvey: Student Sustainability Video Festival 78, which included a video report from The Washington Post, which earned a News & Documentary Emmy nomination for Outstanding Breaking News Coverage for its coverage of the 2017 Hurricane Season.  It's time to pay the balance on my promise regarding coverage of hurricanes and other severe weather from last year.

The nominees for Outstanding Breaking News Coverage include CNN's Worldwide Hurricane Coverage, so this category includes two nominees that covered the hurricane season.  The rest consist of ABC News: The Las Vegas Massacre and CNN's coverage of the Fall of Raqqa and the Manchester Concert Attack.  As I wrote, mass shootings, hurricanes, and Syria dominated the news, so they're dominating the news nominations.  Since I already embedded a video from The Washington Post, I'm embedding one from CNN: What Hurricane Harvey left behind.

A week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, CNN drove from Corpus Christi to four other cities to see the destruction it left behind.
There is more coverage of Harvey nominated in the next category, Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast, where The Weather Channel's Live Coverage of Hurricane Harvey is nominated alongside "Charlottesville: Race and Terror," "BBC World News: Fierce Fight for Mosul," "CBS News: Las Vegas Massacre," and "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: Las Vegas Massacre."  I'm pretty sure that "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" has the inside track, but that won't stop me from embedding Incredible: Dog Rescued on Roof during Harvey, to match the footage of Harvey the Cooper's Hawk in last month's entry.

For my readers who are wondering about coverage of Hurricane Maria, Univision's "Primer Impacto: Unidos en el Dolor: Huracán María en Puerto Rico (United in Pain: Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico)" and Univision's "Aquí y Ahora: Un doble golpe (Double Impact)" both earned nominations for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in Spanish.  Competing against them are another report from Univision's Aquí y Ahora, "Terror en Las Vegas (Terror in Las Vegas)" (sometimes the news looks the same in both English and Spanish, even if it sounds different), and two about the Mexican earthquake, "CNN en Español: Terremoto en México (Mexico Earthquake)," and "Noticiero Telemundo: Terremoto en México (Earthquake in Mexico)."  Since it covers both Hurricane Maria and the earthquake, I am sharing Aquí y Ahora: Doble Golpe | Promo | Univision.

Next, Las primeras imágenes que se conocen de los daños causados por el huracán María en Puerto Rico (The first images that are known of the damages caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico).

El periodista de Univision Galo Arellano muestra desde San Juan que algunas, construidas con madera, sufrieron daños en los techos y paredes. (Univision reporter Galo Arellano shows from San Juan that some [structures], built with wood, suffered damage to the ceilings and walls.)
That's a different perspective than I've taken on the disaster, as I'ved looked at it through the lenses of Puerto Rico Statehood and last year's flu epidemic.  It's about time I examined the damage itself, instead of its secondary effects.

The final nomination for coverage of last year's hurricanes honors WJXT-TV's Hurricane Damage (Jacksonville, FL) from Hurricane Irma, thus completing the trio of major storms that made landfall in the U.S.  Competing against it for Outstanding Regional News Story: Spot News is another nominee that covered severe weather, WLS-TV's "ABC7 Eyewitness News at 4pm" (Chicago, IL) on "Deadly Tornadoes," along with reports from WJZY-TV's FOX46 10 p.m. & Digital Coverage (Charlotte, NC) on the Charlotte Protest, WPLG-TV's "Local 10 News at 11:00" (Miami, FL) on the Attack at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (another mass shooting to cover), and KTAZ-TV's "Noticiero Telemundo Arizona" (Phoenix, AZ) on Black Lives Matter Protest Crew Pepper Sprayed.  Since today's entry is about hurricanes, I conclude today's entry with WJXT Irma Montage, only the second time I've mentioned Hurricane Irma on this blog; the first was merely in passing.

This reminds me that I have only mentioned Hurricane Florence once.  I'll see if I can get around to examining the damage.  If not, I'm sure I'll be posting about its coverage when I write about next year's News and Documentary Emmy nominees.  In the meantime, stay tuned for more about this year's nominees.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

'Charlottesville: Race and Terror' tied for most nominations at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards

I mentioned that I would write about last August's Weimar moment in Charlottesville in Putin and Trump-Russia at the Emmy Awards last month.  I then forgot about it until I reposted the entry at Booman Tribune and noticed that I had written "'The Wounds of War' and 'Cries from Syria' are probably the toughest competition, as both have four nominations each, tied for the most nominations for any single entry with 'Charlottesville: Race and Terror' by Vice News Tonight" and "I'll be looking more at this category when I examine the nominees about Syria and Charlottesville."  It's time to follow through with an examination of "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" by Vice News Tonight, which is nominated for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast, Best Story in a Newscast, Outstanding Video Journalism: News, and Outstanding Editing: News.

Competing against "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" for Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a Newscast are "BBC World
News: Fierce Fight for Mosul," "CBS News: Las Vegas Massacre," "Live Coverage of Hurricane Harvey" by The Weather Channel, and "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt: Las Vegas Massacre."  Mass shootings, hurricanes, and Syria dominated the news last year, so it's no surprise they dominate the nominations and I plan on writing about all the nominees about them.  However, this is the only category in which any of the four competing entries earned a nomination, so I think Vice News Tonight did a better job of producing "Charlottesville: Race and Terror."

On the other hand, the nominees for Best Story in a Newscast all have nominations in another category.  "Anderson Cooper 360°: Kids for Sale," "CBS This Morning: U.S. Air Force Academy Sexual Assault," and "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: Libya Slave Auction" are nominated for Outstanding Investigative Report in a Newscast, while "World News Tonight with David Muir and Nightline: The Unwanted" has a nomination for Outstanding Hard News Feature Story in a Newscast.  Still, none of them also have nominations outside of these two categories other than "Charlottesville: Race and Terror," so I suspect it has the inside track.

