Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Drinks for the candidates who didn't make the debates

Yesterday, I promised
to share drinks for the candidates who are still campaigning, but haven't made either debate.  I'm following through, not because I expect they'll make any future debates, but because I want their supporters to have something to drink while they're watching other candidates debate. I also want to be prepared for when they eventually drop out, just as I did for Eric Swalwell earlier this month.  Follow over the jump for the candidates and their drinks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Michigan media excited about covering this week's Democratic debates

With the second round of Democratic presidential debates here in Detroit tonight and tomorrow, the local media is having a field day covering them and enjoying having the national spotlight shining on Michigan and especially on Detroit.  I begin with WDIV setting up the coverage and explaining what's at stake in Preparing for Detroit's Democratic presidential debates.

CNN is airing the Democratic National Committee-sanctioned debates live from the Fox Theatre in Detroit at 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
WDIV did a good job of setting things up and capturing the reactions of people on the street.  However WXYZ excels at interviewing the residents of Metro Detroit.  Watch TONIGHT: First of two Democratic debates in Detroit for more spontaneous reactions from locals as well as the preparations the city is making or the debate.

Jennifer Ann Wilson previewed the topics in the next video, Detroit: First of 2 Democratic debates tonight.

Yes, these debates are like the Hunger Games (or the Hungry for Power Games) in that they will eliminate candidates (tributes) as they go along.  WOOD-TV made that an explicit focus in its segment, 2nd Dem debate will be some candidates' last chance to shine.

Democrats gathering in Detroit for a pivotal presidential debate will have to decide, once again, how to respond to President Donald Trump while presenting their own vision for the country.
For supporters of the candidates who made this week's debates, I have drinks for the Democratic candidates, including a few for Steve Bullock, who replaced Eric Swalwell in the second round.  As for the candidates who made neither debate, I plan on posting drinks for them tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is the earliest ever, again

Last year, I wrote Earth Overshoot Day 2018 is the earliest ever.  That was on August 1.  Today is Earth Overshoot Day 2019 and it's three days earlier on July 29.  That's moving the date in the wrong direction.

For a visual illustration of what the day means, watch Earth Overshoot Day from the WWF.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day falls on 29 July. It means we’ve already used a whole planet’s worth of resources this year. We are over overfishing, over harvesting, over consuming and over polluting more than our planet can sustain.

We can all make a difference to move the date for Earth Overshoot Day and create a sustainable future.

Find out what your ecological footprint is and how you can reduce it today.
This was my footprint last year.
I calculated my environmental impact at Global Footprint Network and found out that if everyone followed my lifestyle, humanity would need 3.8 planets and that my personal Earth Overshoot Day would be April 5th.  Eep!  That's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm less of a resource hog and waste producer than the average American, whose lifestyle would require 5.0 planets to sustain it if all 7.6 billion of us followed it.  I require 6.6 global hectares to support me, while the average American requires 8.22.
This year, I found out that if everyone lived like me, humanity would need 3.5 planets and that my personal Earth Overshoot Day would be April 14th.  Progress!  I'm not at my current goal of having the impact of the average German, which is 3.2 Earths, but I'm getting there.

Last year, I found out one of the things that increased my footprint was my diet.  I was eating too much meat, which meant a full two hectares to feed me.  I cut down a bit on the meat I ate and it made a difference.  I now require 1.9 hectares for my diet.  Again, progress.  The Global Footprint Network has more tips in Food and the Ecological Footprint.

How much does food contribute to our Ecological Footprint? Did you know food recommended by nutritionists are also better for the planet? Find out what you can do to reduce our food Footprint in this fun animated video.
Here's to eating more locally produced plant-based food and less meat to make headway on my progress to having a smaller footprint and moving the date in the right direction!

'Better Call Saul' vs. 'Riverdale' for Best Action/Thriller TV Series again plus home entertainment nominees at the 2019 Saturn Awards

"Stay tuned," I told my readers at the end of 'Supergirl' vs. 'The Flash' again for best superhero show on television plus 'Marvel’s Daredevil' leads streaming superhero nominees at the 2019 Saturn Awards, "for...I plan on making the last post of the series for July about the nominations from the action/thriller television nominees and the home entertainment entries."  It features a familiar rivalry, "Riverdale" vs. "Better Call Saul," the same top two shows in this category last year.  In this way, it's similar to the fantasy and superhero television categories with repeat top two shows.

Best Action/Thriller Television Series

    Better Call Saul {AMC)
    Killing Eve  (BBC America)
    The Last Ship  (TNT)
    Mr. Mercedes (Audience TV Network)
    The Purge  (USA Network)
    Riverdale (The CW)
    The Sinner  (USA Network)

"Better Call Saul" leads this category nominations with four, followed by "Riverdale" with three, "Killing Eve" and "The Sinner" with two, and "Mr. Mercedes," "The Last Ship," and "The Purge" with one.  In any other year, I'd be voting for either "Better Call Saul" or "The Sinner."  This year, I'm voting for "Killing Eve."  It may not win, as "Better Call Saul" won last year and "Riverdale" the year before.  Between the two, I give the edge to "Better Call Saul."

Now the nominees in the home entertainment categories from the Saturn Awards website along with my votes.
Best DVD / BD Release:

Fahrenheit 451 (HBO)
Jonathan (Well Go USA)
Kin (Lionsgate)
King Cohen (La La Land)
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (Warner)
Time Freak (Lionsgate)
My vote is for "Fahrenheit 451," which I was expectin to see in Best Presentation on Television.  Unfortunately, that award has been discontinued, even though there are plenty of science fiction and horror movies on television.  Too bad, as I was looking forward to voting for "Bird Box."
Best DVD / BD Classic Film Release:

2001: A Space Odyssey (4K)(Warner)
Deep Rising (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Jack the Giant Killer (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Maximum Overdrive (Lionsgate/Vestron)
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
The Spiral Staircase (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
2001: A Space Odyssey.
Best DVD / BD Special Edition Release:

12 Monkeys (Collector’s Edition) (Arrow)
The Changeling (Limited Edition) (Severin)
Crimson Peak (Limited Edition) (Arrow)
A Fistful of Dollars (Special Edition) (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Horror Express (Special Edition) (Arrow)
Waterworld (Limited Edition) (Arrow)
12 Monkeys, although the competition is very stiff.
Best DVD / BD Collection Release:

The Bloodthirsty Trilogy (Arrow)
The Complete Sartana (Arrow)
Jack Ryan: 5 Film Collection (4K) (Paramount)
The Matrix Trilogy (4K)(Warner)
The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
Universal Classic Monsters 30 Film Collection (Universal)
The Matrix Trilogy.

