Thursday, January 31, 2019

Noah, Colbert, and Kimmel find the humor in the polar vortex and Trump's 'Global Waming' (sic) tweet


Yesterday, I took a serious look at the polar vortex returns.  Today, it's time for me to keep myself and my readers warm by sharing some good laughs about the record cold weather.

I begin with "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" segment It’s 2019, and the U.S. President Still Thinks a Cold Snap Disproves Global Warming.

Reporters brave frigid temperatures to cover the Polar Vortex, and Trump still thinks that a cold snap means global warming isn’t real.
Noah wasn't the only late night host to point out the president's spelling error.*  "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" used it as part of the title to What The Hell Is Going On With 'Global Waming?'

Against the backdrop of the president's climate change doubts, Stephen offers a new deodorant suggestion to Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.
Colbert used the polar vortex as fodder for his next night's monologue, Stephen Sends His Warmest Regards To The Midwest.

Stephen Colbert is sending you warm thoughts, the Midwest.
I told my wife, who is from Chicago, and she thought that bit was hilarious.

Finally, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" also noticed the spelling mistake, but decided it was more important to correct his scientific knowledge in Kids Explain Climate Change to Donald Trump.

More than 83 million Americans are expected to experience subzero temperatures this week and Donald Trump weighed in on the weather AGAIN today on Twitter implying that global warming isn't real. Since he doesn't seem to understand science and he doesn't know that climate change is responsible for extreme temperatures, including cold, we invited a couple of kids who do, to break it down for him.
Not only was that hilarious, it was actually a good explanation of the science.  I think Americans could use more of that.

*Trump used "there" instead of "their" in another tweet, but I'll save that for a future post if I need it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The polar vortex returns, bringing near-record cold temperatures


My readers are talking to me via their clicks today, as the entries they're reading today emphasize how cold it is, including Fantasy and reality of snow days in Michigan, which I tweeted out two days ago, but also It's freezing, so here's a song from 'Frozen', Frozen great lakes, and It's 'Frozen' out there.  Even the entries about animals that my readers are picking are about cold weather.  Bald Eagles in Monroe Michigan shows how our national bird takes refuge from winter weather and Amur Leopards: student sustainability video festival 36 describes an endangered species living in a cold climate.  Since my readers want to see entries about the cold, I'll oblige them with a post about the Polar Vortex.

I begin with USA Today's The polar vortex, explained.

Temperatures in the Midwest are nearing all-time record lows as a powerful polar vortex drives a deep freeze across the eastern half of the United States. The bitter cold will bring below-zero temperatures to a quarter of the continental USA. In fact, it is predicted that Chicago will be colder than Antar[c]tica, Siberia, and Mount Everest.

Extreme cold, big snowstorms - and even unwelcome invasions from the polar vortex - will continue to hit the U.S., even as humans continue to warm the planet.

As he has several times in the past, President Trump again tweeted about global warming during a cold snap: Late Monday, he tweeted that "in the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded...What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!"

However, no matter how much humans have warmed the planet, we still didn't kill winter: Trump's own federal agency - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - corrected the president on Tuesday, noting that "winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening."
For more explanations I've posted on this blog, I recommend my readers click on Polar vortex and difference between climate and weather explained from 2014 and Vox explains how a warming Arctic can cause extreme weather.  The latter may not mention the polar vortex by name, but it certainly explains extreme swings in temperature from a wobbling jet stream.

Speaking of extreme swings in weather, CBS News mentions an 80-degree rise in temperatures from today to Sunday in Dangerous polar vortex sweeps Midwestern states.

A dangerous polar vortex is sweeping across the midwest, with some areas experiencing colder temperatures than the Arctic circle or South Pole. CBS News contributing meteorologist Jeff Berardelli joins CBSN to discuss the latest forecast.
Because of climate change, the planet is once again experiencing chills and fever.

For all my readers experiencing the polar vortex, stay warm and remember that milder temperatures are coming soon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

'Velshi & Ruhle' on the cost of the shutdown and the effect of the tax cut


I opened MSNBC and CNBC report on looming recession risk by writing "The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is over, but it lasted long enough to have an economic effect that might last."  Velshi & Ruhle on MSNBC examined some of the lasting effects in Calculating The Cost Of The 35 Day Government Shutdown.

Shutting down the government for 35 days may cost the American economy $11 billion - this according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi are joined by CNBC’s Editor at Large, John Harwood, to discuss the economic repercussions of the shutdown and prolonged budget battle.
CNBC reported that, not only did the CBO estimate that the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion, but also that $3 billion in economic activity has been permanently lost and that economic growth will slow this year to 2.3 percent, compared with the 3.1 percent rate last year, as the benefits of the new tax law begin to fade.

That brings me to the next segment from Velshi & Ruhle that MSNBC uploaded to its YouTube channel, which asked Is The President’s Massive Tax Cut Plan Falling Flat?

President Trump promised a $1.5 trillion tax cut package would boost hiring, but a new survey shows it has had no major impact on business spending or hiring plans. Policy Analyst from the American Enterprise Institute James Pethokoukis joins Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle to discuss.
I find the remark that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz might care about deficits but no one else really does amusing.  The man does not have much of a constituency for that issue.  For what it's worth I did mention the increased deficits and national debt in The tax bill and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond as a result of the tax cut, but I didn't think it would have an effect already.

On the other hand, I did not mention that the tax cut would not result in increased hiring and wage increases; I focused on how it would make the recession after next worse instead.  However, I'm glad Velshi & Ruhle pointed that out as a failure of the sales job for the tax cut.  I learn a lot from their show as I enjoy watching them onscreen, particularly Stephanie Ruhle.  She's fun, smart, and makes Ali Velshi look good.