"Charlottesville: Race and Terror" finally runs into one of the other entries with four nominations in the field for Outstanding Video Journalism: News, where it is competing against "60 Minutes: The Wounds of War," which is about the Syrian Civil War.  That makes for an intriguing match-up.  The other nominees in this category include "BBC World News America: Fight For Raqqa – Darren Conway," CNN's "Global Warning: Arctic Melt," and "Vox Borders," none of which have other nominations.  Yeah, I think this contest is between Charlottesville and Syria.

The competition for Outstanding Editing: News appears just as stiff, as Al Jazeera International USA's "Fault Lines: Heroin's Children" has two other nominations for Outstanding Science, Medical and Environmental Report and Best Story in a Newsmagazine.  The other nominees, "50 Years of 60 Minutes" and fellow "VICE News Tonight" reports "Battle for Marawi: On the Hunt for ISIS Militants" and "Libya: Intercepting Migrants," only have nominations in this category.  My take is that the contest for this award is between Charlottesville and opiates/opioids.

The entire episode is on YouTube: Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News Tonight on HBO.

On Saturday hundreds of white nationalists, alt-righters, and neo-Nazis traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia to participate in the “Unite the Right” rally. By Saturday evening three people were dead – one protester, and two police officers – and many more injured.

“VICE News Tonight” correspondent Elle Reeve went behind the scenes with white nationalist leaders, including Christopher Cantwell, Robert Ray, David Duke, and Matthew Heimbach — as well as counter-protesters. VICE News Tonight also spoke with residents of Charlottesville, members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Charlottesville Police.

From the neo-Nazi protests at Emancipation Park to Cantwell’s hideaway outside of Virginia, “VICE News Tonight” provides viewers with exclusive, up close and personal access inside the unrest.
That's a scary look at what a Weimar moment looks like in 21st Century America.

CNN also has a nominee examining Charlottesville.  "The Morning After Charlottesville" from "State of the Union with Jake Tapper" on CNN is contending for Outstanding News Discussion & Analysis.  Competing against it are "Special Counsel Appointed to Oversee Trump-Russia Investigation" from "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC, "All In America: Chicago" from "All In with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, "NFL Town Hall: Patriotism, The Players and The President" from "Anderson Cooper 360o" on CNN, and "High Alert: North Korea" from "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on ABC.  Here is one of the segments from the show CNN has uploaded to YouTube: Charlottesville mayor's full CNN interview.

Charlottesville, Virginia, Mayor Mike Signer discusses with CNN's Jake Tapper his city's reaction to the violent clashes between white nationalists and counterprotesters.
Good for you, Mayor Signer.

I'll return tomorrow with more about the nominees for the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

'Chasing Coral' versus 'Yosemite' — two nominees for Outstanding Nature Documentary both examine climate change

I made an easy prediction in 'Chasing Coral': awards and nominations and looking forward to next year's Emmys 4 last December.
I expect I'll be able to tell my students about "Chasing Coral" earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nature Documentary next summer and its likely win in the fall.  I'm looking forward to that.
That happened, as "Chasing Coral" earned a nomination for Outstanding Nature Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards along with nominations in two other categories, Best Documentary and Outstanding Music & Sound.  It is competing with "Putin's Revenge" on Frontline, "The Witness" from Independent Lens, "Life, Animated," an Oscar nominee for Documentary Feature in 2017, and "My Love, Don't Cross That River" from POV for Best Documentary.  Out of that field, I'm rooting for "Chasing Coral," but "Life, Animated" is very tough competition.

That written, both "Chasing Coral" and "Last Men in Aleppo" have already won a prestigious award for documentaries, the Peabody Award.  Here is the award profile for "Chasing Coral."
Climate change is often described as a slow-moving catastrophe, a serious yet distant threat. “Chasing Coral,” a Netflix documentary, upends that comfortable premise. As waters warm, coral reefs starve, with massive bleaching events occurring at record pace unseen beneath the waves. Approximately 90 percent of coral reefs may be lost over the coming decades. “Chasing Coral” dramatically illuminates this ongoing disaster, first immersing the audience in the gorgeous and diverse marine world that is the Great Barrier Reef, and then documenting—using underwater time-lapse cameras invented specifically for the project—how vast swaths of it die. The emotional impact is heightened by watching a team of passionate scientists and idealistic young assistants witness the bleaching event, which suggests nothing less than a kind of underwater holocaust. Somehow, in spite of the scope of the tragedy, the documentary nevertheless remains hopeful, calling for engagement and urging action. For bringing climate change and its deadly consequences into sharp and immediate focus, “Chasing Coral” wins a Peabody Award.
And now, director Jeff Orlowski's acceptance speech.

This surprisingly emotional film expertly documents, through time-lapse underwater photographs, the effects of climate change on the rapid decimation of the world’s coral reefs, events known as coral bleaching that affected 29 percent of the shallow-water coral in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 alone.
"A story that matters because the Earth matters" — indeed, it is.

Follow over the jump for the other nominees competing against "Chasing Coral" in the other two categories.

Monday, September 24, 2018

'Abacus,' 'Edith and Eddie,' 'Heroin(e),' and 'Last Men in Aleppo' — Oscar nominees at the 2018 News and Documentary Emmy Awards

Last March, I predicted that "both 'Jane' and 'Abacus' will be eligible for News and Documentary Emmy Awards this fall, where they will be favored in their categories."  I was right about "Jane," which earned seven nominations two awards at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.  Now it's time to observe that I was right about "Abacus" earning a nomination for Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  Joining it are three other Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature or Best Documentary Short Subject, "Edith and Eddie," "Heroin(e)," and "Last Men in Aleppo," all of which I have written about before.  Along with "Icarus" and "Strong Island," that means that four of the five nominees for Best Documentary Feature and two of the five nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject have also been nominated for an Emmy.  Both the films and their fellow nominees should be impressed.