Follow over the jump for the television acting nominees from 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Outlander' at the 2019 Saturn Awards along with my comments on the actors nominated from action/thriller shows and their competitors.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

'Supergirl' vs. 'The Flash' again for best superhero show on television plus 'Marvel’s Daredevil' leads streaming superhero nominees at the 2019 Saturn Awards

Just like the fantasy television category, which is headlined by "Outlander" or "Game of Thrones" for the fourth year, the superhero television nominees feature a familiar rivalry, "Supergirl" vs. "The Flash."  File 770 lists both of them among this year's nominees.

Best Superhero TV Series

    Black Lightning    
    Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger  
    DC’s Legends of Tomorrow  
    The Flash

"Supergirl" leads this category with four nominations, followed by "The Flash" with three, "Gotham" with two, and all the rest, "Arrow," "Black Lightning," "Marvel's Cloak and Dagger," and "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," only have one.  Based on the nominations, "Supergirl" is the slight favorite and it won two years ago.  That's not guaranteed, as "The Flash" won last year and three years ago.  I'm not voting for either.  Instead, I'm going with the show the entertainment professionals like, "Gotham."

Best Streaming Superhero Television Series

    DC’s Doom Patrol   (DC Universe)
    DC’s Swamp Thing (DC Universe)
    Marvel’s Daredevil  (Netflix)
    Marvel’s Jessica Jones  (Netflix)
    Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix)
    Marvel’s Runaways (Hulu)
    The Umbrella Academy  (Netflix)

"Marvel’s The Punisher" won this category last year, the first year it was offered, but I don't think it's the favorite this year.  Instead, I think that honor goes to "Marvel’s Daredevil," which leads with three nominations.  "Marvel’s The Punisher" is in a three-way tie for second with "Marvel's Jessica Jones" and "The Umbrella Academy" at two nominations each.  "DC's Doom Patrol," "DC's Swamp Thing," and "Marvel's Runaways" each have just this one nomination.  While I've heard nothing but good things about "DC's Swamp Thing" and know that "The Umbrella Academy" is an homage to "DC's Doom Patrol," I'm voting for show based on the tribute instead of the original, "The Umbrella Academy."

Follow over the jump for the television acting nominees from 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Outlander' at the 2019 Saturn Awards followed by the streaming acting nominees from 'The Walking Dead' vs 'Fear the Walking Dead' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' vs. 'You' at the 2019 Saturn Awards along with my comments on the actors nominated from superhero shows and their competitors.

Samantha Bee explains how to get away with election interference

I told my readers to "Stay tuned" as ""I'm not done with this topic" at the end of Both Robert Mueller and Senate Intelligence Committee warn of Russian interference in U.S. elections, because "I plan on posting a humorous entry on it tomorrow featuring Samantha Bee and any other late-night comedians who weighed in on it."  It turned out to be just Bee explaining How To Get Away With Widespread Election Interference...Again!

Turns out the Russians interfered with the 2016 election! And they would have gotten away with it too, if not for the tough, unwavering stance of our fearless leader--wait, what’s that? They totally got away with it and are about to do it again? Jinkies!
I'm almost as disappointed that she didn't make the Scooby-Doo joke in her routine as I am that "Moscow Mitch" McConnell is blocking a bipartisan bill to increase election security as "socialism."  However, I'm not disappointed in the clip otherwise.  I learned more from seven minutes of reporting laced with comedy than I did in four clips of straight reporting I embedded in yesterday's post.

Speaking of learning more from comedy, follow over the jump for more from Bee on Russian trolls and agents from 2016 and 2017.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Both Robert Mueller and Senate Intelligence Committee warn of Russian interference in U.S. elections

I took a humorous look at Mueller's testimony on Thursday, which focused on Mueller not giving the Democrats everything they hoped for while the Republicans tried to discredit him and his investigation.  I'm glad I found a way to laugh at Wednesday morning's proceedings; otherwise I'd have been too disappointed.

I found Wednesday afternoon's hearing more to my liking, as it focused not on Trump, but on a topic I've been covering since 2015 with Putin's hackers and agents, Russian interference in U.S. elections and politics.  CBS News kicks off the reporting and commentary with Mueller warns Russia is still meddling in U.S. elections.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller says Russia is working to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election right now. He made the remark during his second hearing with the House Intelligence Committee. CBS News intelligence and national security reporter Olivia Gazis joins CBSN to discuss the top moments from Mueller's testimony.
I agree, Mueller was a lot more responsive and demonstrative on the subject of past, present, and future interfering by Russia than he was on Trump and his campaign's possible cooperation with Russia and obstruction of the investigation into it.  It's also something that Republicans and Democrats would be able to do something about if   Mitch McConnell weren't labeling a bill that pushes for election security as "socialist."  Keep that up, Turtle, and I'll start calling you "Moscow Mitch" as well.

Speaking of the U.S. Senate, Newsy uploaded a video about the Senate Intelligence Committee's report that Russia meddled in all 50 states.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a highly redacted report on interference in the 2016 elections Thursday.
PBS NewHour responded to that report by explaining how dated voting equipment exposes elections to interference.

Election security was in the news this week, as former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about the level to which Russia interfered in the 2016 election -- and plans to do it again. Now the Senate Intelligence Committee is releasing its own report on the problem. John Yang talks to the Democracy Fund’s Tammy Patrick about whether U.S. election authorities are prepared.
WDIV examined how Michigan is dealing with the problem in U.S. Senate report says Russia will try to interfere with 2020 election.

Both the Mueller report and a new report from the U.S. Senate say Russia interfered in the 2016 election and will try to do so again in 2020.
I'm glad to see Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on the job.  Let's hope she does a good job of protecting Michigan's elections from foreign interference.

I'm not done with this topic, as I plan on posting a humorous entry on it tomorrow featuring Samantha Bee and any other late-night comedians who weighed in on it.  Stay tuned.

'Westworld' vs. 'The Orville' and 'Doctor Who' plus 'Star Trek: Discovery' vs. 'Lost In Space' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I concluded 'The Walking Dead' vs 'Fear the Walking Dead' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' vs. 'You' at the 2019 Saturn Awards by telling my readers to "Stay tuned" because "The next installment of this series should be the science fiction nominees, both on TV and streaming."  I begin with a category I've been looking forward to for more than a year, as I knew it would match last year's Best Science Fiction Series, "The Orville," against the previous year's winner of the award, "Westworld."  File 770 lists both of them among this year's nominees.