Monday, January 28, 2019

CBS News, CNN, and CNBC debate Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz running for President as an independent


Last night, Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he's considering independent run for president on "60 Minutes."  That prompted a flurry of analysis and speculation on the cable news networks, beginning with CBS's own digital news service, which focused on the negative reaction to the announcement in Democrats fear Howard Schultz presidential run would help Trump win.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told "60 Minutes" he's seriously considering and independent presidential bid in 2020, and he's already facing a backlash from the left. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns has more on the reaction.
After having lost the previous election in the Electoral College while earning a plurality of votes, Democrats are in no mood for splitting the anti-Trump vote.  Three years ago, I wrote that 2016 could be a good year for minor party candidates and it was.
First, the Libertarians achieved "major-party" status in Michigan, even if the party didn't qualify for federal matching funds.   Second, The Greens won more offices than Libertarians in Michigan, seven to the Libertarians' three.  Finally, the minor party share of the vote exceeded the last "good year" for minor parties, 2000, when 3.75% of the vote went to candidates from outside the two major parties, 2.74% of which was cast for the Green Party ticket.  In 2016, 5.73% of the vote was cast for minor party and independent candidates, 3.28% of the total to the Libertarians and 1.07% to the Greens.  I'm sure that's the best showing for the Libertarians in the history of the party.  One has to go back to 1996 for a better showing by a third party, 8.40% for the Reform Party, the largest chunk by far of the 10.05% that went to minor party and independent candidates that year.
While 2016 was a good year for minor parties, it was not a good year for Democrats and they don't want to repeat that performance when they feel like they will need every available vote to defeat Donald Trump.

Follow over the jump for video segments from CNN and CNBC.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

"RBG" earns two Oscar nominations plus other nominees for Best Documentary Feature


When I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the entry I've planned on writing about the Oscar nominees I've been promising," I wasn't sure what I'd write.  It turns out that I'm following up on what was more a hope than a prediction for "RBG" in 'RBG' wins Best Political Documentary, 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' Best Documentary: "I am rooting for it to earn an Oscar nod for Best Documentary Feature."  I got my wish.  Watch 91st Oscar Nominees: Documentary Feature.


File 770 lists the nominees.
Best Documentary Feature:

“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” RaMell Ross
“Minding the Gap,” Bing Liu
“Of Fathers and Sons,” Talal Derki
“RBG,” Betsy West, Julie Cohen
It should come as no surprise that I'm rooting for "RBG."  Given the kind of electorate that voted for "Icarus" as Best Documentary Feature last year, I also think it's the favorite.  It helps that it's the only documentary with a second Oscar nomination, which is for "I'll Fight" as Best Original Song.  Those are the same two categories that "An Inconvenient Truth" won.  That's a good precedent, although I don't think "RBG" will win original song.  As I predicted for the 2019 Grammy Awards and the 2019 Golden Globes, it's between "Shallow" and "All the Stars," with "Shallow" being the favorite.

I am also not surprised at the nominations for “Free Solo” and “Minding the Gap,” as I wrote about both movies in 'Dark Money,' 'Hitler's Hollywood' and 'RBG' lead Best Political Documentary nominees at the 2018 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards.  I think "Free Solo" is the better movie, but "Minding the Gap" has more social commentary.  If one wanted a non-political choice, "Free Solo" is the one I'd pick and the movie I expect has the best, if not good, chance against "RBG."

I thought the final two nominations would be for "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" and "Three Identical Strangers," but both were snubbed.  I am not surprised; the Documentary Branch snubbed "Jane" last year, even though I thought it was the second-best documentary of 2017.  In the comments to the YouTube video above, user Connor Webb made the following observation.
I've been feeling a certain way about the Documentary branch, and the snub of Won't You Be My Neighbor proves it. I don't think they like the idea of a person winning multiple Best Documentary Oscars. If Won't You Be My Neighbor was nominated, everyone would vote for it to win. So they didn't let it get nominated.
That's what I think about both "Jane" and "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" not being nominated.  They would have won if allowed to be put before a vote of the full academy membership, so they weren't nominated.  I hope both get an opportunity at the Emmy Awards.  That certainly will happen for "Minding the Gap," which is on Hulu.

Instead, “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and “Of Fathers and Sons” earned the final two nominations.  I had at least heard of “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” so I wasn't completely surprised at its nomination, but "Of Fathers and Sons" blindsided me.  However, the latter's documentation of life inside the Islamic Califate AKA the empire of the Sith Jihad makes for a valuable social and political contribution.  That written, even though this is the second most political film of the field, I don't think it has much of a chance.  For starters, it's originally in German.  “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is at least in English and about the American South.

I'm closing today's entry with "I’ll Fight" | Jennifer Hudson | Music & Lyrics by Diane Warren (From the Motion Picture ‘RBG’).

“I’ll Fight” is performed by Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Grammy Award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson with music and lyrics by Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe-winning, and 9-time Academy Award-nominated, songwriter Diane Warren.
I'll have more about the Oscar nominees as well as the winners of other awards shows, beginning with the SAG Awards, which take place tonight.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

MSNBC and CNBC report on looming recession risk


The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is over, but it lasted long enough to have an economic effect that might last.  MSNBC's "Morning Joe" examined the economic environment Wednesday in Economists Fret Over Possibility Of Recession: Steve Rattner.

Steve Rattner charts a plunging consumer sentiment and falling projections for growth and why economists are growing nervous about the possibility of a recession.
The next morning, CNBC reinforced the message of economic uncertainty when it reported Leading economic indicators drop in December.

CNBC's Rick Santelli reports on negative leading economic indicator data, which are down for only the third time in three years.
Yikes!  The next recession looks even closer now than it did a month ago.

It's not just the economic situation.  CNBC reported from Davos that the world is in The worst 'geopolitical recession' in a long time: Pimco Vice Chairman.

Pimco Vice Chairman John Studzinski sits down with CNBC's Sara Eisen to look at what's affecting the world economy the most.
The political situation, both in the U.S. and abroad, seems to be making things worse.  It's enough to put me in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood.  Good thing tomorrow's Sunday, when I post about entertainment.  Stay tuned for the entry I've planned on writing about the Oscar nominees I've been promising.

Friday, January 25, 2019

An early happy 9th birthday to Coffee Party USA and Happy Irish Coffee Day!


A year ago today, I wished my readers Happy Irish Coffee Day and Happy Birthday to Coffee Party USA!  Today, I am reversing the order and wishing Coffee Party USA an early happy 9th birthday.  I begin the celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the nonprofit for which I'm a director with Birthday by The Beatles.


If it's a birthday, then there must be presents!  I am asking my readers give a gift to Coffee Party USA by making a donation of $9.00 (or more) to match the $9.00 donation I made yesterday.  Your donation will allow "you to be a part of the important work of Coffee Party USA as we empower and connect communities to reclaim our government for the people."  It will go to improving our website, the new version of which Coffee Party USA debuted in October and registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day.  There are municipal and some state elections coming up this year and people need to be registered and reminded to vote in them.