I begin my review of the nominees with what I wrote about "Abacus" late last year.
"Abacus: Small Enough to Jail," has won four awards from the shows and programs I am using, including Best Political Documentary from the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.  The Guardian review explains why it belongs here.
Veteran documentary-maker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) is back with an engrossing story: the extraordinary fiasco of the Abacus bank prosecution. It is a tale of hypocrisy, judicial bullying and racism. Abacus was a small neighbourhood bank serving New York’s Chinese community, which discovered a crooked employee falsifying mortgage documents, duly reported the matter to the authorities, but then found itself prosecuted by a district attorney who had sniffed a post-2008 PR opportunity to collar some real live bankers.
"Model minority" or not, Asian-Americans experience systemic racism, too.
Watch Abacus: Small Enough to Jail - Trailer for a preview.

From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), Academy Award® Nominee Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank's legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.
Competing against "Abacus" for Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary are "Farewell Ferris Wheel" and "Vegas Baby" from "America Reframed" on World, "The Bad Kids" from "Independent Lens" on PBS and "Saving Capitalism" on Netflix.  Of all of them, I think "Saving Capitalism" is the strongest competition for "Abacus," as it won Best Political Documentary at the Coffee Party Entertainment Awards for movies.  Looks like my fellow directors and volunteers at Coffee Party USA were on to something when they voted for Robert Reich's film, giving it its first nomination and award.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the double nominees.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

'The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story' is the big winner among limited series at the Emmy Awards

I told my readers to "stay tuned" as I would "return with more Emmy blogging after Talk like a Pirate Day" at the end of 'Black Mirror' USS Callister wins Outstanding Television Movie plus three other Emmy AwardsTalk Like a Pirate Day has passed, followed by an unplanned break for my birthday, so this week's Sunday entertainment feature comes at the perfect time to deliver on my promise by revisiting the predictions I made in Crime and punishment a major theme of Limited Series nominees at the Emmy Awards for National Wildlife Day, where I identified the common thread among nearly all the nominees and its significance when I wrote "stories of crime and punishment usually involve law enforcement and the courts, they tell their own tales about the roles and actions of government."

I begin with the big winner, "The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story."
I consider this season of "American Crime Story" to be the favorite to win Outstanding Limited Series, as it has the most nominations, won Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials at the TCA Awards last month, and its predecessor, "The People v. O. J. Simpson," won this award two years ago.  I also think that Darren Criss has the best chance of winning of all six acting nominees, having been nominated at both the TCA Awards and the MTV Movie and TV Awards, a rare confluence of critical and popular opinion.
"The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" won seven of the thirteen awards it could have, Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss, Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, Outstanding Contemporary Costumes, Outstanding Hairstyling for a Limited Series or Movie, and Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie (Non-Prosthetic).  Watch as The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Wins Outstanding Limited Series on NBC.

Ryan Murphy from The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story accepts the award for Outstanding Limited Series.
Murphy's point about prejudice and hate crimes puts this mini-series into the kind of broader perspective that makes it a worthy examination of American society and history beyond merely an entertaining true story about crime and punishment.

While I called "The Assassination Of Gianni Versace" as the winner of Outstanding Limited Series, I did not actually call Darren Criss winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.  True, I did wrote that "Darren Criss [had] the best chance of winning of all six acting nominees," but I actually called for Jeff Daniels instead.  That was not my first instinct, which was Criss, and I should have stuck with it.  On that note, watch as Darren Criss Wins Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 70th Emmy Awards on NBC.

Darren Criss from The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story accepts the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
I went with Daniels because he grew up here.  If I had known that Criss had gone to the University of Michigan, I would definitely have picked him.  Go Blue!

"Godless" has the distinction of earning the next most Emmy Awards with three.  Here are my predictions.
The strongest nominees are probably Jeff Daniels, who earned acting nominations at the Critics' Choice Awards and SAG Awards, and Scott Frank, who earned a writing nomination from the WGA and a directing nomination from the DGA.  My favorite though, is the main title theme.
"Godless" won Outstanding Main Title Theme Music.  I'm glad, as it was my favorite new theme music this year, too.  As to whether I actually called it, I don't care.  It was the one I was rooting for.  One can catch the tail end of it as Jeff Daniels Wins Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 70th Emmy Awards.

Jeff Daniels from Godless accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
I did call Daniels winning this award, as I did say he was among the strongest nominees from the mini-series and wrote that it would be between him and Michael Stuhlbarg.  He certainly gave a funny acceptance speech and I'm pleased that he won, but not nearly as pleased as wishing more than calling the next catgory.
I'll go out on a limb and pick Wever, who I enjoyed when she was on "The Walking Dead" and I wish was still there, as she lasted much longer in the comic.  When her character died, I thought, "No!  You idiots just killed off the only character in the show whose performer in the cast who has won an Emmy!"  Winning for "Godless" would make up for that.
I don't know about Wever, but it did for me.  Watch Merritt Wever Wins Outstanding Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie at the 70th Emmy Awards.

Merritt Wever from Godless accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
While I thought she deserved it, I'm not sure she did.  That's O.K., your fans love you.

While the Emmy voters rewarded my hopes for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, they completely surprised me in the next category.
The nominees in this category [Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie] have the least overlap with those in Outstanding Limited Series, as only "Godless" appears in both, while "The Tale" is a Television Movie nominee.  These are the only nominations for "The Sinner," "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders," and "Seven Seconds"...I find this another difficult category to pick, as Laura Dern, Edie Falco, and Sarah Paulson are all previous Emmy winners, Michelle Dockery and Regina King have multiple Emmy nominations, and Jessica Biel gave a riveting performance in the first season of "The Sinner."  While Paulson is the only prior winner in this category, Dern won an Emmy last year and probably gave the most compelling performance, so I'll choose her as the favorite.
I completely blew it.  Instead, watch Regina King Win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie at the 70th Emmy Awards.

Regina King from Seven Seconds accepts the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
While she seems as surprised as I was — she probably expected Dern to win, too — I've seen her work over the years, especially in "The Leftovers," and thought she deserved her award.  He win also highlighted a related theme to that of "The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story," the effect of prejudice and tolerance for expressions of it in our society.