Best Science Fiction TV Series

    The 100 (The CW)
    Counterpart (Starz)
    Doctor Who (BBC America)
    Krypton (SyFy)
    Manifest (NBC)
    The Orville (Fox)
    Roswell, New Mexico (The CW)
    Westworld  (HBO)

It should come as no surprise that I'm voting for "Westworld," which I consider to be the best science fiction program on TV.  It should also come as no surprise that I think "The Orville" is more likely to win.  As I wrote last year, "I think that show's best episodes haven't aired yet."  This year's episodes proved me right.  That written, the two are even in nominations with three each along with "Doctor Who."  "Krypton" has two nominations, while all the rest, "The 100," "Counterpart," "Manifest," and "Roswell, New Mexico," have one each.  I'm particularly happy to see "Manifest" here, even if I'm not voting for it.

"The Orville" is fake "Star Trek."  The real thing is nominated in the next category.

Best Streaming Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Action/Thriller Television Series

    Black Mirror (Netflix)
    The Expanse (Amazon)
    Lost in Space (Netflix)
    Good Omens (Amazon)
    Russian Doll (Netflix)
    Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
    Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon)

"Lost in Space" and "Star Trek: Discovery" both have five nominations.  "Good Omens," "Russian Doll," and "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" all have two, while "Black Mirror" and "The Expanse" each have one.  This is a very good field, but I'm sure the top two nominees are the favorites with "Star Trek: Discovery" having a slight edge, as it won Best New Media Series last year.  It's also the one I'm thinking of voting for.

Next, a category I normally would have examined with science fiction film nominees because of the Star Wars nominee, but the Saturn Awards weren't ready by Star Wars Day.  So, I'm covering it here for lack of a better available topic.

Best Animated Television Series

    Archer (FX)
    Duck Tales (Disney Channel)
    Family Guy  (Fox)
    The Simpsons (Fox)
    Star Wars Resistance  (Disney Channel)

Of course I'm voting for "Star Wars Resistance" and I think it will win.  As for the rest, it's a good field, but it's two nominees short.  Now I really regret not submitting my suggestions, which would have included "The Venture Brothers" and "Rick and Morty" if any of the episodes aired during the eligibility period.

Follow over the jump for the television acting nominees from 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Outlander' at the 2019 Saturn Awards followed by the streaming acting nominees from 'The Walking Dead' vs 'Fear the Walking Dead' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' vs. 'You' at the 2019 Saturn Awards along with my comments on the actors nominated from science fiction shows and their competitors.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Charming Charlie declares bankruptcy and will close all stores, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

Since CBS News uploaded the video I embedded in 12,000 stores are likely to close this year, including at least 313 Fred's, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse, another retail chain declared bankruptcy and announced it will close all its stores, Charming Charlie.  Fox 2 News in St. Louis had a brief segment in which it reported Charming Charlie to shutter all 261 stores after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Fashion accessories retailer Charming Charlie is going out of business...and will shutter all 261 stores in 38 states after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday.
Trending News posted a video which was about dollar stores succeeding, not Charming Charlie failing, so I won't embed it, but I will share the video description, which I found very informative.
Another retailer is going bust: Charming Charlie Holdings plans to close its remaining 261 stores after filing for bankruptcy protection for the second time in as many years. The clothing and accessories seller on Thursday said it had stopped online sales and expects to conclude its going-out-of-business sales by the end of August.

Privately-held Charming Charlie, which had stores and operations in 38 states, shuttered about 100 stores during its prior bout in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which began in December 2017 and lasted until April 2018. That effort at restructuring its operations and debt "were simply not sufficient to stabilize the debtors' businesses and ensure long-term profitability," according to its latest bankruptcy filing.

The company estimated having about $19.8 million in gift cards outstanding, and expects roughly $7.8 million of that to be redeemed. It asked the bankruptcy court for permission to honor gift cards for 30 days.
Rockstar Flipper looked at one of the stores that is already going out of business and selling its fixtures in Charming Charlies goes BANKRUPT !! Closing 260+ Stores.

The Retail Apocalypse rolls on.

'The Walking Dead' vs 'Fear the Walking Dead' and 'The Haunting of Hill House' vs. 'You' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

Welcome to the 4000th post on this blog in which I examine the horror television and streaming nominees at the 2019 Saturn Awards.  Zombies!

Without any further ado, here are this year's  television and streaming series nominees from File 770.

Best Horror Television Series

    NOS4A2 {AMC)
    American Horror Story: Apocalypse (FX)
    A Discovery of Witches {AMC)
    Fear the Walking Dead {AMC)
    Preacher {AMC)
    Supernatural (The CW)
    The Walking Dead  {AMC)
    What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

While I'm glad to see "Supernatural" nominated — I submitted it last year but it didn't make the cut — I'm voting for perennial winner "The Walking Dead," which I expect will continue its domination in this category.  It also has the most nominations of any horror television show, six, followed by "Fear the Walking Dead" with four.  The rest of the nominees in this category have only the one nomination for Best Horror Television Series.  Yes, it was that weak a year for "American Horror Story," which came in second in nominations among horror series last year.

Best Streaming Horror and Thriller Series

    Castle Rock (Hulu)
    Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
    The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
    Stranger Things (Netflix)
    The Haunting of Hill House   (Netflix)
    The Twilight Zone (CBS All Access)
    You (Netflix / Lifetime)

This is a new category, although I am not surprised it was created.  When I started to put together a list of submissions, which I never did submit, I had a streaming horror and fantasy list and included "Castle Rock," "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," and "The Haunting of Hill House" on it.  I listed "The Handmaid's Tale" under science fiction, while "Stranger Things" and "The Twilight Zone" became available after the original deadline.  I didn't have "You" listed at all, as I didn't find out about it until at the MTV Movie & TV Awards.  Instead, I had "13 Reasons Why" on my list.

If I adhered 100% to my policy of not voting for nominees that became eligible because of the extended deadline, I'd vote for "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."  However, I am such a "Stranger Things" fan that I am voting for it anyway.  It might win, too, but I think the favorite is "The Haunting of Hill House" with six nominations.  "You" is next with three, while my two favorites, "Stranger Things" and "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" have two each.  "Castle Rock," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "The Twilight Zone" have only one each.