If donating is 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 empower and connect communities to reclaim our government for the people in the future.

Once again, I am asking my readers to match my donation of $9.00.  The other directors and I will thank you now and American democracy will thank you later!

Follow over the jump for a celebration of Irish Coffee Day.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vox explain how tax brackets work


Thus far, Anderson Cooper shows other politicians besides Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dance on The Rediculist is the most read and commented on entry this month.  So when I saw Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Debunks Myths About A 70% Marginal Tax from 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert' hot on the heels of a video from Vox on the same subject, I knew I had to write about it.  Here's the clip, which was uploaded to YouTube two days ago.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to debunk misleading representations of her proposed 70% marginal tax rate.
That was fun to watch in addition to being informative.  If Stephen and AOC didn't give enough details for my readers, How tax brackets actually work from Vox just might do the trick.

There is a common misunderstanding about how tax brackets work in the US, and it’s causing us to have uninformed debates about taxes.
...
The TEx crew took a deep dive into Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal for a marginal tax rate of 70% for top earners in America. A lot of people are upset, and even more have no idea how it works.
...
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70 percent top income tax rate, many conservatives started saying Democrats wants to take away 70 percent of Americans’ hard-earned money. This is not only wrong, but it takes advantage of something Americans have long misunderstood: tax brackets. It’s time to fix that with a simple, paper-made video.
Here's to hoping my readers are smarter about tax brackets and less afraid of high marginal tax rates.  Besides, a 70% top marginal tax bracket was good enough for Dick Nixon, who was not only not a liberal, but an avowed anti-communist.


I'm sure I'll have more to write about Representative Ocasio-Cortez in the future.  In the meantime, stay tuned for an entry celebrating Irish Coffee Day and Coffee Party USA's birthday followed by a post or two I promised about the Oscar nominees.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

National Institute for Civil Discourse joins CBS News to promote civility as part of a solution to the shutdown


I was planning on writing about the Oscar nominees today, but I found something that made me change my plans.*  Instead, I found a video that connects to Universities studying and promoting civility in politics, which I posted in 2012.  In that entry, I wrote "It is no secret that I'm a member of the Coffee Party, as I blog about it here. One of the founding principles of the Coffee Party is civility, including having members sign a Civility Pledge."  I also included a press release from the University of Arizona about the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD).  So I was intrigued to see a representative of the NICD on CBS News this morning.

Join me in watching How to promote civility during polarized times.

Both sides of the aisle are blaming the other for the longest government shutdown in history. Keith Allred, the executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, joins CBSN to discuss how his organization specifically prepares for times like these.
As a director of the organization, I'm glad to see that someone is talking about one of the Coffee Party's pet issues as part of a solution for the longest government shutdown on record.  May he have success with his initiative.  As snarky as I can be here (or at least, as much as I outsource my snark to late-night comedians), I really think we need people talking with each other, not at each other to solve our problems.

I'll return to this subject on Friday to write about Irish Coffee Day and Coffee Party USA's birthday.  In the meantime, I conclude today's entry with the Coffee Party Civility Pledge.  May my readers join our lawmakers in trying to follow it.


*I plan on writing about the Oscar nominees this weekend.  Stay tuned.

ETA: This entry has now been crossposted to the Coffee Party USA website.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"Death of a Nation" and "Fahrenheit 11/9" earn four Razzie nominations each, including two shared ones for Donald Trump


I twice promised an entry about the Razzie nominees, so it's time to follow through.  Without any further ado, here are the 39th Razzie® Award Nominations!

With a stumbling stock market, a possible impending Presidential impeachment, raging wild fires, devastating floods, mass shootings and a litany of plagues that reached near Biblical proportions, 2018 was a year overfull with disasters.

39th Annual RAZZIE® AWARD NOMINATIONS

WORST PICTURE
Gotti
The Happytime Murders
Holmes & Watson
Robin Hood
Winchester
This wouldn't be a Razzie field without some bad speculative fiction movies.  This year, it's "The Happytime Murders," "Winchester," and arguably "Robin Hood."  As for bad movies about politics and government, I will have to settle three, maybe four, nominees about crime and punishment, "Gotti," "The Happytime Murders," "Holmes & Watson," and again arguably "Robin Hood."  Between these two ways of slicing the nominees, I've managed to nick all of them.
WORST ACTRESS
Jennifer Garner / Peppermint
Amber Heard / London Fields
Melissa McCarthy / Happytime Murders and Life of the Party
Helen Mirren / Winchester
Amanda Seyfried / The Clapper
This field has more crime and punishment with "Peppermint," which I had high hopes for as a female-led action movie.  Its nomination for Jennifer Garner along with those for the rest all appear to be examples of bringing big names (more or less, Amber Heard and Amanda Seyfried show more promise than achievement) down low.  Without the Razzies, I'd probably never have heard of either "London Fields" or "The Clapper."  Maybe I would have been better off.

Now the first of four nominations for "Death of a Nation," a sequel of sorts to "Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party," a four-time Razzie winner.
WORST ACTOR
Johnny Depp (Voice Only) Sherlock Gnomes
Will Ferrell / Holmes & Watson
John Travolta / Gotti
Donald J. Trump (As Himself) Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9
Bruce Willis / Death Wish
Yes, readers, your eyes are telling you the truth.  President Donald J. Trump earned a nomination for being himself in two movies, both of them documentaries.  At least I'm taking his and other nominations for "Fahrenheit 11/9" as a comment on Trump, not the movie.

Also, I suspect having Amber Heard and Johnny Depp both being nominated for acting awards in the same year is the Razzie Awards voters' idea of a joke.  If so, it's not very funny.  Still, it's another nomination for speculative fiction.
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jamie Fox / Robin Hood
Ludacris (Voice Only) Show Dogs
Joel McHale / Happytime Murders
John C. Reilly / Holmes & Watson
Justice Smith / Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Oh, look, a nomination for a movie, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," that might also earn a Oscar nomination or two for Best Visual Effects or Best Sound Editing.  Add that to the nomination for "Show Dogs" and it's two more for speculative fiction (I am counting "Show Dogs" as fantasy).