That written, congratulations to you and all the acting winners for limited series!  Follow over the jump for the limited series that won Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rhinos and gorillas but no elephants at the Detroit Zoo for the Autumnal Equinox

Happy Autumnal Equinox!   Last year, I wrote about national days celebrating elephants, hobbits, and being car free on the equinox, but it turns out that was not even the half of it for this day.  National Day Calendar lists 15 national days for September 22, 2018, quite a few of which are on-topic for this blog.  However, I'm going to begin with one not on their list.

My wife pointed out last month that today is World Rhino Day.
World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year! This special day provides the opportunity for cause-related organizations, NGOs, zoos, and members of the public to celebrate rhinos in their own unique ways.
We plan on celebrating by going to the Detroit Zoo, which is observing the day, too.

Southern white rhinoceroses Jasiri, 18, and Tamba, 17, will be celebrated – along with their wild counterparts – during World Rhino Day on Saturday, September 22, at the Detroit Zoo. Matt Yurus reports.
Yesterday was my birthday, so this also serves as a birthday party for me.  I've already paid for a joint membership for my wife and me, something I promised I would do four years ago and again three years ago.  Took me long enough.

The Detroit Zoo no longer has elephants, but I can still observe National Elephant Appreciation Day in their absence, as elephants are one of the few animals that longer in the wild than in captivity.  They are better off in either in captivity or in a zoo that can take better care of them.  Also, Monday is World Gorilla Day and the Detroit Zoo has gorillas close by the rhinos.  My wife and I will celebrate that day early today as well.

Normally, I'd write about National Hunting and Fishing Day and National Public Lands Day in addition to recycling Car Free Day and Hobbit Day, but I have a date to go on, which means I definitely will skip Car Free Day.  Buses stop at the Detroit Zoo, but they don't pass by my house, so my wife and I will drive.  Next year.  In the meantime, I wish my readers a happy Autumnal Equinox if they are in the Northern Hemisphere and a happy Vernal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and hope those of you who can go to your local zoo do so to see the rhinos, gorillas, and elephants.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Vox explains how social media contributes to polarization and promotes trolls, conspiracy theorists, and fake news

In June, Vox explained how Russian trolls weaponized social media.  In July, Vox explained how not to get phished (like the DNC).  Today, Vox followed up on both by explaining Why every social media site is a dumpster fire.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube exploit our tribalism to keep us watching ads. That makes them a perfect target for trolls, conspiracy theorists, and con artists.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are built to cater to the base preferences and desires of their users -- figuring out what information people enjoy with and then showing them more of it. That’s a great way to keep people online, but it also makes these platforms prime target for con artists. People are naturally drawn to inflammatory and sensational news stories, regardless of whether or not they're true. So bad actors -- conspiracy theorists, trolls, and fake news writers -- have been tremendously successful in using these platforms to spread false and divisive content that exploit people’s tribal instincts.

In 2016, it was Macedonian teens making thousands of dollars publishing inflammatory fake stories about Hillary Clinton. After the Parkland shooting, it was random YouTubers going viral by accusing students of being crisis actors. Even the Russian trolls who meddled in the presidential election did so by posting low-quality, highly emotional content to social media -- content they knew would go viral.

The problem with these social media sites isn’t that a few bad apples are ruining the fun. It’s that they’re designed to reward bad apples. And as long as con artists can use these platforms to prey on people’s most base desires, social media sites will continue reflecting the worst of human nature back at us.
Promoting engagement is a feature.  So are the partisan media bubbles.  The trolls, conspiracy theorists, and scam artists, along with the fake news they spread, are bugs — I hope.  Seeker explains how television entertainment can shape our political opinions mentioned one of the best ways to fight them — consume a variety of news media in order to get a diversity of viewpoints instead of staying inside a partisan media bubble.  Time for me to follow my own advice and read The Wall Street Journal, the only news source both liberals and conservatives think is unbiased.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hot Mess explains how climate change makes hurricanes stronger

With Hurricane Florence in the news, flooding Virginia and the Carolinas and killing 37 people so far, it's time to revisit the topic of hurricanes and particularly Hurricane Harvey with Hot Mess asking Why Are Hurricanes Getting Stronger?

It’s impossible to say that climate change is responsible for any individual storm or hurricane, but climate change is making these storms stronger. How much stronger? It turns out, Hurricane Harvey is the ideal test case to measure how a warming planet and warming oceans, amplify our worst storms.
This is not a new observation.  Al Gore made it in "An Inconvenient Truth" when he explained that global warming would make hurricanes stronger.  In my worksheet for the movie, I ask my students to "explain how the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons fit with predictions based on global warming."  A decade later, reality continues to confirm those predictions.

I plan on returning to blogging about the Emmy winners tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Captain vs. The Kraken for Talk Like a Pirate Day

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!  I have just the drink from Tipsy Bartender for today, The Captain vs The Kraken.

Captain Morgan vs. Kraken!! Bombs away!
Of course, I have a song from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies to go along with this concoction, The Kraken.

The Kraken (Score)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
With a drink and a song, I'm done.  Once again, Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

'Black Mirror: USS Callister' wins Outstanding Television Movie plus three other Emmy Awards

The Primetime Emmy Awards were last night, so it's time to start blogging about the winners, beginning with "Black Mirror: USS Callister," which won Outstanding Television Movie, an award I called.
I begin with the most nominated yet possibly the most distant from actual government, "USS Callister," an episode of the Netflix anthology series "Black Mirror."  Its Wikipedia entry sketches out the scenario for abuse well enough.  The bolding is mine, and shows how "USS Callister" fits the theme of abusive authority shared by all the Television Movie nominees.
The episode follows Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons), a reclusive but gifted programmer and co-founder of a popular massive multiplayer online game who is bitter over the lack of recognition of his position from his coworkers. He takes out his frustrations by simulating a Star Trek-like space adventure within the game, using his co-workers' DNA to create sentient digital clones of them. Acting as the captain of the USS Callister starship, Daly is able to order his co-workers around, submit them to his will, and mistreat them if they get out of line. When Daly brings newly hired Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) into his game, she encourages the other copies to revolt against Daly.
Yikes!  I would not want to play this game if it existed.  If the co-founder is willing to do this to his employees, imagine what he'd do to mere players!