Follow over the jump for the television acting nominees plus my comments on them from 'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Outlander' at the 2019 Saturn Awards.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Meyers, Noah, Bee, and Kimmel all take closer looks at Mueller's testimony

While I've been gazing fondly at the fantasy of the 2019 Saturn Awards, the history of  Apollo 11 50 years later and possibly returning to the Moon, and the reality of the Retail Apocalypse, politics kept going on.  Robert Mueller testified before two House committees yesterday, which inspired a lot of comedic reporting on late night television.  Seth Meyers made the most comprehensive effort as well as the first uploaded to YouTube in Mueller Says Trump Wasn’t Exonerated, Could Be Charged After Leaving Office: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony.
I was wondering how Meyers and his writers would end this segment.  Elizabeth Warren saying "crazy sh*t" was perfect.

The next late night mock news comedian to weigh in was Trevor Noah.  Watch Robert Mueller’s Congressional Hearing | The Daily Show.

During Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony, House Democrats and Republicans push dueling agendas, while Mueller repels attempts to milk him for damning soundbites, and to paint his investigation as a partisan attack on Trump.
Noah was not the only comedian to say that yesterday's testimony was The Muller Report: The Movie.  The title of Samantha Bee's segment did as well in The Mueller Hearings: The Movie | Full Frontal on TBS.

The television event of the summer has everything America loves: long-winded political testimony, close-up shots of aging white men, and the reminder that our president may have obstructed an investigation into foreign election interference!
I'm with Bee; all the evidence needed for impeachment already exists.  Congress just needs to act on it.

At the risk of going on too long, I'm finishing up with Jimmy Kimmel on Mueller Testimony.

Robert Mueller testified for more than six hours today with the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Donald Trump tweeted more than 20 times in a day, Rudy Giuliani did impressions on 'Fox and Friends,' and Melania prepares the White House for Christmas.
That was worth it, even though I decided to watch it only because the best image I could use to illustrate this entry had Kimmel in it.

Enough reality.  Stay tuned for a return to fantasy tomorrow with the 4000th post on this blog when I examine the horror nominees at the 2019 Saturn Awards.  Zombies!

'Game of Thrones' vs. 'Outlander' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I announced a shifting of gears at the end of Action, Thriller, Independent, and International Films at the 2019 Saturn Awards.
That's it for the movie nominees.  Tomorrow I start examining the television nominees beginning with fantasy.  Once again, it's "Game of Thrones" vs. "Outlander."
As I wrote in "Game of Thrones" vs. "Outlander" two years ago, "This is a rivalry that has been going on for as long as Best Fantasy Television Series has been presented and "Outlander" has won every time so far, which is twice."  Make that three times now, so I expect that "Outlander" will once again be the favorite.

So, what shows are competing to get beaten by either "Outlander" or "Game of Thrones"?  File 770 lists all the nominees.

Best Fantasy Television Series

    American Gods  (Starz)
    Charmed  (The CW)
    Game of Thrones  (HBO)
    The Good Place (NBC)
    The Good Witch (Hallmark Channel)
    The Magicians  (SyFy)
    Outlander  (Starz)
    The Outpost (The CW)

That's actually a good field of nominees.  "Game of Thrones" leads all television series with nine nominations.  "Outlander" has five, and all the rest have just the one nomination for Best Fantasy Television Series.  That written, I'm voting for the same show I voted for last time, "The Good Place."  If it won a Hugo, it's good enough to get my vote.

Follow over the jump for the television acting nominees, along with my predictions of who will win and who I plan on voting for.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Action, Thriller, Independent, and International Films at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I told my readers to "Expect more original content and less recycling tomorrow when I tackle the Action, Thriller, Independent, and International Films at the Saturn Awards" at the conclusion of 'Us' vs. 'A Quiet Place' at the 2019 Saturn Awards.  Here are this year's nominees from File 770.

Best Action/Adventure Film Release

    Cold Pursuit
    Escape Room
    John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
    Mission: Impossible – Fallout

"Mission: Impossible – Fallout" has three nominations, "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum" has two, and "Cold Pursuit," "Escape Room," "Glass," and "Skyscraper" all have one.  If I weren't trying to refrain from voting for nominees from the extended eligibility period, I'd vote for "John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum."  Since I am, I'm voting for "Mission Impossible: Fallout," which I predicted in January that I would be able to vote on at the Saturn Awards in this category.  I think it's a slight favorite to win, too.

Best Thriller Film Release

    Bad Samaritan
    Bad Times at The El Royale
    Dragged Across Concrete

"Bad Times at The El Royale" has four  nominations, "Destroyer" has three, "Dragged Across Concrete" and "Ma" both have two, and "Bad Samaritan," "Greta," and "Searching" all have one.  While I'm voting for "Destroyer" on the strength of Nicole Kidman's acting, I think "Bad Times at The El Royale" is the favorite.

Best Independent Film Release

    American Animals
    Anna and the Apocalypse
    The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot
    Summer of 84
    Tomorrow Man

"Mandy" is the only nominee with a nomination in another category for a total of two, which probably makes it the favorite.  That doesn't mean I'm voting for it.  Instead, I'm voting for "American Animals," a critically acclaimed true crime thriller.

Best International Film Release

    Ghost Stories
    The Guilty

"Shadow" has four nominations and "Burning" has three, while all the rest of the nominees have only one each.  While I think this makes "Shadow" the favorite, I'm not voting for it, in part because it became eligible with the extended deadline and in part because my choice, "Border," is an Oscar nominee, the only one in the field.  Not a one of the Foreign Language Film nominees from the Oscars earned a nomination, not even "Roma."

Follow over the jump for the other categories that include nominees who worked on the above from 'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards, including my comments on who I'm voting for as well as who I think will win.

12,000 stores are likely to close this year, including at least 313 Fred's, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

After an excursion to observe how the Retail Apocalypse is hurting chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday, it's time to return to retail chains and their stores.  CBS News reported last week Retailers expected to shutter 12,000 stores this year.

Low-price shoe company Payless alone is responsible for about one-third of the store closings expected this year.
Of all the chains listed, I've already covered Payless ShoeSource, Gymboree, Charlotte Russe, Family Dollar, Dressbarn, and Shopko.  The largest chain in terms of closings I haven't even mentioned yet is Fred's, which the video reports as announcing the closing of 313 stores.  That happened in three waves.  Twin States News in Alabama and Mississippi reported in April Fred's Closing 159 Stores during the first wave.

The next month, Local 24 in Memphis reported on the second wave that Fred's closing more stores, closing 104 more stores for a total of 263.

If everything went according to plan, all these stores have already closed.