Now for more political nominees.
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kellyanne Conway (As Herself) Fahrenheit 11/9
Marcia Gay Harden / Fifty Shades Freed
Kelly Preston / Gotti
Jaz Sinclair / Slender Man
Melania Trump (As Herself) Fahrenheit 11/9
Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump are competing against each other in "Fahrenheit 9/11."  At least they didn't earn double nominations for being in "Death of a Nation," although I suspect the D'Souza documentary might have had their nominations in the Michael Moore film misattributed to it.  Also, my prediction that "Fifty Shades Freed" would earn at least one Razzie nomination came true even though the one about it earning a Grammy nomination didn't.  Sorry, 2018 was too good a year for movie songs.  Finally, add "Slender Man" to the roster of bad speculative fiction films nominated.
WORST SCREEN COMBO
Any Two Actors or Puppets (Especially in Those Creepy Sex Scenes) Happytime Murders
Johnny Depp & His Fast-Fading Film Career (He’s doing voices for cartoons, fer kripesakes!) Sherlock Gnomes
Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly (Trashing Two of Literature’s Most Beloved Characters) Holmes & Watson
Kelly Preston & John Travolta (Getting BATTLEFIELD EARTH type Reviews!) Gotti
Donald J. Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness / Death of a Nation & Fahrenheit 11/9
Finally, a category with no new nominees.  Also, I think Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly should win, but if I voted, it would be for Donald J. Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness.  Hahaha!  Too true!
WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF or SEQUEL
Death of a Nation (Remake of Hillary’s America...)
Death Wish
Holmes & Watson
The Meg (Rip-Off of Jaws)
Robin Hood
And "The Meg" makes for the final speculative fiction nominee.  As for "Death of a Nation," it was lucky it wasn't nominated for Worst Picture, too.
WORST DIRECTOR
Etan Cohen / Holmes & Watson
Kevin Connolly / Gotti
James Foley / Fifty Shades Freed
Brian Henson / Happytime Murders
The Spierig Brothers (Michael & Peter) / Winchester
And Dinesh D’Souza should consider himself lucky he wasn't nominated for Worst Director.  However, he didn't escape being nominated for the next category.
WORST SCREENPLAY
Death of a Nation, Written by Dinesh D’Souza & Bruce Schooley
Fifty Shades Freed, Screenplay by Niall Leonard, from the Novel by E.L. James
Gotti, Screenplay by Leo Rossi and Lem Dobbs
Happytime Murders, Screenplay by Todd Berger, Story by Berger and Dee Austin Robinson
Winchester, Written by Tom Vaughan and The Spierig Brothers
The Razzie Awards tried to be helpful by providing the following, but managed to be incomplete in interesting and possibly revealing ways.  That, or they failed at math.
NOMINATIONS PER PICTURE
Gotti = 6
Holmes & Watson = 6
Death of a Nation = 6
Happytime Murders = 6
Winchester = 4
Robin Hood = 3
Fifty Shades Freed = 3
Death Wish = 2
First, I only count four nominations for "Death of a Nation," not six.  The only way it could have earned six would be if the Razzie tabulators screwed up by counting Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump's nominations for "Fahrenheit 11/9" as part of the total for "Death of a Nation."  Oops!  Speaking of which, the total doesn't list "Fahrenheit 11/9" or its four nominations.  Remember when I wrote that "I'm taking his and other nominations for 'Fahrenheit 11/9' as a comment on Trump, not the movie."  This omission strengthens my suspicion.  That, or the Razzie tabulators were sloppy.  Either would work.  Also, "Sherlock Gnomes" earned two nominations, both for Johnny Depp.  That one I'm chalking up to sloppiness; the Razzies certainly wouldn't cut Depp any slack!

So, just for completeness, "Death of A Nation" earned four (not six) nominations, Donald J. Trump (As Himself) for Worst Actor, Donald J, Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness for Worst Screen Combo, Worst Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel, and Worst Screenplay.  "Fahrenheit 11/9" also earned four nominations, Donald J. Trump (As Himself) for Worst Actor, Donald J, Trump & His Self Perpetuating Pettiness for Worst Screen Combo, and Kellyanne Conway and Melania Trump as themselves for Worst Supporting Actress.

In case any of my readers want to vote, click here and pay $40.00 for a buy one, get one free special.

I'm not done with entertainment.  The Oscar nominees come out in the morning.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 21, 2019

'Green Book,' 'If Beale Street Could Talk,' and more celebration of diversity in awards show winners for MLK Day 2019


I closed The highest grossing speculative fiction films of 2018 by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for this year's edition of celebrating diversity in awards shows nominees and winners for MLK Day."  To do so, I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling the relevant paragraphs from 'Vice' may be the best political film of 2018, earning nominations before it even hits theaters, beginning with one examining "Green Book," which turned out the be the big movie winner of the night.
Another of the three movies with five Golden Globe nominations also deals with a historical social and political theme, "Green Book," which is about dealing with racial segregation and discrimination in the South during the latter days of Jim Crow.  It is competing against "Vice" in all of its nominated categories, Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Viggo Mortensen who is contending with Bale, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture in which Mahershala Ali is competing against Rockwell, and Best Director – Motion Picture and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, where Peter Farrelly is up against McKay.
"Green Book" won three Golden Globes, Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.  Watch all three awards being presented, beginning with "Green Book" Wins Best Screenplay - 2019 Golden Globes (Highlight).

The writers of "Green Book" accept the award for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
The screenplay has also been nominated at the BAFTA Awards, Critics' Choice Awards, and Satellite Awards and won several awards from local critics associations and film festival, including Detroit's.  I would be surprised if it weren't nominated for Original Screenplay when the Academy Awards nominees are announced tomorrow.

Next, "Green Book" Wins Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy - 2019 Golden Globes (Highlight).

Director Peter Farrelly of "Green Book" accepts the award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
"Green Book" has also been named an AFI Movie of the Year and Best Film by the National Board of Review and won the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures.  I expect it to be nominated for Best Picture tomorrow.

Finally, watch as Mahershala Ali Wins Best Supporting Actor - 2019 Golden Globes (Highlight).

Mahershala Ali accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Mahershala Ali has been nominated for this role at the BAFTA Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Black Reel Awards, Online Film Critics Society Awards, and Satellite Awards.  In addition to the Golden Globe, he has won for this role at the AACTA International Awards, Black Film Critics Circle Awards, Critics' Choice Awards, and several awards from local critics associations and film festival, including Detroit's.  He should earn a nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role tomorrow.

I completely missed "If Beale Street Could Talk" last month.  To make up for it, I am sharing Regina King Wins Best Supporting Actress - 2019 Golden Globes (Highlight).

Regina King accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Regina King also won awards for Best Supporting Actress at the Critics' Choice Awards, National Board of Review, Online Film Critics Society Awards, and Satellite Awards, as well as numerous local critics associations.  She was not, however, nominated for a SAG Award, so it is possible, but not likely, that she may not earn a nomination tomorrow morning.  Too bad, as she could use the Oscar next to her Emmy Award.

Follow over the jump for other winners for diversity at the Golden Globes and Critics's Choice Awards.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The highest grossing speculative fiction films of 2018


On National Science Fiction Day this year, I made an excuse for not following precedent.
Happy National Science Fiction Day!  For reasons I will explain later, I am not in a position to review the box office performance of 2019's speculative fiction movies.  I'll probably do that next week.
It took even longer than that, but I'm finally getting around to doing so after returning home from traveling.

I open with an overview of the year in film at the domestic box office from Beyond The Trailer, Top Ten 2018 Movies - Box Office Breakdown.

Top Ten 2018 Movies today! Beyond The Trailer's box office breakdown for 2018! Disney dominates! Hit movies vs flops & bombs!
...
Top Ten Movies 2018 today, at the box office! Beyond The Trailer host Grace Randolph's breakdown and review of 2018 movies at the box office, including Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Fox, Sony and Paramount! Where Infinity War, Black Panther, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, Aquaman, Venom and more stood on the domestic and worldwide top ten lists!
All but one of the top ten by domestic box office as of the end of last year are speculative fiction films of one sort or other except "Mission Impossible: Fallout."  Even that one is a genre film (action), so it would be one I would vote on at this year's Saturn Awards.  The global box office showed only slightly less taste for escapism, as "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the only non-genre film in the worldwide top ten by box office.  By the way, all the Disney films are speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for the top speculative films released in 2018 by genre from Box Office Mojo retrieved this afternoon, so that the current weekends receipts are included in the totals.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Driving update for January 2019: Snow Bear


Snow Bear rolled over 5,000 miles on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, so it's time for a driving update.

It has been 84 days since my wife's car passed 4,000 miles on October 24, 2018.  That means my wife drove Snow Bear an average of 11.90 miles per day, 363.10 miles per standard month, and 4345.23 miles per year over the past month.  That's more than the 10.42 miles per day, 317.71 miles per month, and 3802.08 miles per year she drove her car between July 20, 2018 and October 24, 2018.  More of her most recent trip to Chicago ended up in this reporting period, so I'm not surprised.

Of course, the important statistic is how much the two of us drove both our cars combined.  Between December 21, 2018, when Pearl passed 44,000 miles and January 16 of this year, I drove her another 300 miles.  Since the two cars rolled over their previous thousand miles within a day of each other, that means I drove Pearl 1300 miles in the time my wife drove Snow Bear 1000 miles for a total of 2300 miles in 84 days, a combined average of 27.38 miles per day, 835.12 miles per month, and 9995.05 miles per year.  That's less than the 30.93 miles per day, 943.30 miles per month, and 11,288.66 miles per year we drove our cars between July and October, but still more than the 25.42 miles per day, 773.31 miles per month, and 9279.7 miles per year we drove together between March and July.  Finally, my wife and I are also driving more than the closest comparable period a year ago, November 22, 2017 to March 25, 2018, when we drove a combined 24.61 miles per day, 750.51 miles per standard month, and 8982.65 miles per year.

We are still contributing to the slow increase in miles driven by Americans last year, as Advisor Perspectives/dshort.com quoting the U.S. Department of Transportation reported earlier this week.
"Travel on all roads and streets changed by +0.3% (+0.8 billion vehicle miles) for November 2018 as compared with November 2017. Travel for the month is estimated to be 258.5 billion vehicle miles." The 12-month moving average was up 0.03% month-over-month and up 0.4% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) is down 0.05% month-over-month and down 0.7% year-over-year.

Here is a chart that illustrates this data series from its inception in 1971. It illustrates the "Moving 12-Month Total on ALL Roads," as the DOT terms it.

The only good news is that all of the aggregate increase in driving by Americans is from increased population, not the average American driving more.  At least our contribution to the twelve months ending November 2018 helped do that.

That's it for this month's driving update.  Stay tuned for two days of entertainment features for the holiday weekend.

Friday, January 18, 2019

CNBC on the economic effect of the shutdown as it hits four weeks


I told my readers to "stay tuned" at the end of 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' takes a closer look at the FBI investigating whether Trump worked for Russia as "I plan on returning to the shutdown" today.  I have had enough of comedy, so I'm turning to CNBC, which reported Trump administration doubles estimate of shutdown cost to economy from original forecast on Tuesday.
The Trump administration now estimates that the cost of the government shutdown will be twice as steep as originally forecast.

The original estimate that the partial shutdown would subtract 0.1 percentage point from growth every two weeks has now been doubled to a 0.1 percentage point subtraction every week, according to an official who asked not to be named.
That's the same estimate from Effects of the shutdown from local news six years ago, in which I wrote "one week of shutdown takes 0.1% off the GPD for a quarter."  I wrote that estimate was still true in The shutdown is disrupting American science.  Nice to see that the current administration's economists finally came around on this.

Now, why did they change the estimate?
The administration had initially counted just the impact from the 800,000 federal workers not receiving their paychecks. But they now believe the impact doubles, due to greater losses from private contractors also out of work and other government spending and functions that won't occur.

If the shutdown lasts the rest of this month, it could subtract a sizable half a percentage point from gross domestic product, the official said.
Here's the video segment with Steve Liesman: Trump administration sees half a percent GDP loss if shutdown continues through January.

CNBC's Steve Liesman reports on the Trump administration's warning stronger negative impact on GDP than first expected from the shutdown.
On Wednesday, CNBC interviewed another economist that made en even more dire forecast, The government shutdown will erase all Q1 growth: Economist.

Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics founder and chief U.S. economist, joins "Squawk Box" to discuss how the partial government shutdown is impacting the economy.
Yikes!  When it looks like I was more right than I thought when I wrote that the shutdown could speed up the arrival of the next recession.

CNBC continued to hit this message, uploading Michael Townsend talks the economic impact of the shutdown this morning.

Michael Townsend, Charles Schwab and Co. VP of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, discusses the ongoing government shutdown and its effect on markets.
Those are the macro effects.  For the micro effects, in other words, how the shutdown is inconveniencing people, watch Here's how the government shutdown is affecting small business, also uploaded this morning.

CNBC's Kate Rogers reports on how the government shutdown, now entering its 28th day, is affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs all across the country.

Finally, Here are some key dates to watch for during the shutdown looks to the future.

"Squawk Box" reports on some of the top stories affecting the business world.
"End this already!"  I can't agree more.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

'Late Night with Seth Meyers' takes a closer look at the FBI investigating whether Trump worked for Russia


I told my readers yesterday to "stay tuned" as "I plan on posting Seth Meyer's take on this latest development about Trump and Putin's bad bromance."  Without any further ado, I present The FBI Investigated Whether Trump Worked for Russia: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at accusations that Trump worked for a foreign government and the federal government’s ongoing shutdown.
That was an impressive rattling off of all the times Trump and the people around him have met with the Russians in suspicious ways.  Oh, and Omorosa reporting that she saw Trump eating paper in the White House.  Seth was right; that should be the craziest thing about this administration, but it had been forgotten.

Enough of Trump-Russia for now.  Tomorrow, I plan on returning to the shutdown and after that the Sears Holdings bankruptcy.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert' examines the report that the FBI investigated Trump's possible covert relationship with Russia


I changed my mind since yesterday, when I wrote "If there continues to be no news about Sears, I'll see if Jimmy Kimmel has good videos on the topic tomorrow."  Yes, Reuters and CNBC reported Sears stores to stay open after Lampert prevails in bankruptcy auction with a $5.2 billion bid, but that won't be official until Friday, when the offer goes before a bankruptcy judge, who could turn it down.*  As for Kimmel, his bits and skits about the shutdown pale in comparison to the latest shiny object, the revelation that "the FBI launched a secret counter-intelligence investigation into President Donald Trump’s possible covert relationship with Russia."  For that, I return to "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," beginning with Stephen asking Is Donald Trump Working For Russia?

Working hard for Russia or hardly working for America?
Evil or stupid — why not both?

Even before the monologue, the show was on the topic, opening the writers imagining The Interpreter's Notes From The Trump-Putin Meeting.

The Late Show obtained (and put back together) the interpreter's notes from the Trump-Putin meeting.
Haha.  That was on Monday.  Last night's show also opened with a segment about Trump's actions involving Russia, Grimace Puts Trump On The Hot Seat.

Donald Trump has finally agreed to sit down and answer questions... from Grimace.
Yes, that's based on a real McDonald's commercial from 2002.

Finally, Stephen described The Art Of The Doing Whatever Putin Asks You To.

President Trump floated an idea so crazy that it just might work... to Putin's advantage.
TrumpNATO/Trumpnado?  I like the pun, even if I don't like the idea.

I'll return to the shutdown after tomorrow, when I plan on posting Seth Meyer's take on this latest development about Trump and Putin's bad bromance.  Stay tuned.

*I promise to report on the judge's ruling when it comes down.  Until then, consider Sears and KMart "not dead yet."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Seth Meyers takes closer looks at the border wall and the shutdown


"I may get around to Seth Meyers tomorrow, but that's only if there is no news about Sears Holdings doesn't announce its liquidation."  That's what I wrote yesterday.  Since I couldn't find anything about the results of the bankruptcy court hearing or the auction at midnight, I'm going to blog about what Seth Meyers had to say about the shutdown over the border wall.*

I begin with the first of three closer look segments on the subject, Trump to Give Primetime Address on the Shutdown: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the continuing government shutdown and President Trump announcing a primetime address to repeat his lies.
Meyers said the same thing that Colbert did in response to the question about using emergency powers; stop giving Trump any bad ideas.  I agree.

Two days later, the Seth Meyers got photobombed by Andy Samberg in Trump's Wall Has Changed a Lot: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump's primetime address on the government shutdown that he started over his border wall.
This looks a lot like John Oliver's take from three years ago, but I don't mind.  The facts need repeating.

The third and final closer look from last week was Trump Goes to the Border Amid Shutdown: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump traveling to Texas to make the case for his border wall as the government shutdown drags on.
I see Seth found another way to make fun of Trump's description of how people get into the U.S., first Wile E. Coyote, then Siri after a smartphone has been dropped into a toilet.  Both work for me.

I close with one of Seth's guests, Chris Hayes Says Trump Doesn't Understand the Government Shutdown's Consequences.

Chris Hayes unpacks Trump's obsession with a southern border wall and talks about his personal efforts to not cover some aspects of the 2020 election.
Chris Hayes is right; there isn't a lot about the shutdown that could directly affect Trump outside of air travel and income taxes.  That's too bad, as it needs to be about him for it to matter to Trump.

Seth also covered the shutdown in his monologues, but the jokes, images, and analysis in the closer look segments are almost always superior, so I'll stick with those.

If there continues to be no news about Sears, I'll see if Jimmy Kimmel has good videos on the topic tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

*In the morning, Bloomberg reported Sears Is Said to Extend Talks on Lampert's Plan to Rescue Chain, so still nothing definitive on whether Sears Holdings will be liquidated or not.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A week of the government shutdown from 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert'


While my wife and I were watching MSNBC's coverage of the shutdown last week, I repeated my observation that "I could write a post for every day that it has lasted and not run out of bad things to say about it."  She then asked me if I had seen part of a Stephen Colbert monologue about it.  No.  So she showed me it.  It was hilarious.  So I told her, Colbert's next, as I just posted 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' on the shutdown.  After Colbert, Seth Meyers then Jimmy Kimmel — at least, that's what I told her.

Still, she inspired me.  Without any further ado, here's a week of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on the shutdown over the border wall.

"The Late Show" began with Yogi Bear In 'Government Shutdown'.

Yogi and Boo-Boo come up with a solution to the trash build-up that has resulted from the government shutdown.
As a former National Park Ranger, this situation pains me personally.

Colbert then tied the return of his show to the shutdown in his monologue Stephen Is Back, The Government Is Not.

Stephen is back from hiatus. The government is not.
The monologue continued in Trump Claims He 'Can Relate' To Unpaid Workers.

Turns out the government does a lot of things. Who knew?
That was just the first night.  Follow over the jump for clips from the next four.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

John Oliver on the border wall, a blast from the past


While covering the shutdown over Trump's border wall, I realized that I never wrote an entry featuring Last Week Tonight with John Oliver's segment on the Border Wall from 2016.  So for today's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm presenting it as a blast from the past.*

Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S-Mexico border. Is his plan feasible?
Nearly three years later, this video has held up surprisingly well.  I found it just as timely, informative, and funny as I did when I first watched it.  I hope my readers do, too.

I plan on posting more coverage of the current shutdown again tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

*Normally, I would have posted something about the Critics' Choice Awards just as I did for "Vice" at the Golden Globe Awards, but I'm not feeling like working that hard today when there is an entertainment angle on a more pressing topic.  When I get fed up with reality, I'll be motivated to write about awards shows again.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' on the shutdown


I wrote "I could write a post for every day that it has lasted and not run out of bad things to say about it" in The shutdown is disrupting American science.  I'm not alone.  "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" had segments on the shutdown over Trump's border wall all this week and uploaded a video a day on the subject.  So, instead of writing my own material, I'll outsource it to Noah and his writers.

I begin with the first segment, Noah explaining Here’s What Will Happen if Trump Declares a State of Emergency.

Trump threatens to declare a national emergency in order to get his border wall built, which would give him the power to shut down communications facilities, freeze bank accounts and deploy the military domestically.
The next day, 'The Daily Show' had two segments on the wall and the shutdown.  First, Noah mocks Trump’s Oval Office Address: Sniffing and Scaring the S**t Out of People.

After threatening to declare a national emergency over border wall funding, Trump gives a fearmongering address from the Oval Office, followed by an awkward rebuttal from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Next, Noah examines the suffering and damage caused by the shutdown in The Government Shutdown and Trump’s Escalating Wall Gambit.

As Trump’s border wall demands prolong the government shutdown, national parks and federal employees both suffer, and Michael Kosta steps up to make things a little better.
While the shutdown is providing great fodder for talk show hosts, it is messing with Americans' entertainment in other ways, such as the panda cam being turned off.  Americans do not like people messing with their entertainment.

Trump made outlandish and fantastic claims about government workers supporting the shutdown.  Noah and his crew addressed those assertions and more in Shutdown Day 20: Trump Heads to the Border.

President Trump defends holes in a border wall prototype and holes in his financial plans for the Mexico-funded barrier.
No, federal employees being furloughed and working without pay do not support a shutdown for a border wall.

In the final segment uploaded to YouTube this week, "The Daily Show" invites its viewers to a game of Bordersnatch: One Wall, Infinite Possibilities.

Choose your own shutdown narrative.
Trump certainly is playing this game.  He may think it is fun.  I'm not so sure about the rest of us.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The shutdown is disrupting American science


While Sears Holdings, JCPenney, and Macy's are contracting in the face of the Retail Apocalypse, the partial government shutdown over funding for Trump's border wall.  I could write a post for every day that it has lasted and not run out of bad things to say about it.  I'll start by sharing the following segment from PBS NewsHour, With the government shutdown, American scientific progress is disrupted.

Even scientists who don’t work for the government, but receive federal money for research and grants, are among the hundreds of thousands of Americans affected by the government shutdown, now in its 19th day. That means important work and research may be put on hold, or even canceled. William Brangham talks to Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for details.
This is all awful, but the worst part is that we've seen this all before and knew exactly how it would play out for science.  Seeker/DNews uploaded The Impact of the Gov't Shutdown on Science in 2013 and it works almost as well for the current impasse.

A full government shutdown is in effect here in the US. And it's having a pretty significant impact in the science world. Trace details that impact, and explains its potentially long-lasting effects.
For good measure, I wrote about the effects of the 2013 shutdown on science, which was shorter than the current one, in Shutdown and science from campuses on the campaign trail and Daily Kos.  Almost all of that could be reused now.  So could Effects of the shutdown from local news, in which I wrote "one week of shutdown takes 0.1% off the GPD for a quarter."  That's still true and it could speed up the arrival of the next recession, which I predict will begin in the second half of this year.  Yikes!

ETA: As I was writing the above, DNews/Seeker uploaded a video updating the one I used from six years ago, How a Government Shutdown Screws Up Scientific Research.  Here it is.

Thousands of scientists were sent home on temporary non-paid leave, what does it mean for the research they had to leave behind?
...
Toll on Science and Research Mounts as Government Shutdown Continues
“A shutdown has these cascading effects on the scientific work of the organization,” said Daniel M. Ashe, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “They’re hard to foresee or predict right now, but they’re crippling, really, and they affect the organization not for three or four weeks, but for the rest of the year because of all of this complex orchestration of field work.””

Another Casualty of the Government Shutdown: Hurricane Preparedness
“EMC, the Environmental Modeling Center—they’re the main point of contact for improving the Hurricane Center models, and really the Weather Service model in general. And that organization is basically furloughed; there's very few staff working now. Every fiscal year they set out to improve [some] model, and they have timetables to meet. And now we’re in the third week here. Delays for a day or two—that can easily be absorbed. But the longer this goes on, the more likely it is to have negative consequences down the line.”

Government Shutdown Causes Slowdown In Scientific Research
“It does have a lingering impact because a lot of this work is work that's ongoing at such an incredible pace right now that interrupting that really sets a lot of that work back. And also, just recovering from the lost opportunities for people to get together, it's going to take some months to really be able to rebuild some of those opportunities in new and different ways.”
Almost perfect timing on Seeker's part.  As for the shutdown, the new video shows that it's even worse than I thought.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

JCPenney and Macy's also closing stores in 2019, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse


I have more news on how JCPenney and Macy's are faring in the Retail Apocalypse today, as Wochit Business reported yesterday Macy's and JCPenney Are Closing Stores.

Retailers JCPenney and Macy's have started off the new year with store closings. Business Insider reports that the two department-store chains are looking to trim down on expensive real estate to cut costs and boost growth. These closings follow embattled retailer Sears who also announced more than 260 store closings since it filed for bankruptcy in October.These department-store chains have come under pressure as spending increasingly shifts online and foot traffic to stores slows.
Business Insider, the source of the Wochit Business video, had more details.
On Tuesday, JCPenney reported disappointing holiday sales numbers and announced that it would be closing three stores in the spring. More would follow, it said, adding that these would be announced in its upcoming quarterly earnings results in February.

JCPenney isn't alone. Macy's has quietly announced a string of store closings in the upcoming months, including one store in Massachusetts, its last remaining store in Wyoming, and another in Indianapolis.
I may be done with the Sears Holdings bankruptcy for now, but the Retail Apocalypse continues to claim victims.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Sears Holdings still 'not dead yet' as deadline extended for rescue offer


I told my readers to "Stay tuned" as "I'll have more tomorrow on Fast Eddie Lamprey's rescue effort, regardless of how it turns out" at the conclusion of Sears Holdings announces 80 more stores closing while company on verge of liquidation.  I was expecting that CNBC would have the final word in Sears plans to liquidate after after 126 years in business.

Sears Holdings has rejected Chairman Eddie Lampert’s bid to save the 126-year-old company, setting the storied retailer with more than 50,000 employees on a path to liquidation, people familiar with the situation told CNBC on Tuesday. Sears, which also owns Kmart, planned to announce its liquidation plans Tuesday morning, the people said.
That's not yet to be, as Wochit News reported soon after that Millionaire Chairman With Hopes To Save Sears Is Revising Offer.

Sears Holdings Corp agreed on Tuesday to consider a revised takeover bid from a billionaire. Chairman Edward Lampert could temporarily stave off a liquidation, reports Reuters.com. The liquidation in question would have ended the 126-year-old U.S. department-store chain. Lampert’s latest attempt to rescue Sears came after his previous $4.4 billion bid fell short. This prompted the retailer to make liquidation preparations ahead of a bankruptcy court hearing in New York.

An attorney for Sears states Lampert is expected to submit a revised offer and a $120 million deposit. Sears will weigh Lampert’s offer against a proposed liquidation during a Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction. Should Lampert’s offer falter again, he will forfeit more than $17 million from his deposit to Sears creditors.
Unless Fast Eddie Lamprey misses making his deposit today, that means there likely won't be any news until Monday, which means I probably won't write any more on this story until Tuesday.  Even then, I am not optimistic his offer will win out over the other bids in the bankruptcy auction or succeed in keeping Sears and KMart open until the end of the year.  I fully expect to write a series of obituary posts for both chains, just as I did for Toys R Us.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sears Holdings announces 80 more stores closing while company on verge of liquidation


I wrote that I was planning on writing about the likely deaths of Sears and KMart today after asking is JCPenney the next Sears?  It's time to follow through by sharing WXYZ's report from December 28th of last year that Sears to close 80 more stores.

Sears has announced that it is closing the store location at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. The company is set to close 80 more stores across the country.
The end was not as nigh as the WXYZ report made out, as CBS Philly reported that night that Sears Wins Reprieve From Liquidation.

Sears may have been saved from liquidation just hours after announcing the closure of more stores.
The report extended the lifespan of sears by two weeks.  In doing so, it put my prediction that "the Twelve Oaks Mall location in Novi...would be open until the entire chain goes under" in jeopardy.  That would be especially so if the bid is accepted.  However, CNBC places that in doubt, reporting It's lights out for Sears on Tuesday unless Eddie Lampert can sweeten his bid.
Sears and its chairman, Eddie Lampert, have been so far unable to resolve disagreements over his $4.4 billion bid to save Sears and 50,000 jobs by buying it out of bankruptcy through his hedge fund ESL Investments, people familiar with the situation tell CNBC.

Sears continues to inch toward liquidation, even while leaving Lampert room to have a last-minute about-face. Sears advisors this past Friday had told the bankruptcy judge it planned to announce a liquidation on Monday, one of the people said. By Sunday afternoon, Sears had decided it would give ESL until Tuesday morning before coming to and announcing a conclusion.

ESL's advisors worked through the weekend and into Monday. So far, Lampert's bid is insufficient. If he doesn't agree to concessions, the company will liquidate.
I have a feeling that Sears may go into liquidation today.  If so, this really was the last Christmas for Sears, which means I would be right when I wrote "Sears and KMart are not dead yet...but it probably won't be long."  In that case, my prediction that the Twelve Oaks location will be open until the entire chain goes under will turn out to be correct.  In this case, I'd almost rather be wrong.

I'll have more tomorrow on Fast Eddie Lamprey's rescue effort, regardless of how it turns out.  Stay tuned.

Monday, January 7, 2019

JCPenney stock falls below $1, prompting the question, 'is JCPenney the next Sears?'


While I've been busy covering the Sears Holdings bankruptcy, another department store chain has been having its own difficulties during the Retail Apocalypse, JCPenney, which I promised to write about in July 2018 and only now am getting around to.  CNN reported late last month that its stock fell below $1.00, always a bad sign.  That news prompted Eric of Retail Archeology to ask Is JCPenney The Next Sears?

A lot of bad news has come out recently about JCPenney. Let's talk about it while check out one of [their] stores during a time when it should be very busy.
Eric isn't the only one to make that comparison.  Forbes did as well, declaring 2019 Will Be The Year JCPenney Flips -- One Way Or Another.
It’s JCPenney’s turn in 2019.

If 2018 was the year Sears finally succumbed to the inevitable, and the year before marked the beginning of the end for Toys "R" Us, then this new year will be all about JCPenney.

Not that the retailer is going out of business, though that could be its ultimate fate. More likely, whatever happens to the beleaguered company over these next 12 months there will still be a JCPenney in the marketplace.

But 2019 will clearly be the year when the attention of creditors, financial institutions and, perhaps most importantly, the company’s vendors will be most focused on what the retailer does to survive. And JCPenney will need to address all of their concerns—one way or another.
This crisis has been a long time coming.  Eric uploaded an earlier video on JCPenney during April 2017.  In it, he wondered how long the chain would last, giving it the title JCPenney 1902 - ????

This episode features video tours of 2 JCPenney locations in the Phoenix, AZ area. JCPenney has begun to face financial difficulties and recently announced they would soon begin closing some stores.
As Eric pointed out in the later video, things have gotten worse since.

While the likely deaths of Sears and KMart have been attracting most of the attention during the Retail Apocalypse, the latest developments in which I plan on writing about tomorrow, the travails of JCPenney are coming to a head.  The conclusion of the Forbes article makes that very point.
Something is going to happen with JCPenney this year—something big. The retailer cannot keep going on as it has, its window is rapidly closing in the best traditions of that cliché.

With a market cap of barely $340 million, there isn’t too much breathing space left as the company has lost nearly 90% of its value. And it continues to dance dangerously around a threshold that was once inconceivable: JCPenney as a penny stock.
Looks like I've found the next big Retail Apocalypse story to follow.  Stay tuned.