I consider "USS Callister" to be the front runner based on its number of Emmy nominations, seven, and "Black Mirror" being what passes for a returning winner, as the episode "San Junipero" won this category last year.  In addition to Outstanding Television Movie, "USS Callister" earned nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Jesse Plemons as Robert Daly, Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie or Special, and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special.  Before I move on, I am reminding my readers that "San Junipero" only had two Emmy nominations, although it won both of them, the other being Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special.  "USS Callister" might be that much better.
Apparently, it is.  Not only was it nominated for eight awards, it won four of them, twice what "San Junipero" did.  It also had more of a political point than I gathered, as Charlie Brooker makes in Emmy winning producers and cast of "USS Callister (Black Mirror)" 2018 Creative Arts Emmys.

"It's quite odd actually that we're in the fiction category, because we're a story about a misogynist bully with a bizarre haircut who is put in a position of authority he shouldn't be in.  Never happen."  Zing!

Brooker talked about being in the room with stars from all six "Star Trek" series, who were there to accept the Governor's Award on behalf of the franchise, and how surreal the experience was.  He did so again in the next clip, 70th Emmy Awards: Backstage LIVE! with William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, in which he cleaned up his language a bit.

This was the award the show's writers won last night, one that I failed to mention in Crime and punishment a major theme of Limited Series nominees at the Emmy Awards for National Wildlife Day, concentrating on the limited series nominated in the category.  I didn't do that for any of the rest of its nominations.  Oops.  I probably should have called this one for "USS Callister," as "San Junipero" won this award last year.

Returning to last week's ceremony, here's the clip for the third award, Emmy winning sound editing team ("USS Callister (Black Mirror)") 2018 Creative Arts Emmys Press Room.

I would have had trouble calling this award, as "USS Callister" was competing against "American Horror Story: Cult," "Fahrenheit 451," "Godless," "Twin Peaks," and "Waco."  I would probably have gone with "Twin Peaks."  Just the same, this award went to a speculative fiction nominee, so I'm happy.

The final award was for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited Series or Movie, Emmy winner Selina MacArthur ("USS Callister (Black Mirror)") 2018 Creative Arts Emmys Press Room.

"USS Callister" was competing with three episodes of "The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" and one of "Twin Peaks," and I might have gone with "Twin Peaks" again.  Good thing I didn't take the opportunity to be wrong.  Just the same, congratulations to the crew of the "USS Callister," both the actors and the actual film crew!

I'll return with more Emmy blogging after Talk like a Pirate Day.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Speculative fiction movie and television first-round nominees at the 2018 People's Choice Awards

I told my readers to "stay tuned for an entry about the People's Choice Awards nominees" to conclude Diversity and speculative fiction in dramas at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards.  Here are the categories that include speculative fiction first-round nominees for movies and television from Wikipedia along with my choices.
The Movie of 2018

Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Fifty Shades Freed
Incredibles 2
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ocean's 8
A Quiet Place
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
A Wrinkle in Time
It's easier to pick out the non-speculative fiction movies from this field than to list the speculative fiction ones — "Fifty Shades Freed," "Mission: Impossible – Fallout," and "Ocean's 8."  Even the last two are genre films nominated under action, which means I'm likely to see both on the Saturn Awards ballot next May.  This shows how strong speculative fiction movies are, at least for the first nine months of the year, before movies meant for the Oscars show up in theaters.  Speaking of which, I'm voting for the current box office leader, "Black Panther."  I also think it has a good chance of winning with its main competition being "Avengers: Infinity War."

There are no speculative fiction nominees for The Comedy Movie of 2018, but three stand out, "Book Club," "Crazy Rich Asians," and "Game Night."  That last might be nominated for Best Action Movie along with "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" and "Ocean's 8" at the Saturn Awards.  On the other hand, my favorite of the three is "Book Club," so I'm voting for it but I think "Crazy Rich Asians" will win.  Speaking of which, I plan on voting for Awkwafina for The Comedy Movie Star of 2018 even though I think Constance Wu or Tiffany Haddish will likely win.
The Action Movie of 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
The Equalizer 2
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
The Meg
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ocean's 8
Ready Player One
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Again, it's easier to pick out the non-speculative fiction movies from this field than to list the speculative fiction ones — "The Equalizer 2," "Mission: Impossible – Fallout" and "Ocean's 8."  The rest are superhero and science fiction movies, although I suspect "Rampage," a video game movie, might be classified as fantasy at next year's Saturn Awards.  Again, my choice for this award is the same as for The Movie of 2018, "Black Panther."
The Drama Movie of 2018

12 Strong
The 15:17 to Paris
Breaking In
Fifty Shades Freed
The First Purge
Midnight Sun
A Quiet Place
Red Sparrow
Despite this being the most mainstream and "serious" of the categories, three of these movies are still speculative fiction, "Annihilation," "The First Purge," and "A Quiet Place," the latter two of which are horror movies and the first is a science fiction film that plays like a horror film.  My favorite is "A Quiet Place," so I'm voting for it.  I also plan on voting for it next year for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards.
The Family Movie of 2018

A Wrinkle in Time
Christopher Robin
Early Man
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
I Can Only Imagine
Incredibles 2
Paddington 2
Peter Rabbit
Sherlock Gnomes
Show Dogs
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Other than "I Can Only Imagine," all of these movies are speculative fiction, mostly fantasy or animation with the exception of the science fiction film "A.X.L."  Out of all of them, the box office leader and personal favorite is "Incredibles 2," which I think will repeat the accomplishments of "Coco" by winning every award for which it is nominated, including Best Animated Film at the Saturn Awards.  I'm voting for it now and I'll vote for it then.
The Drama Movie Star of 2018

Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
Jamie Dornan – Fifty Shades Freed
Chris Hemsworth – 12 Strong
John Krasinski – A Quiet Place
Jennifer Lawrence – Red Sparrow
Ewan McGregor – Christopher Robin
Natalie Portman – Annihilation
Gina Rodriguez – Annihilation
John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
Oprah Winfrey – A Wrinkle in Time
Reese Witherspoon – A Wrinkle in Time
Shailene Woodley – Adrift
Since my favorite "drama" film is "A Quiet Place," I'm voting for my favorite star from the move, which is Emily Blunt.  Sorry, John Krasinski, I liked your wife's performance better.
The Male Movie Star of 2018

Chadwick Boseman – Black Panther
John Boyega – Pacific Rim Uprising
Pierce Brosnan – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Robert Downey Jr. – Avengers: Infinity War
Chris Hemsworth – Avengers: Infinity War
Dwayne Johnson – Skyscraper
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
Chris Pratt – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool 2
Nick Robinson – Love, Simon
Paul Rudd – Ant-Man and the Wasp
By the logic above that drove me to vote for Emily Blunt, I should vote for Chadwick Boseman.  I'm not.  He will probably still win, but I enjoyed Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool far more, so I'm voting for him.
The Female Movie Star of 2018

Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
Sandra Bullock – Ocean's 8
Anne Hathaway – Ocean's 8
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Lily James – Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Scarlett Johansson – Avengers: Infinity War
Jennifer Lawrence – Red Sparrow
Evangeline Lilly – Ant-Man and the Wasp
Leslie Mann – Blockers
Melissa McCarthy – Life of the Party
Oprah Winfrey – A Wrinkle in Time
Reese Witherspoon – A Wrinkle in Time
Oprah Winfrey has the biggest name, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lawrence have both won Oscars, and Scarlett Johansson has the only nomination from the highest grossing movie with a nominee in this category, but I'm not voting for any of them.  Instead, its Emily Blunt.  I hope to see her on the list of nominees for Best Actress in a Film at next year's Saturn Awards, where she's the front runner for my vote so far.
The Action Movie Star of 2018

Chadwick Boseman – Black Panther
Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Donald Glover – Solo: A Star Wars Story
Danai Gurira – Black Panther
Chris Hemsworth – Avengers: Infinity War
Scarlett Johansson – Avengers: Infinity War
Dwayne Johnson – Rampage
Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
Evangeline Lilly – Ant-Man and the Wasp
Chris Pratt – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool 2
Alicia Vikander – Tomb Raider
I'm voting for Ryan Reynolds again here, although I think either Chadwick Boseman or Chris Hemsworth will win.

Follow over the jump for the television nominees.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Diversity and speculative fiction in dramas at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards

"That's it for comedies.  Stay tuned for a similar post about dramas"  So I ended
Diversity and fantasy in comedy nominees at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards and so I shall continue today.  I begin with the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series.
The Americans (FX)
The Crown (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This Is Us (NBC)
Westworld (HBO)
As I've already reported in Diversity a winner at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, this is a record year for diverse performing nominees and "The Handmaid's Tale" has already earned an Emmy that recognized a performance by Samira Wiley, an LGBT African-American.  In addition, both "This Is Us" and "Westworld" have nominated actors that added to the diversity of nominees, all of whom I'll write about below.  It's also a better year than last year, when 'Westworld' led drama series with 22 Emmy nominations, followed by 'Stranger Things' with 19 and 'The Handmaid's Tale' with 13 with "Game of Thrones" joining last year's top speculative fiction shows and tying "Saturday Night Live" at 22 nominations.*  I'm also sure that a speculative fiction series will win for the fourth time in a row, as I see this category as a contest between last year's winner "The Handmaid's Tale" and the year before's winner "Game of Thrones."  If all things were equal, I would say that "Game of Thrones" would win, but I'm not sure that they are.  If the anti-Trump zeitgeist that propelled "The Handmaid's Tale" to victory in this category as well as both actress categories plus directing and writing last last year is still as strong, then it will likely repeat.  Either way, it would be fantastic and futuristic politics and government for the win.

If one is looking for an upset, I expect it would be "The Americans," which won Program of the Year at the 2018 Television Critics Association Awards.  That would still be a program about politics and government, although it wouldn't be my choice.  I'm rooting for "Westworld," although I think I will be disappointed.

Now for the acting categories, beginning with Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Jason Bateman as Marty Byrde on Ozark (Episode: "The Toll") (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson on This Is Us (Episode: "Number Three") (NBC)
Ed Harris as The Man in Black / William on Westworld (Episode: "Vanishing Point") (HBO)
Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings on The Americans (Episode: "START") (FX)
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson on This Is Us (Episode: "The Car") (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe on Westworld (Episode: "The Passenger") (HBO)
Well, look at that, a rematch of Ed Harris versus Jeffrey Wright, who contended against each other for Best Supporting Actor on Television for these same roles at the 2017 Saturn Awards, a contest Ed Harris won.  I don't think that will happen here for two reasons.  First, Jeffrey Wright delivered the more nuanced and complex performance, which would be rewarded by the voters of the Television Academy, unlike the Saturn Award voters, who are not about subtle.  Second, Sterling K. Brown is the returning winner, so I expect he's favored.  Either would be a win for diversity as well as great acting.

My choice for an upset would be Jason Bateman.  My wife and I are in the middle of binge-watching "Ozark" and we are really impressed with Bateman's performance.  So might the Emmy voters.

Speculative fiction also has strong representation among the nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown (Episode: "Dear Mrs. Kennedy") (Netflix)
Tatiana Maslany as Various Characters on Orphan Black (Episode: "To Right the Wrongs of Many") (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne / Offred on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "The Last Ceremony") (Hulu)
Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri on Killing Eve (Episode: "I Have a Thing About Bathrooms") (BBC America)
Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans (Episode: "The Summit") (FX)
Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy on Westworld (Episode: "Reunion") (HBO)
While I'm rooting for Evan Rachel Wood, I doubt she'll win.  Instead, I think it's another contest between the past two winners, Tatiana Maslany, who won two years ago, and Elisabeth Moss, who won last year.  While neither would be a win for diversity — that would be Sandra Oh, who is the first actress of Asian ancestry to be nominated for this category — both would be wins for speculative fiction, which would make me happy.  Finally, my choice for an upset would be Keri Russell, who won Individual Achievement in Drama at the TCA Awards.  That would be a fitting send-off for the final season of the spy drama as well as a different way to make an anti-Trump and anti-Putin statement.