This month, WLBT reported on the third wave of Fred's stores closing.

I was looking for 50 stores but found 49.  The math isn't perfect but it's close enough.

I plan on looking at the rest of the chains mentioned later this year, particularly GNC and Kay's Jewelers, both of which are probably victims of decreased foot traffic at their mall locations.  In the meantime, I'm leaving my readers with the following statistics from Business Insider, which forecast earlier this month Here's how many stores need to close across the US before the retail apocalypse ends, according to analysts by 2026.
  • Clothing: 20,700 stores
  • Consumer electronics: 9,800 stores
  • Home furnishings: 8,400 stores
  • Grocery: 7,310 stores*
  • Sporting goods: 5,900 stores
  • Office supplies: 1,930 stores
  • Home improvement: 620 stores
  • Auto parts: 60 stores
Looks like I'll be busy covering the Retail Apocalypse for quite a while.

*Remember that the conversation that led to Brick Immortar's video about Ruby Tuesday started off as a tangent from Erik of Retail Archaeology's observation about grocery store closings.  Looks like Erik is right about the sector.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

'Us' vs. 'A Quiet Place' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

"I plan on writing about another Emily Blunt movie tomorrow, when I cover the horror nominees.  Stay tuned."  That's how I ended 'Aladdin' vs. 'Mary Poppins Returns' at the 2019 Saturn Awards and that's how I begin today's entry.  Time to be a good environmentalist and recycle my comments about the Best Horror Film Release in How did my predictions for the Saturn Awards movie nominees compare to reality?
The extended deadline made the nominees for Best Horror Film Release look very different from my picks.
  • The Dead Don’t Die (Focus Features)
  • Halloween (Universal Pictures)
  • Hereditary (A24)
  • Overlord (Paramount)
  • Pet Sematary (Paramount)
  • A Quiet Place (Paramount)
  • Us (Universal Pictures)
I did get three, but the selection committee surprised me by selecting "Overlord" instead of "Suspiria" from last year's horror films.  However, "Suspiria" did not go away empty-handed, as it earned a nomination for Best Film Make-Up.  As for the three films from the expanded eligibility period, I think "The Dead Don’t Die" and "Us" are excellent choices, but I'm not sure "Pet Sematary" is better than "The Meg" or "The Nun."

I think the choice is between "A Quiet Place" and "Us."  I'm voting for "A Quiet Place," both on its merits and to protest the added three months of eligibility.
"Us" leads horror movie nominees with eight nominations.  "A Quiet Place" has five, "Pet Sematary" has three, "Halloween," "Hereditary," "Overlord," and "The Dead Don't Die" have two, and "Suspiria" has one.

Follow over the jump for the list of nominees and my commentary from 'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards plus any additional remarks about the horror nominees.

Apollo's legacy may be holding the U.S. back in space

I looked uncritically at NASA and the Trump Adminstration's goal of returning humans to the moon in Seeker on the U.S. returning to the Moon plus India's moon lander.  At the end, I also wrote "I plan on posting an entry in which I feature videos from both Verge Science and Vintage Space taking the position that the legacy of Apollo is actually hindering U.S. efforts to return to the Moon and go on to Mars.  Stay tuned."  It's time to examine the less helpful legacy of the Apollo program on future space flight, beginning with someone who went back to before the beginning of NASA and looked at key moments all the way up to today, Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage Space, who uploaded Apollo's Legacy is Keeping Us Grounded on July 20, 2019.

Coming from an space enthusiast who specializes in studying Apollo-era spaceflight, that's a strong thing to say.  She's not alone.  Verge Science also thinks the legacy of Apollo explains Why NASA hasn’t gone back to the Moon and does it more succinctly and with higher production values.

NASA has big plans to return to the Moon by 2024, and it’s banking on the historic Space Launch System (SLS) to get them there. But after years of delays and cost overruns, skeptics are questioning whether SLS should remain the biggest priority for NASA. As the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing approaches, we take a look at what the future of solar system exploration might bring.
Paradoxically, the memory of our success and how the U.S. achieved it may be holding us back now more than inspiring us.  That's depressing.  Here's to hoping that NASA can work through the issues of its own legacy of success.

Monday, July 22, 2019

'Aladdin' vs. 'Mary Poppins Returns' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I told my readers "the next installment should be about the fantasy film nominees, after I celebrate Souther" at the conclusion of 'Ready Player One' vs. 'Bumblebee' at the 2019 Saturn Awards.  I begin by quoting what I wrote about the nominees for Best Fantasy Film release in How did my predictions for the Saturn Awards movie nominees compare to reality?
As for which movies will make the list of nominees for Best Fantasy Film Release at the Saturn Awards, I offer the following: "Mary Poppins Returns," "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," "A Wrinkle in Time," "Disney's Christopher Robin," "The House With A Clock In Its Walls," and "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms."  Of all of them, "The House With A Clock In Its Walls" is the weakest nominee and the most likely to be replaced by another movie, probably one of "Rampage," "Mortal Engines," or "The Kid Who Would be King."
I had the least confidence in my ability to pick the nominees for Best Fantasy Film Release and I was right, as only two of my choices made it, although I can claim that it was because of the expanded deadline for nominees.
  • Aladdin (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Dumbo (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters (Warner Bros. / Legendary Pictures)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Toy Story 4 (Pixar Animation / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Yesterday (Universal Pictures)
Five of the seven films are from the three-month extension to the eligibility period, so of course I wouldn't have forecast them as nominees.  That written, those three months resulted in a much better field than would have happened otherwise.  Still, I'll be casting my vote for the better of the two films I predicted would earn a nomination, "Mary Poppins Returns."
After counting the nominations, I'm not as confident about "Mary Poppins Returns" winning, despite my vote.  "Aladdin" leads the fantasy film nominees with nine nominations, which might be the second highest of any movie at these awards, while "Mary Poppins Returns" has six, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" four, "Dumbo" three, "Toy Story 4" two, and "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and "Yesterday" one each.  "Aladdin" could very easily beat "Mary Poppins Returns."

Follow over the jump for the other categories in which the fantasty films have nominations.  I'm being a good environmentalist and recycling what I wrote for 'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards.

Seeker on the U.S. returning to the Moon plus India's moon lander

I made plans at the end of CBS Sunday Morning remembers Apollo 11 50 years later on National Moon Day.
I plan on writing about returning to the Moon, both India's planned unmanned landing and NASA's plans to land humans on the Moon in 2024, after I follow through on my promise to continue blogging about the Saturn Awards nominees and celebrate Souther.  Stay tuned.
Seeker has videos on both, beginning with NASA’s 2024 Moon Landing Mission Explained | Countdown to Launch.

Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon. With the announcement of the long awaited Artemis mission, NASA plans to send the first man and woman to the Moon's south pole by 2024.
I hope things go according to the schedule.  Even so, it would mean I'll have been looking forward to this day for 10 years when it happens.

Seeker also covered India's lunar landing mission in India Could Be the First to Land on the Moon’s South Pole.

The Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 was the first to discover water on the moon, and with the Chandrayaan-2, they could be the first to explore the surface on the Moon's south pole. These future discoveries could reveal the evolution of our solar system and beyond.
DW News covered today's launch itself in India moon probe Chandrayaan 2 launches into space.

India is on track to head to the moon today. The rocket that carries the Indian lunar lander Chandrayaan 2 just launched into space. This is India's second attempt to launch the lunar probe after a technical glitch caused the mission to be aborted just one hour before launch last week.
Good luck!

I'm not done with celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.  I plan on posting an entry in which I feature videos from both Verge Science and Vintage Space taking the position that the legacy of Apollo is actually hindering U.S. efforts to return to the Moon and go on to Mars.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Wombats singing 'Ice Cream' for a happy Souther on National Ice Cream Day again!

Happy Souther, a holiday John Michael Greer and I co-founded that falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Summer Solstice, the mascot for which is a wombat, an Australian animal.  Today is also National Ice Cream Day.  It turns out I was prepared for this last year.
The wombat approves...So might The Wombats, whose latest album includes the song "Ice Cream."  Seriously.  That's perfect for next year, when Souther will fall on July 21, which will once again be National Ice Cream Day.
Without any further ado, here are The Wombats singing "Ice Cream."

Looks like I've found the song for this fake holiday!

Of course, a celebration of Souther would not be complete without an ice cream recipe.  Here's How to make Spiked Ice Cream by Tipsy Bartender.

Watch as we show you how to make...SPIKED ICE-CREAM!  In this episode we are actually making our own ice cream from SCRATCH!  How badass is that?!  It's quick and easy, and can be done without an ice cream maker.  We make a delicious green mint chocolate chip ice cream spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream and Creme de Menthe liqueur.  This ice cream is awesome for a summer-time snack or you can double or triple the recipe for an adult birthday party--it would go great alongside any of our infused cake recipes!  Bon Appétit!
4oz Sugar
1 Egg
4 1/2oz Whipping Cream
4 1/2oz Heavy Whipping Cream
1 1/2oz  Milk
2 1/2oz Baileys
1 1/2oz Green Creme de Menthe
That's it for this fake holiday.  The next one is the original, Wester, which will fall on October 20th this year.  That's also National Brandied Fruit Day.  I'm thinking about the possibilities already.

'Ready Player One' vs. 'Bumblebee' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I promised my readers that this "series examining the Saturn Awards nominees should resume tomorrow with the science fiction film nominees" at the end of 'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards, so here it is, beginning with the science fiction movie nominees from How did my predictions for the Saturn Awards movie nominees compare to reality?
I listed three more science fiction movies this year than last, so in that regard, 2018 was a better year for the genre than 2017.  Still, this may be just as mediocre a year in terms of quality, although I don't think it was any worse.  In addition, I'm not too sure about where the Saturn Awards selection committee will place some of these films.  Some, such as "Rampage," "Pacific Rim: Uprising," and "Mortal Engines," might be classed as fantasy, "Alpha" as action, and "Upgrade" as horror.  That written, here is my projected field for Best Science Fiction Release at the Saturn Awards: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," "Solo: A Star Wars Story," "Ready Player One," "Bumblebee," "The Predator (2018)," and "Annihilation."
Here are the films that earned nominations for Best Science Fiction Film Release:
  • Alita: Battle Angel (20th Century Fox)
  • Bumblebee (Paramount)
  • Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom (Universal Pictures)
  • Ready Player One (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm Ltd. / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Sorry to Bother You (Mirror Releasing – Annapurna Pictures)
  • Upgrade (BH Tilt)
Four of my six picks made the cut.  As for the other two, I'm not sorry about "The Predator" not getting a nomination; I think it was the weakest of the six.  I am disappointed that "Annihilation" didn't get picked.  Still, the Saturn Awards are about entertainment not art and "Annihilation" was better art than entertainment.  However, that does not make the movies that were nominated any less worthy.  I mentioned two of them, "Alita: Battle Angel" and "Upgrade," as possible nominees in January, the former as a comic book movie and the latter as horror, and completely skipped over "Sorry to Bother You" at the time, because I just thought it was a comedy, not a science fiction film.  I finally noticed what it really was when I posted The highest grossing political speculative fiction films of 2018.  It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and Ray Bradbury Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Nebula Awards, so it's a legitimately good science fiction film.  As for my vote, it's going to Solo: A Star Wars Story.  That movie needs more love.
That written, I strongly doubt "Solo: A Star Wars Story" will win this award.  Instead, I think the odds on favorite is "Ready Player One," which has four nominations.  The next best science fiction film nominee, "Bumblebee," has two, while all the rest of the nominees, including "Solo," have only one each.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the categories in which the science fiction films have nominations.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I told my readers to "stay tuned for a look at how many of the highest grossing political speculative fiction films of 2018 earned nominations at the Saturn Awards" at the end of Drink to Steve Bullock making the second Democratic debate on National Daiquiri Day 2019 yesterday.  I also promised my readers the day before yesterday that I would write about "all the nominations for the comic book movies."  I can't fulfill both promises at the same time, so I'm going with the one I made first about the comic book movies and save the political angle for later, when I will have a better handle on it.

As a reminder, here are the nominees for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release along with my reaction from yesterday.
  • Aquaman Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Avengers: Endgame  (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Captain Marvel (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Shazam! (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony / Marvel Studios)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures)
The two bits of good news are that "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" got nominated here and for Best Animated Film Release and so I can claim credit for getting three right.  As for missing the other three, I chalk that up to the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, which oversees the Saturn Awards, extending the eligibility period up to the July 4th weekend, something that becomes obvious with the nomination of "Stranger Things," which was released on July 4th, in the streaming television categories.  That made "Avengers: Endgame," "Captain Marvel," and "Shazam!" eligible and all of them are better than "Deadpool 2," "Ant-Man and the Wasp," and "Venom," especially "Venom," although I'm not completely sold on "Shazam!" being that much better than "Deadpool 2."

As for which one I'd vote for, I'm likely to protest the films added because of the extension of the eligibility period by nearly three months by voting for "Aquaman" over "Captain Marvel."  Besides, I want to support one of the nominees for the 2018 Golden Coffee Cups for moviesLast year, I thought finessing the deadline to make "Black Panther" eligible was annoying.  It's nothing compared to this!  Also, it would be my effort to stop the trend of the award going to "MCU movies focused on single heroes, less well known ones, or both."  According to that pattern, "Captain Marvel" would be the obvious choice for the Saturn Awards electorate.
As much as I wrote about "Aquaman" vs. "Captain Marvel," neither is the leading comic book movie.  That distinction belongs to "Avengers: Endgame" with 14 nominations.  With a different electorate and a different awards history, it would be the odds-on favorite to win this category.  I'm not betting on it.

As for the other comic-book movies, "Aquaman" has six, "Shazam!" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home" each have four, "Captain Marvel" has three, and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and "Avengers: Infinity War" both have two.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the categories in which comic book movies earned nominations, which turns out to be all the categories for individual achievement in speculative fiction film plus Best Animated Film Release.

CBS Sunday Morning remembers Apollo 11 50 years later on National Moon Day

Happy National Moon Day!  To mark the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon, I'm sharing CBS Sunday Morning's restrospective of the mission, To the Moon! Apollo 11's great adventure.

Jeffrey Kluger, editor-at-large at Time magazine, recounts the human landmark of landing men on the lunar surface. Kluger talks with Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins and astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and, in archive footage, hears from mission commander Neil Armstrong about the achievement of the first Moon landing, and of the "magnificent desolation" they found there.
I was nine years old 50 years ago and I sat in front of the TV waving an American Flag while Armstrong and Aldrin landed and again when they walked on the Moon's surface.  I then scratched the date onto the label of a glass jar.  That jar is still sitting in the kid's bathroom of my mother's house where I grew up.

I plan on writing about returning to the Moon, both India's planned unmanned landing and NASA's plans to land humans on the Moon in 2024, after I follow through on my promise to continue blogging about the Saturn Awards nominees and celebrate Souther.  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Drink to Steve Bullock making the second Democratic debate on National Daiquiri Day 2019

Happy National Daiquiri Day!  I was planning on writing about Cuba today, but just as happened on National Mojito Day, a shinier object related to the campaign caught my attention, the lineups being set for the second set of Democratic debates in Detroit later this month.  As I forecast when I wrote about Eric Swalwell dropping out of presidential contest, Steve Bullock qualified for the 20th spot.  That means its a good opportunity to start making good on the promise I made at the end of Drinks for the Democratic debates, Part 2 to post drinks for the candidates that didn't make last month's debates.  I may as well begin with Bullock.

Since a search for Steve Bullock's favorite drink retrieved no favorite drink and Eater's article on Democratic candidates' favorite comfort foods listed his as a hamburger, neither were helpful.  However, Bullock is the Governor of Montana and it turns out that there is a Montana Cocktail.
2 ounces Cognac
1 ounce Dry Vermouth
1 ounce Port
Knoted lemon rind to garnish

Place the Cognac, Vermouth and Port into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Slowly stir the mixture for about 30 seconds and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish the drink with the knotted lemon rind and serve immediately.
The other choices are Whiskey Ditch (whiskey with water) and Moscow Mule.  My readers can use those if they wish, but I'd prefer the Moscow Mule be dedicated to the almost certain opponent of the Democratic nominee instead.

Of course, it's National Daiquiri Day, so I need to post a daiquiri recipe.  I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle All American Daiquiri from Drink to a drum corps 4th of July from The Cadets.

3 oz. (90ml) White Rum
4 oz. (120ml) Blue Curacao
2 oz. (60ml) Pineapple Juice
6 oz. Frozen Strawberries
4 oz. (120ml) Cream of Coconut
Splash Grenadine
Garnish: Whipped Cream/Cherry

1. Add ice, frozen strawberries, 2 oz of white rum and a splash of grenadine to a blender and combine until smooth.
2. Pour into base of glass and set aside.
3. Rinse blender and add ice, 1 oz white rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Blend well.
4. Layer mix on top of red layer and garnish with whipped cream and a cherry. Enjoy responsibly!
While the daiquiri has nothing to do with Bullock (I'd probably recommend it for Wayne Messam instead), my readers can feel free to use it for any candidate as a drink for the next debate.

I'll promise I'll post drinks for the candidates that didn't make either set of debates by the end of the month.  In the meantime, stay tuned for a look at how many of the highest grossing political speculative fiction films of 2018 earned nominations at the Saturn Awards.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

PBS Digital's Hot Mess asks 'are you scared enough by climate change?'

The last time I used the above image was in Record heat wave in Europe begins summer 2019, which was also the last time I wrote about climate change and the risks associated with it.  I'm using it again because Hot Mess uploaded a video today that asked Climate Change: Are You Scared Enough?

Maybe if you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention…

Climate change is scary, because it will negatively impact just about every part of our lives. But the conventional wisdom on how to talk about climate change and inspire people to do something about it has always been “don’t scare people”. At least until recently. In the past couple years climate scientists and climate journalists have started talking in scarier and more worst case terms than ever before. Why? And is this a good thing? I talked to author David Wallace-Wells, author of “The Uninhabitable Earth” to learn more.
I liked David Wallace-Wells' insight that the Youth Climate Strikes, Sunrise Movement, Green New Deal, and candidates like Jay Inslee making climate change his signature issue have all developed after the release of the latest IPCC climate report, which described climate change and its effects in a more urgent tone.  Scaring people seems to be working.  I also agree with Wallace-Wells' emphasis on government action over individual action.  Although I'm trying to reduce my driving to decrease my environmental impact, not only on the climate, but also on air pollution, energy consumption, and oil depletion, I know it's not enough by itself.  I need more people to follow suit and politics is the best way to do so.

So, dear reader, are you scared enough by climate change?

How did my predictions for the Saturn Awards movie nominees compare to reality?

I made quite a few predictions about the Saturn Award movie nominees in The highest grossing speculative fiction films of 2018.  Since the nominations finally just came out, it's time to check how well my prognostications turned out.  Follow over the jump.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hurricane Barry cuts U.S. oil production plus a driving update for July 2019: Pearl

Yesterday, I told my readers to "Stay tuned for a driving update for Pearl the Prius."  That's because my car turned over 47,000 miles on Saturday, July 13.  I'll run the numbers of how I'm reducing my driving over the jump, but first I'm going to look at the effect Hurricane Barry is having on oil production and gas prices beginning with Tracking Barry: Gas prices could rise from WKRG in Mobile, Alabama.

You could be seeing higher gas prices thanks to tropical storm Barry. Rising oil prices have been causing the national average price of gas to increase in recent weeks. But the storm could cause some of the country's major gasoline refineries to shut down and drive prices even higher. There could also be supply problems. Overwhelming rain could also cause some refinery outages and constrict fuel supplies along the gulf coast.
That's a great description, which is why I bothered to embed the video, but the clip itself isn't very informative, which is why I left some constructive criticism in a comment: "This is good B-roll footage, but it needs one of your reporters to read the video description over it to make it worth watching."  That's why I'm also sharing Tropical Storm Barry's impact on gas prices from Fox 4 in Florida, which covered the same ground with snappier narration but a less informative description.

Experts believe Tropical Storm Barry could have major impacts on gas and oil prices.
At least part of the expected consequences occurred, as Wochit News reported in US Gov: Storm Barry Cuts 73% Of U.S. Crude Oil Production.

Crude oil production in the U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico has been drastically cut.
The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says Tropical Storm Barry has cut 73% of production.
Despite the cutback in oil production, Fox 4 reported two days ago Gas prices decline despite Barry in the Gulf.

Florida gas prices are down 5 cents this week.

Let's see how long that lasts.  If it does, drivers in the U.S. got off easy.

Follow over the jump to see how well I'm doing on reducing my driving and therefore my demand on oil and gasoline and my output of greenhouse gases and other air pollution.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

On The Issues shows most of the Democratic candidates have moved left during the campaign, too

I concluded Senators and Representatives running for the Democratic nomination are drifting to the left as they campaign by observing that the phenomenon was more widespread than just current members of Congress.
By the way, the leftward movement of Democratic candidates isn't only shown by the Voteview scores of the current members of Congress; it's demonstrated by the Vote Match scores of all the candidates at On The Issues, which is something I found out after I wrote Wayne Messam at On The Issues, take one.  Nearly every candidate has become more liberal either economically or socially, and a few have moved left on both axes.
My findings are that, of the 25 candidates and one former candidate that I have examined, On The Issues rates eight as having become more liberal economically, six have become more liberal socially, and five have become more liberal along both scales, while four have remained the same and two actually become more moderate economically, so a total of nineteen have become more liberal on one or both dimensions.  Follow over the jump to see which candidates have new ideological scores and how those scores now arrange the candidates from left to center.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

I told my readers to "stay tuned" at the end of John Oliver examines Amazon warehouses for Prime Day, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse, because "I have more on the Retail Apocalypse, as Brick Immortar uploaded a video on how the demise of malls is decimating Ruby Tuesday's and other bar-and-grill restaurants," but only after I wrote about Bastille Day.  The French national day is over and I posted Drink to a drum corps Bastille Day with the Boston Crusaders playing "Les Miserables", so it's time for me to follow through.

I'm beginning at the end of a story with Ruby Tuesday - Are Chain Restaurants The Next TO GO?: Lifeless Retail Food Edition!

Ruby Tuesday is one of many American chain restaurants that's just not faring well in recent times. Here's our look at a few that recently shuttered along with a glimpse at the bigger picture for these style of chains.
One would think that restaurants would be immune from online shopping, the usual suspect in the death of brick-and-mortar retail, and they are, at least from the direct effects.  However, as I point out to my students, everything is connected to everything else, so dead malls no longer bring in foot traffic, which means the restaurants inside them no longer have customers, so they close.  As Brick Immortar pointed out, Ruby Tuesday relied a lot on mall locations, so the Retail Apocalypse hurt them.  At least the two locations nearest me are still open, along with 489 others as of the start of the year, so the chain is not in immediate danger of going away everywhere, even if it's left most of Iowa and Nebraska, the home territory of Brick Immortar.

Also, reinventing a retail brand doesn't always work, as Brick Immortar also noted in Shopko liquidating, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse and repeated here.  I saw that happen with Bill Knapp's, which tried to reinvent itself with the slogan "That was then, this is WOW!"  That fell flat on its face and the chain, after first reversing course by proclaiming "the tradition is back," closed down for good a few years later in 2002.  All that's left of the brand are their cakes and donuts.

Other bar-and-grill format chain restaurants are closing as well.  The one that affected me most was the closure of Champps nearby.  My wife and I been going there since we moved into the area four years ago.  Then, one day I drove past and it was closed.  Perhaps I should consider myself lucky to have enjoyed it as long as I did; the other three locations in Metro Detroit closed in 2016 when the parent firm declared bankruptcy.

I wrote that I was beginning at the end of a story.  Follow over the jump for what I would like to think was my part in inspiring the video above.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Drink to a drum corps Bastille Day with the Boston Crusaders playing "Les Miserables"

Happy Bastille Day!  For the fourth year in a row, I am celebrating today as another drum corps holiday.  Three years ago, I featured Phantom Regiment's "City of Light" show.  Two years ago, I shared Cadets and Cadets 2 playing "Les Miserables."  Last year, I made it a double celebration by telling my readers to Drink to a drum corps Bastille Day 2018 with the Santa Clara Vanguard.  This year, I'm featuring the same corps that I did for May Day, the Boston Crusaders.

While The Cadets may have been the first corps to play selections from "Les Miserables" at DCI finals, they weren't the first Division I/World Class drum corps to use songs from the musical in a field show.  That distinction belongs to the Boston Crusaders, who played did so in 1988.*

Boston Crusaders 1988

Boston Crusaders included music from "Les Miserables" in the corps' 2011 show, but none of it made its way into the official clip from Drum Corps International.  Instead, the clip features the "1812 Overture," which, while it includes "La Marseillaise," celebrates a French strategic defeat at the hands of the Russians — not something France would enjoy being reminded of on the country's national day.

2011 Boston Crusaders

For as complete a video of the show, including almost all of "Les Miserables," as exists on YouTube, I'm sharing Boston Crusaders Full Run Through.

Boston Crusaders full run through on August 4, 2011. Their show this year is entitled "Revolution" I apologize for the wind. This run-through does not include the epic baritone solo. :(
ETA: Found another video of 2011 from the Boston Crusaders official YouTube channel that does include music from "Les Miserables."

Once again, a happy drum corps Bastille Day!

Follow over the jump for a drink for National Grand Marnier Day.