Every nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series represents speculative fiction show or a series that examines politics and government with some examining both — more fantastic and futuristic politics and government!
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Spoils of War") (HBO)
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf") (HBO)
Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "First Blood") (Hulu)
David Harbour as Jim Hopper on Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Four: Will the Wise") (Netflix)
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson on Homeland (Episode: "Species Jump") (Showtime)
Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on The Crown (Episode: "Mystery Man") (Netflix)
I asked what if the entertainment professionals voted on the television acting nominations at the Saturn Awards?  The answer for this category was that Peter Dinklage would replace Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a nominee.  It turns out that the Saturn Award nominating committee got Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's nomination right, just as they did for Adina Porter in "American Horror Story: Cult."  On the other hand, I was right to think that Peter Dinklage deserved a nomination as well.  Sorry, Kit Harington.  I also called that the professionals would pick David Harbour, who the Saturn Awards snubbed.  All of them, plus Joseph Fiennes from "The Handmaid's Tale," performed in series that potray fantastic and futuristic politics and government, so any of them winning would satisfy me.  As for who would win, I'm personally rooting for Harbour, who won a Critics' Choice Award, but I think the trophy will go to Dinklage, who is the only one of the nominees to win this category, which he did twice, most recently in 2015.  My hope for an upset would be Mandy Patinkin, but watch it be Matt Smith.  At least both have speculative fiction credentials, Patinkin for "The Princess Bride" and Smith for "Doctor Who."

By the way, this is the least diverse acting category, where the best one could do is point out how many of the nominees are European.  *Snort!*

All four top speculative fiction series have nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Alexis Bledel as Emily / Ofsteven on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "Unwomen") (Hulu)
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven on Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Three: The Pollywog") (Netflix)
Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "June") (Hulu)
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf") (HBO)
Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret on The Crown (Episode: "Beryl") (Netflix)
Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay on Westworld (Episode: "Akane no Mai") (HBO)
Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford on The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "Women's Work") (Hulu)
My personal favorite is Thandie Newton, who I liked better than Evan Rachel Wood in this season of "Westworld," followed by Millie Bobby Brown.  Unfortunately, I don't think either will win.  Instead, this category features a match-up between two of last year's winners, Ann Dowd, who won this award last year, and Alexis Bledel, who won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for the same role last year.  Between the two of them, I think Dowd has the inside track.  My choice for upset would be either Newton or Vanessa Kirby.  The first would at least be a win for diversity as well as great acting, while the latter would be an example of a great role elevating a performance.

"Westworld" has no nominations in the next two categories, which is why I think it will not win Outstanding Drama Series.  On the other hand, "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things" do, so all of them have a shot, the first two especially so.

Here are the nominees for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
The Crown (Episode: "Paterfamilias"), directed by Stephen Daldry (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "Beyond the Wall"), directed by Alan Taylor (HBO)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf"), directed by Jeremy Podeswa (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "After"), directed by Kari Skogland (Hulu)
Ozark (Episode: "The Toll"), directed by Jason Bateman (Netflix)
Ozark (Episode: "Tonight We Improvise"), directed by Daniel Sackheim (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Nine: The Gate"), directed by the Duffer Brothers (Netflix)
This is the strongest category for "Ozark," so I think this is the category in which it has the best shot for a win.  Even so, I would consider it an upset, as "The Handmaid's Tale" won last year and "Game of Thrones" the two years before that.  Between the two, I give the advantage to "The Handmaid's Tale" based on its win at the DGA Awards.

The same is true for my opinion of the nominees for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
The Americans (Episode: "START"), written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg (FX)
The Crown (Episode: "Mystery Man"), written by Peter Morgan (Netflix)
Game of Thrones (Episode: "The Dragon and the Wolf"), written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss (HBO)
The Handmaid's Tale (Episode: "June"), written by Bruce Miller (Hulu)
Killing Eve (Episode: "Nice Face"), written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (BBC America)
Stranger Things (Episode: "Chapter Nine: The Gate"), written by the Duffer Brothers (Netflix)
Again, "The Handmaid's Tale" won last year and "Game of Thrones" the two years before that, so I think the contest is between them with the advantage going to "The Handmaid's Tale" based on its win at the WGA Awards.  I give a slim chance of an upset to "The Americans" for its final season.

I conclude with Season 2 Opening Credits for "Westworld," which earned a nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design.

Chaos takes control. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and James Marsden.
It did not win, but I was pleased to see it nominated anyway.

I plan on returning with posts about the winners on Tuesday.  In the meantime, stay tuned for an entry about the People's Choice Awards nominees.

*While "Game of Thrones" had the most overall Emmy Awards as of two years ago, the title now belongs to SNL with 54.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ten years ago, we were partying like it was 1929. Are we about to do it again?

I concluded Diversity and fantasy in comedy nominees at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards by telling my readers that I would "observe the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, when we were partying like it was 1929."

I begin with an examination of the collapse of Lehmann Brothers a decade ago from VOA News reporting Ten Years After the Financial Crisis: What Happened, What We've Learned.

It will be 10 years this week since the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, one of the casualties of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. The ripple effects sent the global economy into a tailspin and brought on the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. VOA correspondent Mariama Diallo takes a look at the impact of that turbulent economic period and the lessons learned a decade later.
That's actually a pretty good summary of the crisis from an elite perspective.  For what it looked like at ground level, I recommend US: Pains of the financial crisis still felt 10 years on by Al Jazeera English.

Saturday will have been a decade since the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank triggered a global recession. While the crisis played out on Wall Street and in government ministries, its roots lay in small towns and cities across the US, where families pursuing the so-called "American Dream" of home ownership fell victim to unscrupulous banks and predatory lending schemes. While Wall Street and the banks may have recovered, many Americans are finding their road to recovery longer and more difficult. Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Perris, California.
Thirty years ago, I lived just over the county line to the west of Perris, so this story literally hits close to home.  Speaking of which, I was fortunate to have gotten out of the housing market just in time, as I wrote in 2014.
The news on the radio in June 2005 trumpeted record home sales and prices.  I took it as a sign of the market top I'd been looking for since 2001 and immediately drove to the nearest real estate office to my home in the Irish Hills of Michigan and listed my house for sale.  The house sold in April 2006 and closed in May 2006, just as the bottom was about to fall out.
The result was that I got out of the market just in time...then rented from 2006 until now, eight years of riding the real estate market down by staying out of it.
It wasn't all luck.  I knew the housing bubble would pop, but I had no idea how big the explosion would be.  It ended up being far worse than I expected.

Both of the above looked back at the start of the Great Recession and how it led up to today.  What about the future?  MSNBC did that in 10 Years After The Lehman Brothers Collapse, Here’s Where We Stand | Velshi & Ruhle.

10 years ago this week, Lehman Brothers collapsed, marking the largest domino to fall leading to the financial disaster of 2008. Stephanie Ruhle discusses whether or not anything has changed and if we could end up making the same mistake. Weighing in: Axios Chief Financial Correspondent Felix Salmon, Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude and the Editor-and-Chief of American Consequences, PJ O’Rourke.
Student loan debt is indeed a problem, one that I've mentioned only once on this blog thanks to Benie Sanders campaigning on the issue in Ann Arbor two years ago.  However, I doubt it will send the economy into recession the way the housing bust did in 2007-2008, as the value of housing declining contributed to reduced consumption then caused a financial crisis, which made the recession worse.  That's because the value of a college education will not decline before a recession, so that won't drag down the valuation of the debt as an asset, putting strain on the financial system and causing a panic to start a recession.  Instead, the causality will go the other way; the recession will hit first, causing people to lose their jobs and make them unable to pay.  That will cause a debt crisis in the financial system.  At least banks can't foreclose on and repossess people's educations, so the students will still have them, unlike all the people who lost their homes, although that's small consolation to the graduate whose increased earnings from their education have gone to paying off the debt to get their education.  That alone is reducing consumption and home ownership, slowing down the economy.

I conclude by observing that this is a good time to update the recession call I made in The tax bill and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond.  I thought then that the U.S. would go into recession by the end of this year.  That's not going to happen.  It looks like the tax bill has stimulated the economy enough that it will continue expanding into next year.  However, the next recession is still coming.  Based on New Deal Democrat's analysis at Seeking Alpha, that should happen in the second half of next year, so I'm moving my recession call to between July and December 2019.  The bad news is that my readers and I may not know until the middle of 2020.  The good news is that it would be perfectly timed to screw up Trump's re-election, should he last that long, or Pence's should he not.  I can live with that.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Diversity and fantasy in comedy nominees at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards

I am now done with stand-alone entries about the Creative Arts Emmy winners.  I'll save the rest for prediction and analysis entries about the comedies and dramas and final winners entries about the categories being awarded next Monday, when the Primetime Emmy Awards will be aired.  Stay tuned.
That's how I ended 'Jane,' 'Strong Island,' 'Wild Wild Country,' 'Blue Planet II,' and 'March of the Penguins 2' all winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, so I'll resume by combining the topics of Diversity a winner at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards and 'Westworld,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Handmaid's Tale,' 'Stranger Things,' and other speculative fiction nominees at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards for the comedy nominees.

I begin with the nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Atlanta (FX)
Barry (HBO)
Black-ish (ABC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
GLOW (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
There are no speculative fiction nominees here, not even "Big Bang Theory," so I'll go directly to diversity.  The nominees that most directly address diversity are "Atlanta" and "Black-ish."  The first has the better chance of winning an Emmy, but the second is more explictly political.  "GLOW" also has a diverse cast and deals with depictions of race in the 1980s in addition to issues of women on the fringe of Hollywood.  However, I don't think any of them will win.  Instead, as I wrote in 'Saturday Night Live' leads Outstanding Variety Sketch Series nominations, again, "'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'...should win for Outstanding Comedy Series."  It's a very well done, funny, and insightful show and it's about entertainment, albeit stand-up in New York City during the 1950s, not Hollywood, but all that should be enough for victory.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
Anthony Anderson as Andre "Dre" Johnson, Sr. on Black-ish (Episode: "Advance to Go (Collect $200)") (ABC)
Ted Danson as Michael on The Good Place (Episode: "Dance Dance Resolution") (NBC)
Larry David as Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm (Episode: "Fatwa!") (HBO)
Donald Glover as Earnest "Earn" Marks / Teddy Perkins on Atlanta (Episode: "Teddy Perkins") (FX)
Bill Hader as Barry Berkman / Barry Block on Barry (Episode: "Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, and Keep Going") (HBO)
William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher on Shameless (Episode: "Sleepwalking") (Showtime)
Once again, it's "Atlanta" and "Black-ish" representing diversity with Donald Glover as the returning winner for "Atlanta."  His strongest competition might be Ted Danson of "The Good Place," who won the comparable award at the Critics' Choice Television Awards, and William H. Macy, who won the comparable SAG Award.  As much as I'm rooting for Danson, I think Glover is likely to repeat.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox on Better Things (Episode: "Eulogy") (FX)
Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam "Midge" Maisel on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Episode: "Thank You and Good Night") (Amazon)
Allison Janney as Bonnie Plunkett on Mom (Episode: "Phone Confetti and a Wee Dingle") (CBS)
Issa Rae as Issa Dee on Insecure (Episode: "Hella Great") (HBO)
Tracee Ellis Ross as Dr. Rainbow "Bow" Johnson on Black-ish (Episode: "Elder. Scam.") (ABC)
Lily Tomlin as Frankie Bergstein on Grace and Frankie (Episode: "The Home") (Netflix)
Issa Rae from "Insecure" and Tracee Ellis Ross from "Black-ish" are the nominees increasing the diversity of the field, but I'm sure that Rachel Brosnahan as the title character of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" will win.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominees.