Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Doomsday Clock is now 90 seconds to midnight, the least remaining time ever — again

It's the time of year to update the Doomsday Clock. Watch The Doomsday Clock Is Closer to Catastrophe Than Ever Before from Time.

The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic tracker that represents the likelihood of human-made destruction, was updated Tuesday to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it’s ever been. It was the first time the clock had been updated since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Reuters explained the signficance of this event in What is the 'Doomsday Clock'?

Atomic scientists set the 'Doomsday Clock' in 2023 to 90 seconds to midnight – closer than ever before to the threat of complete annihilation of humanity. But what is the Doomsday Clock?
ABC News gave a historical perspective in Doomsday Clock: A look back.

Scientists revealed that the "Doomsday Clock" has been moved up to 90 seconds before midnight — the closest humanity has ever been to armageddon.

Here are past evaluations of how close we are to the end of the world.
The clock has been at 100 seconds to midnight since 2020, so moving the hands ten seconds closer is a big deal and bad news. I wish I could say I am surprised, but between the Russian invasion of Ukraine and 2022 being the fifth-warmest year on record, demonstrating that climate change remains a threat, the situation has become more dangerous. While the Reuters video showed clips related to the pandemic, I don't think it factored much into the decision to move the hands closer to midnight. On the other hand, artificial intelligence, depicted as a Boston Dynamics robot "dog" instead of the AI art and writing that is making news, may be causing more anxiety than I think the technology deserves, although I think I should still blog about the latest developments in mimicking human creativity. Just the same, this is one of the rare times when I use the doom label seriously.

So ends January 2023's blogging. Stay tuned for the first post of February.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Randy Rainbow sings 'Speaker of the House' for Kevin McCarthy

I've mentioned Randy Rainbow's Emmy nominations here, even writing "I have a soft spot for 'The Randy Rainbow Show,' which has been nominated for this category and its predecessor Outstanding Short Form Variety Series the past three years. I would like an independent YouTube creator winning against a field of network and streaming shows and spinoffs." However, I don't recall ever embedding one of his videos here. Now that he has created one for Kevin "Pickled Tongue" McCarthy in (dis)honor of McCarthy becoming Speaker after 15 ballots, it's about time I did. Take it away, Speaker of the House - Randy Rainbow Song Parody!

Parody of “Master of the House” from Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer...
In addition to mocking McCarthy, Randy Rainbow took shots at the Republican House majority, including George Santos. Easy targets, but well-aimed none-the-less.

By the way, Randy Rainbow included this news item in the video description: "Hey! I'm a 2023 Grammy Nominee for Best Comedy Album! Check out my debut album A LITTLE BRAINS, A LITTLE TALENT wherever music is sold or streamed." That reminds me that I haven't written about the Grammy nominees until today. It's now on my to-do list.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

'SNL' searches for comedy in classified documents

Happy Sunday! "Saturday Night Live" opened their show last night by making fun of the problem with classified documents, among other things, in Classified Press Conference Cold Open.

Attorney General Merrick Garland (Mikey Day) and FBI agents (Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Bowen Yang) give a press briefing on their search for more classified documents.
Believe it or not, this is only the second time I've mentioned Attorney General Merrick Garland on this blog, the first time being Meyers, Colbert, and Kimmel take closer looks at Biden documents, gas stoves, Trump investigations, and George Santos two weeks ago. The man's been in the news on and off since 2016, when then-President Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia, only to have "Grim Reaper" Mitch McConnell refuse to hold hearings to confirm him. I guess I was too confident in Hillary Clinton winning in 2016 so he could be confirmed. Instead, The Former Guy won, so he nominated and the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch instead. Sigh. At least SNL found a way to make Garland funny so he receives the attention he deserves.

The episode continued examining classified documents in Weekend Update: Trump's Facebook Reinstated, George Santos Admits to Dressing in Drag.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like Mike Pence saying he is "ready and willing to fully cooperate" with any questions about the classified documents found in his home.
Not only did both the cold open and this first segment of Weekend Update focus on the search for classified documents, both made fun of former Vice President Mike Pence. He should take that as a compliment of sorts, as Pence is relatively boring otherwise. I've only been blogging about him lately when he gets sucked into someone else's scandals. As Rick Wilson wrote, "Everything Trump touches dies."

Speaking of whom, TFG returning to Facebook and Twitter is a reversal of his 2021 bans. Just like Jost, I think it will work out as well as reopening Jurassic Park, a spectacular and entertaining disaster.

While Bowen Yang didn't return to play George Santos, Weekend Update did mention him, proving my prediction that he will be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news.

Both the Ticketmaster hearings and the closing of Splash Mountain at Disney World qualify this entry as the Sunday entertainment feature. Both news items tie into what I first wrote in 2011, "America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent." Both Ticketmaster and Disney messed with (some) Americans' entertainment, although I'm more sympathetic with the Swifties than those complaining about Splash Mountain. The former are reacting to a monopoly, while the latter strike me as a bit selfish and insensitive. Besides, I think it's about time that "The Princess and the Frog" gets its own attraction, while "Song of the South" was dated even when the ride opened in 1989.*

Follow over the jump for two more clips from last night's show.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

George Santos responds to his impersonators, who clap back

I predicted that George Santos would be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news. That continues to be true, even or especially if Representative Santos objects, as Inside Edition reported in George Santos Says All of His Impersonators Are ‘Terrible’.

Embattled Congressman George Santos isn't impressed with his late-nite impersonators. Comedian Jon Lovitz even did his best Santos impression on "The Tonight Show." But apparently, Santos doesn't find any of this funny. He tweeted: "I have now been enshrined in late-night TV history with all these impersonations, but they are all terrible so far." Lovitz responded by saying "My pathological liar character can’t hold a candle to you!"
I missed Lovitz's impression in Meyers, Colbert, and Kimmel take closer looks at George Santos, so here it is: Congressman George Santos Addresses the Rumors About Him | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Congressman George Santos (Jon Lovitz) stops by the Tonight Show to put rumors about him to bed, like him lying about working for Goldman Sachs and being Jewish.
Lovitz didn't have to do much more to update his pathological liar character from "Saturday Night Live" other than wear the right clothes and glasses and make the wheels spinning in the character's head less obvious to get Santos right. All he needed was an updated version of "Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that's the ticket" when asked if he's dating anyone to completely link his old character to Santos. He did refer to another of his characters, The Critic, when he said "it stinks!" Yes, it does, but it's funny.

Follow over the jump for two of the impersonators, including Bowen Yang, who dragged Santos in SNL's first show of 2023, talking about their experiences impersonating the Representative.

Friday, January 27, 2023

MLive asks 'Michigan is a climate haven in a warming world. Will everyone move here?'

I telegraphed today's topic at the conclusion of PBS Terra asks 'What is the RISKIEST Region in the US as the Climate Changes?'
I'm heartened to see that the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, along with Iowa, form the safest region from climate change. Half of the ten safest cities from climate change are in these states. As I wrote the last two times I examined this subject: "I'll take it. It reinforces my feeling that leaving California for Michigan has turned out to be a smart move, literally, the longer I live here." I just wish that the economics were such that people would move here instead of into harm's way. That would make a great subject for another post. Stay tuned.
MLive uploaded three videos on this subject, two last month and one this week. I begin with the most recent, which has the best preview image but a worse reading of the script, Michigan is a climate haven in a warming world. Will everyone move here?

In a warming world, Michigan stands out as a relative winner. With protection from the Great Lakes, Michigan will be spared from some of the worst effects of climate change, including extreme drought, intensifying hurricanes and wildfires.
Now for the better written and read video from December 2022, which has a weaker preview image, asking the same question: Michigan is a climate haven in a warming world. Will everyone move here?

Michigan looks increasingly attractive in a country where wildfires turn million-dollar mansions to ash in California, intensifying hurricanes sink homes along Florida’s coasts, and cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix face the alarming reality the Colorado River will no longer sustain them.

This state’s two peninsulas, meanwhile, have ample freshwater – the Great Lakes contain 90% of North America’s supply, lower temperatures, and vast swaths of undeveloped land.

Michigan is a climate haven. MLive's Lindsay Moore explains.
To answer the question MLive asked in both videos — no, literally not "everyone." After all, other states are also climate havens and they will also receive climate refugees. However, could tens of thousands if not millions move to the Great Lakes State and millions more to other climate havens? Absolutely.

I'm in favor of getting people to move here, both because it's a safer place to live (but not immune from the extreme weather associated with climate change as the second video mentioned) and because the state has room. Detroit alone lost more than one million people since its 1950 peak and other Michigan cities have lost people as well, so they alone could take up the slack — that is, if they can become better places to live and work. People moved out of Michigan to seek work, so state and local governments need to work with businesses to promote and create sustainable industries to employ the people who move here and rebuild infrastructure to support them in a warmer and, for Michigan, wetter world. Infrastructure and housing construction to accomodate people moving here will provide a lot of jobs by themselves, but that only lasts so long. Ask Las Vegas, for example.

I close today's post with MLive's interviews of the vanguard of climate refugees who have already moved to Michigan, Families flee climate crises to resettle in Michigan's haven.

Families explain their stories as they flee climate crises to resettle in Michigan's haven. (Kaytie Boomer, Jacob Hamilton, Sheri McWhirter, Cory Morse, Garret Ellison all with MLive.com)
Note that one family moved to Ann Arbor, a city that I can say from personal experience is already a great place to live and work, and another didn't need to live near work at all, so they could live anywhere. Both of them already had connections to the areas where they relocated, so I expect more of the early wave of migrants will be those already familiar with Michigan. If so, welcome back! Michigan missed you!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

PBS Terra asks 'What is the RISKIEST Region in the US as the Climate Changes?'

When PBS Terra revealed 'the Safest Place to Live as the Climate Changes', it begged the question of what the least safe places to live in the U.S. because of climate change. It asked and answered that question yesterday when the channel uploaded What is the RISKIEST Region in the US as the Climate Changes?

Climate Change is increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters all around the world. And in the United States, more and more people seem to be moving to the places that are projected to be most impacted by climate change, from hazards such as flooding, wildfire, storms, drought and extreme heat; and leaving the most climate-resilient areas. At first glance, this seems like a bizarre and paradoxical trend. So, for this episode of Weathered, we decided to see if we could get to the bottom of it.

We spoke to experts and sifted through lots of data about moving trends and shifting climate patterns to figure out what’s really going on here and what you can do to avoid moving into harm’s way.
While I expected the answer to be one of Florida, the Gulf Coast, or Arizona, all of which are high-risk areas, the answer to the question in the subject line turned out to be Beaufort County, South Carolina. That surprised me, just like Lamoille County, Vermont as the safest place from climate change surprised me. Still, it's enough to discourage me from moving to Arizona or Florida (Texas and Louisiana are not in the cards). On the other hand, I'm heartened to see that the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, along with Iowa, form the safest region from climate change. Half of the ten safest cities from climate change are in these states. As I wrote the last two times I examined this subject: "I'll take it. It reinforces my feeling that leaving California for Michigan has turned out to be a smart move, literally, the longer I live here." I just wish that the economics were such that people would move here instead of into harm's way. That would make a great subject for another post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Jon Stewart examines the problem with classified documents

With classified documents in the news, The Former Guy's, Joe Biden's, and now Mike Pence's, the most recent episode of "The Problem with Jon Stewart" Podcast couldn't have been more timely. Watch and listen to TOP SECRET: Our Classified Documents System Is [Redacted].

The media is chasing the classified documents fiasco like it’s spy vs. spy, Trump vs. Biden. But on this week’s episode, we’re breaking down the absurdity of a national security system that makes it so darn easy to hoard classified documents. We’re joined by Matthew Connelly, professor of history at Columbia and author of "The Declassification Engine: What History Reveals about America’s Top Secrets," who gives us the inside scoop on how unwieldy our system for keeping state secrets has become, who it’s really designed to protect, and how we might revamp it so that it actually, you know, can keep a secret.
I began watching this video in the hope that a deep dive with an expert would be more satisfying than laughing with the late-night talk show hosts about the latest revelations of discovered classified documents and I finished watching and listening it feeling that I made the correct choice. I hope my readers do, too. May they also enjoy it as much as they seem to have enjoyed Jon Stewart on the problem with George Santos, which is the most read entry so far this month.

Now that I've shared this video, and learned a lot of new things — it's always a good day when I learn something, even when it's as disturbing as what Stewart and Connelly discussed — I'll return to the jokes and monologues from Colbert and others. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

The Razzie nominees recognize 'the worst of cinematic under-achievements' from 2022

It's time for this year's Razzie nominations. Watch 43rd Razzie© Nominations.

Leading the pack of cinematic mongrels with 8 nominations for the 43rd Annual Razzie® Awards is Blonde, which movie-goers liked even less than critics did. Called a “biopic that’s not a biopic,” by its makers, it “explores” the exploitation of Marilyn Monroe…by continuing to exploit her posthumously. In addition to Worst Picture, it’s up for Worst Screenplay and Worst Director, both by Andrew Dominik, whose work here says more about him than it does about his subject.

Copping 7 dings is Good Mourning, a laugh-free stoner comedy achieving the rare feat of scoring a perfect ZERO on Rotten Tomatoes. The year’s most ridiculed movie, Morbius (with Worst Actor nominee Jared Leto in the title role) collected five nods. Disney’s wholly unnecessary (and oddly creepy) live action/CGI remake of Pinocchio pulled our voters’ strings to make it into six categories. Taking the pole position for Worst Supporting Actor is 2022’s most widely derided performance, Tom Hanks’ latex-laden, ludicrously accented portrayal of Col. Tom Parker in the otherwise critically acclaimed Elvis.

The 43rd Annual Razzie “Winners” will be unveiled, as is now Hollywood tradition, on “Oscar Eve” - Saturday, March 11.
The Razzies "helpfully" provided the following list of nominations per film in its press release.
Blonde = 8
Picture, 2 Supporting Actors, 2 Screen Couples, Remake, Director and Screenplay

Good Mourning = 7
Picture, Actor, 2 Supporting Actors, Screen Couple, Director and Screenplay

Disney’s Pinocchio = 6
Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Remake, Director and Screenplay

Morbius = 5
Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Director and Screenplay

The King’s Daughter = 3
Picture, Actress and Supporting Actress
As I noted last year, "the people behind the Razzies do not have the best math skills and attention to detail, so they make mistakes when counting nominations. This year was no exception..." For starters, "The King's Daughter" was not the only movie with three nominations. So is "Jurassic World: Dominion" with Worst Remake/Ripoff/Sequel, Worst Actress for Bryce Dallas Howard, and Worst Screenplay. Speaking of "The King's Daughter," the video misspelled Kaya Scodelario's name as Kaya Scoldelario, although the press release spelled her name correctly. I don't know if that was a mistake or an attempt at a bad punny joke. Either is possible, but given their track record of not paying a lot of attention to detail, I vote for mistake. Oops.

Just the same, I pay attention to the Razzies because they usually recognize the worst big-budget genre films and sniff out bad political films. They didn't disappoint me this year, as they recognized some poorly done genre films. Oddly enough, "Morbius" wasn't the most recognized, although I could see the nominations for the film and for its star Jared Leto coming a year ago.
Speaking of speculative fiction, Jared Leto will be starring in "Morbius," which premieres on April 1st — no fooling. His award fits a pattern I noticed six years ago.
In addition to the covert misogyny I suspect among the voters, there is overt Schadenfreude; the voters seem to delight in finding bad performances by big name performers and creators and using them to bring the highest low. I don't have a problem with that, so I find it to be a useful role for the Razzies.
I just hope his Razzie win doesn't ruin his reception as Marvel's "living vampire." Instead, I hope it helps for making people prepared for the comic, pun intended, dimensions of his anti-heroic character, which just might make the movie succeed.
That didn't happen, as I wrote last month.
"Morbius" took itself way too seriously. Its creators shot and acted it as a dramatic character study, not a comic book movie. That wasn't what the audience wanted, except to laugh at it.
That "Morbius" received five nominations doesn't surprise me. That "Disney’s Pinocchio" beat it with six nominations does, although I heard very soon after its release that it was disappointing. That it looks even worse compared to the Oscar-nominated "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" probably helped put it in first place among speculative fiction films.

"Jurassic World: Dominion" and "The King's Daughter" tied for third-worst speculative fiction films with three each. Both also qualify as bad political films, although just barely in the case of "Jurassic World: Dominion" Its satirical look at tech billionaires isn't as deft as "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" and government agencies barely make cameos. On the other hand, Louis XIV plays a major role in "The King's Daughter," which is also a fantasy involving mermaids and the search for immortality. Hmm, that sounds familiar, even more so since Scodelario starred in the next installment of the franchise.

The other speculative fiction nominees are "Firestarter" with two nominations and "Marmaduke," "Samaritan," and "The Requin" with one each. Eight bad fantasy, horror, superhero, and science fiction films! Add in two nominations for "The 355," a badly executed action movie with an interesting concept and the Razzies found nine genre films worth mocking.

None of these were the big losers. That goes to a historical drama, "Blonde" about Marylin Monroe, and a contemporary comedy, "Good Mourning." The latter's nominations can easily be explained by "there is nothing unfunnier than a bad comedy." I'm turning to John Campea's The 2023 Razzie Nominations Are Here to explain why "Blonde" earned eight nominations.

The Golden Raspberry Awards (also known as the Razzies and Razzie Awards) is a parody award show honoring the worst of cinematic under-achievements.
First, "Blonde" is an unpleasant film, even if it's technically proficient and Ana de Armas, who is nominated for a BAFTA Award and was nominated for an Oscar this morning, acted brilliantly. At least the Razzies indirectly addressed its misogynistic tendencies by nominating Andrew Dominik & His Issues with Women for Worst Screen Couple. Second, people shouldn't take the Razzies seriously; they are intentionally a joke.

While my prediction for "Morbius" came true, another did not.
As for "2000 Mules," I fully expect it to be nominated for several Razzies and it will deserve every nomination.
Nope, completely ignored. Maybe that's for the best. Being completely ignored is what that bad documentary and its creator deserve.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Party City files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

While Bed Bath & Beyond is facing bankruptcy, Party City has actually filed. Erik of Retail Archaeology shared a ground-level view of the story in Party City: The Party Is Over!

In this episode we take a look at Party city and discuss their recent bankruptcy filing and the challenges they are facing.
Erik thought that, if Party City survived the pandemic, it would have gotten through the worst and be likely to survive. My experience is that this is not always the case. The first Retail Apocalypse story I covered, Borders Books, happened two years after the Great Recession officially ended, so I'm not surprised that Party City declared bankruptcy now.

Yahoo Finance showed an aerial view of the story in Party City files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stock bounces.

Yahoo Finance Live’s Brad Smith reports that Party City has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
They seem even less optimistic than Erik, which is saying something.

Speaking of Erik, here is his video from November 2018, asking Party City: A Decrease In Partying?

In this episode of Retail Archaeology we take a look at Party City and talk about the recent drop in the shares of their stock.
Party City has been in trouble for a while, which fits one of the patterns for chains that fail during the Retail 'Apocalypse. All of them had issues that brought them down when a crisis hit.

All three videos mentioned the helium shortage increasing the prices of balloons and decreasing their sales. That's something I haven't blogged about but should. In the meantime, stay tuned for this year's Razzie nominations. It's Morbin' time!

Sunday, January 22, 2023

'SNL' drags George Santos in its first show of 2023

George Santos continues to live up to my prediction that he'll be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news. Watch a NFL on Fox Cold Open as "Saturday Night Live" returns for the new year.

Fox Sports hosts (Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, James Austin Johnson, Devon Walker, Molly Kearney) interview Rep. George Santos (Bowen Yang).
As I wrote the last time I featured comedians mocking Santos, "It's hard for satire to be more ridiculous than reality these days, but this segment managed to do so" — but just barely.

SNL's dragging of Santos continued in Weekend Update: Biden's Classified Document Scandal, George Santos' Lies.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like Biden and Trump's classified document scandals.
Weekend Update returned to Santos later, but in the meantime, it gave the Biden documents story about as much time as it deserved — not much. Ron DeSantis's comments about Florida being a refuge of sanity during the pandemic by refusing to go along with vaccine and mask mandates also got as much respect as they deserve by referencing Florida's reputation for craziness.
Well, this is Florida, which is known for the crazy news it produces. As an expatriate Californian, I'm perversely glad that it ha[s] the insane reputation that it does; it makes California, especially southern California, look good.
The last story reminds me of a meme I haven't used since Maddow asks if the filibuster can be waived for the debt ceiling, why can't it be waived for voting rights?

I'm sure I'll be returning to the topic, especially if it results in another Satan Sandwich.

Follow over the jump for the rest of Weekend Update.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Happy Year of the Water Rabbit!

Happy Lunar New Year! So long, Year of the Water Tiger! Welcome to the Year of the Water Rabbit!* KREM 2 News in Spokane, Washington explained the holiday in Lunar New Year 2023: Year of the Rabbit | What to Know.

Happy Lunar New Year! People from east and southeast Asian cultures across the world are ringing in a new year of prosperity, hope, and calm.
That was not only a good overview of the holiday, but an in-depth examination of being Asian-American and a fun cooking video. Yum!

ABC7 News Bay Area uploaded a briefer and more focused segment asking Lunar New Year 2023: What's in store for Year of the Rabbit?

The Chinese Zodiac animal for this Lunar New Year is the rabbit. Here's what that means and some surprising facts about this Lunar New Year.
I knew that the Jewish calendar had leap months, but I didn't know that the east Asian lunar calendar had leap months as well. I should have figured it out, but it never occurred to me. As I've written many times before, it's a good day when I learn something new.

This holiday is all about culture and tradition, so I'm returning to my tradition of showing Disney's way of celebrating the holiday with WDW News Today's Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession at Disney California Adventure 2023.

I'm being a good environmentalist by recycling my reaction to 2020's Happy Year of the Metal Rat! "I don't know how authentically Chinese it is, but it is authentically Disney, which makes it authentically American." I didn't make a prediction about which Disney animated character would portray this year's animal because Disney has a number of choices, many of whom appear in the following image.

Frankly, I wouldn't have picked Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but I'm not surprised. "Lucky Rabbit" is very on-brand for this holiday.

Next year will be the Year of the Dragon, so Mushu will be the star. He's already in the parade.

Enough of this year's festivities. It's time to conclude this post with the generic greetings I've recycled many times over.

Mandarin: Gong Xi Fa Cai/Xin Nian Kuai Le

Cantonese: Kung Hei Fat Choi

Hokkien (Fujian/Taiwanese): Kiong Hee Huat Tsai/Sin Ni khòai lok

Simplified Chinese: 恭喜发财 新年快乐

Traditional Chinese: 恭喜發財 新年快樂

Stay tuned for the return of "Saturday Night Live" for both new years.

*It's not yet Lunar New Year here in Michigan, but it already
is in China, so I'm not really jumping the gun.

'Everything Everywhere All at Once' — part 2 of diversity in awards show winners for the week of MLK Day

For part 2 of diversity in awards show winners for MLK Day, I'm writing about the categories "Everything Everywhere All at Once" won at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards to continue my celebration of diversity in entertainment.

First, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" won Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards, beating both of the Golden Globes winners, "The Fabelmans" for Drama and "The Banshees of Inisherin" for Comedy. This sets up a three-way contest for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. While I'm not optimistic about its chances, I'm rooting for "Everything Everywhere All at Once." It seems to be the best received speculative fiction film among entertainment professionals, both critics and creatives with two Golden Globes and five Critics' Choice Awards. "Avatar: The Way of Water" is the main alternative with one Critics' Choice Award for Best Special Effects, two Golden Globes nominations and six Critics' Choice Awards nominations. It's very successful at the box office, in second in the U.S. behind only "Top Gun: Maverick" among films released in 2022 and number one so far during 2023. Blockbusters like that don't win Best Picture, even if they're audience favorites.

Before I move on, my prediction that "'Nope' won't do as well at next year's Academy Awards and WorldCon" as "Dune" still looks good. Despite its win at the Saturn Awards and nominations at the People's Choice Awards, it earned no nominations at either the Golden Globes or Critics' Choice Awards. Its IMDB page lists only three guild nominations for production design, costume design, and hair and makeup. I think it would be lucky to be nominated for one of those at the Oscars.

For the next award, watch as Michelle Yeoh wins Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes from NBC.

Michelle Yeoh accepts the award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture for Everything Everywhere All At Once.
I'm glad Yeoh got the opportunity to finish her acceptance speech, although I'm sure her telling the piano player "Shut up, please. I can can beat you up, O.K., and that's serious" helped. She wasn't kidding. As I wrote last month, "I was even more impressed to watch her do her own stunts in a fight scene. I don't care if its for show; I would not ever want to get in a fight with her, even if I'm twice her size!"

Next, watch as Ke Huy Quan Wins Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globes from NBC.

Ke Huy Quan accepts the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Everything Everywhere All At Once.
That was just as heartfelt and inspiring speech about overcoming career obstacles as Yeoh's and I'm glad I watched it. He got to make another acceptance speech at the Critics' Choice Awards, as he won Best Supporting Actor there, too.

I'm very optimistic about his chances at the Oscars, as he has also won the equivalent Saturn Award, and has nominations at the BAFTA and SAG Awards. Those are important precursor awards before the Academy Awards.

Follow over the jump for the categories won by people behind the camera at the Critics' Choice Awards for "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

Friday, January 20, 2023

Meyers, Colbert, and Kimmel take closer looks at George Santos

I opened yesterday's Jon Stewart on the problem with George Santos with "I have another example of George Santos living up to my prediction that he'll be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news, which might be much longer than he stays in the House." That continues to be true, as Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel all made Santos, if that's actually his legal name, the subject of segments last night. I begin with GOP in Chaos as George Santos Scandal Gets Crazier, Greene and Boebert Fight: A Closer Look from "Late Night with Seth Meyers."

Seth takes a closer look at the rolling GOP meltdown that began with the party’s humiliating speaker vote, including Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene fighting in a bathroom, serial liar George Santos facing calls to resign and Donald Trump getting ready to rejoin Facebook and Twitter.
Seth may have started out with Kevin "Pickled Tongue" McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert, but the meat of his routine was Santos. He's proving to be a big soft target for satire.

Speaking of which, Stephen Colbert interviewed "George Santos" (played by Saturn Award nominee Harvey Guillén) in George Santos Joins Stephen Colbert To Clear His Name(s).

After being exposed for telling numerous lies about his identity and resumé, Rep. George Santos joins Stephen Colbert live on The Late Show to truthfully answer the question everyone is asking: who is George Santos? Special thanks to our friend Harvey Guillén!
I'm being a good environmentalist by recycling my reaction from 'SNL' returns after winning an Emmy Award: "It's hard for satire to be more ridiculous than reality these days, but this segment managed to do so."

Jimmy Kimmel also interviewed "George Santos" (this time played by Nelson Franklin) during the final minutes of George Santos FINALLY Answers for His Lies, Trump Points Finger at Biden & MyPillow Mike is Broke!

Joe Biden was in California surveying the damage from the recent floods, Trump lashed out on Truth Social about being treated unfairly in regards to his classified documents, his new goal is to make it seem like the golf mausoleum he lives in is some kind of Fort Knox, Fox News is trying hard to sell that Biden’s docs are worse by connecting it all to Hunter, Donny is looking to get back on Facebook, MyPillow Man Mike Lindell is almost out of stuffing and is crying poor, Jimmy extends an invite to our show so long as he does it from the inside of a Dave and Busters claw machine, and since exposed fraud/Congressman George Santos of New York won’t speak with the reporters in Congress, we thought we would go straight to the source and talk to him (Nelson Franklin) personally.
If the real George Santos, as much as any of his public persona is real, won't answer questions, we may as well talk to a fake George Santos. We might actually get answers, some of which might accidentally turn out to be true!

I conclude by returning to Colbert for last night's cold open, which asked Did Lassie Get Revenge On George Santos?

Don’t mess with the dogs!

Ha ha! That would be fitting!

I have a a fun if busy weekend for blogging lined up, with part 2 of Angela Bassett wins Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards, part 1 of diversity in awards show winners for MLK Day about "Everything Everywhere All at Once," Lunar New Year, and the return of "Saturday Night Live" for both new years planned. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Jon Stewart on the problem with George Santos

I have another example of George Santos living up to my prediction that he'll be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news, which might be much longer than he stays in the House. Watch "The Problem with Jon Stewart" On George Santos’s Absurd Lies.

On this week’s podcast, Jon talks with staff writers Henrik Blix and Maria Randazzo about George Santos’s laundry list of ridiculous lies, why he got away with making this stuff up for so long, and why he’d be a treat to wrestle.
Jon Stewart is right about underestimating the danger of ridiculous people. I underestimated The Former Guy from the time he announced until about the middle of 2016, when I finally became alarmed. I hope Santos, as silly as he is, doesn't follow that pattern.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

SciShow examines ammonia, a molecule that has fed billions through fertilizer

A fact I repeat to my environmental science students is that synthetic fertilizers are responsible for growing enough crops to feed at least one billion people and are the number one reason for increased crop production. It turns out I may have been understating their importance as Hank Green of SciShow explains in This Molecule Has Saved Billions of Lives, How Do We Make It Without Killing Ourselves?.

Ammonia is extremely useful to us as a crucial ingredient in fertilizers. But producing it also has a significant carbon footprint, which is why scientists have been on the hunt for a way to make ammonia production greener.
As the subject line said, fertilizers have helped feed billions. The BBC went farther, quoting Svein Tore Holsether, head of fertilizer company Yara, reporting that "He pointed out that half of the world's food production is dependent on fertiliser." That was in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, about which Holsether told the BBC "Putin has weaponised energy and they're weaponising food as well." Yikes! That's a topic that deserves its own post.

Back to the SciShow video, which serves as an example of several of Commoner's Laws. First, there is no free lunch. Producing the ammonia for fertilizers comes with a cost, in this case, the effects on the climate. That ties into another law, everything must go somewhere, such as methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.* Finally, everything is connected to everything else, including the human population passing 8 billion being connected to ammonia through agriculture. Sorry, no nature knows best in this video. Even so, I still plan on showing this to my students. Welcome to blogging as professional development.

*SciShow didn't even mention the effects of excess fertilizer washing into the environment and causing eutrophication. That's a word I've never used on this blog before, which means I need to write a post about that, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Meyers, Colbert, and Kimmel take closer looks at Biden documents, gas stoves, Trump investigations, and George Santos

While yesterday was MLK Day, it was not a night off for the late-night talk show hosts. Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel all had shows last night and all of them mentioned Joe Biden's classified documents. Sigh. Fortunately, Seth Meyers already provided some context in last week's How Biden and Trump Classified Docs Cases Differ; Fox's Gas Stove Freakout: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Attorney General Merrick Garland appointing a special counsel to look into the classified documents that were found at Biden's home and office from his time as vice president.
Seth explained the controversy over gas stoves I mentioned in Meyers and Colbert take closer looks at the Republican House majority much better than Colbert did. While a case exists for no longer supporting gas cooking, a federal ban on gas stoves won't happen any time soon.

Seth returned to the documents as well as examining Kevin "Pickled Tongue" McCarthy's overconfidence in the results of the 2022 election in Trump Freaks Out over Criminal Probes, Calls Special Counsel "a Terrorist": A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at Donald Trump freaking out over his many criminal probes and Republicans salivating over the discovery of a small number of classified documents in Joe Biden's home and private office.
I would think attacking the special prosecutor is a counterproductive action, but as I wrote in Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for the Trump Organization as it was fined $1.6 million, for Trump "every day is Blame Someone Else Day, just like every day is Festivus."

Follow over the jump for Colbert's and Kimmel's monologues from last night.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Angela Bassett wins Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards, part 1 of diversity in awards show winners for MLK Day

A happy and contemplative MLK Day, when I have examined diversity in visual media since 2015. I'm continuing that tradition today by looking at the diverse winners of the movie categories at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards. I begin with Angela Bassett Wins Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture | 2023 Golden Globe Awards on NBC.

Angela Bassett accepts the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Congratulations to Angela Bassett for her second Golden Globe, first Critics' Choice Movie Award (she has already won a Critics Choice Super Award for Best Actress in an Action Series in "9-1-1"), and the first acting award from either awards show for a performer in a Marvel movie! May she continue her winning streak at the SAG Awards and earn a nomination at the Academy Awards for a chance at an Oscar. I already have her penciled in as my choice for a Saturn Award.

Not only did Bassett win for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," so did Ruth E. Carter, who took home her third Critics' Choice Award for Best Costume Design. The first of those Critics' Choice Awards was for "Black Panther," for which she earned an Oscar. Congratulations and may she also have a winning streak that includes a second Oscar. Note that I didn't write "ends" as I have her penciled in as my vote for a Saturn Award, which should happen sometime this fall.

I am planning on posting about the rest of the diverse winners of the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards, ending with the diverse television winners. Stay tuned.

The Norfolk State University Spartan Legion at the Rose Parade for MLK Day

One of my regrets when I composed Marching bands from around the world in the 2023 Rose Parade for New Year's Day was that I didn't include the Norfolk State University Spartan Legion, who put on two great performances at Bandfest and the Rose Parade. I ran out of time just as I realized I should put the Buhos Marching Band first and move the Tournament of Roses Band to the end to return to the U.S.A. To make up for my omission, I'm featuring the Spartan Legion today for MLK Day. I begin with the clip I wanted to use on New Year's Day, Norfolk State University (NSU) Spartan Legion Marching Band - 2023 Pasadena Bandfest from Music213.

From Norfolk, Virginia The NSU Spartan Legion performing their musical selections at the 42nd Annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Bandfest on Friday, December 30, 2022.
That was an excellent performance. So was Norfolk State University (NSU) Spartan Legion Marching Band - 2023 Pasadena Rose Parade.

The NSU Spartan Legion performing their musical selections at the 134th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on Monday, January 2, 2023.
That wasn't even the best part of the Spartan Legion's performance. ZymbalistiK captured that in Norfolk State University | Spartan Legion Marching Band - Rose Parade (2023) from the KTLA BandCam feed.

The NSU Spartan Legion Marching Band from Norfolk, Virginia at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.

Video footage - courtesy of KTLA 5 news. All rights of this footage belong to KTLA 5.
ZymbalistiK remarked how unusual this was in his comment.
NSU is the first band I’ve seen stop and do a full routine/performance at the Rose Parade. I think that was a great idea to fully showcase the band. I wonder if this was planned or spur of the moment thing? Good job regardless Legion!
I agree, it was unusual. In a comment, Ebony Johnson responded "They were chosen to do the grandstand performance while the live performer was televised around the corner." I watched the live performance for the television audience and think the Spartan Legion put on the better show.

That's it for part one of today's celebration. Stay tuned for this year's version of diversity among Golden Globes winners for MLK Day, the real entertainment feature.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The science of gas stoves from Verge Science, PBS Digital's Reactions, and the Los Angeles Times

For today's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm going off on a tangent inspired by Meyers and Colbert take closer looks at the Republican House majority, where the subject line of Stephen Colbert's monologue asked "Will Gas Stoves Be Banned?" and the response in the video description was "Stephen is not interested in switching to an electric stove." That piqued my curiosity about this hot topic, pun intended, so I turned to Verge Science asking Is it time to say goodbye to the gas stove?

The debate over which stove to use is moving beyond our kitchens, and into our energy grid. More and more research is showing that natural gas is not the harmless energy source it was once thought to be. As some cities are taking action in the race to reduce emissions, the natural gas industry is fighting back. The last big battleground? Our stovetops.
In addition to examining methane emissions, Verge Science talks a lot about the other greenhouse effects of methane and of burning it for heat, which still produces carbon dioxide, just less than other fossil fuels. It also predicted the current controversy over gas stoves and ranges in April 1, 2021 almost two years ago. That's no joke!

Verge Science gave short shrift to gas stoves and ranges as sources of indoor air pollution and the health problems it causes, but PBS Digital's Reactions made that the main subject of Your Gas Stove is Polluting Your Home.

Most people absolutely love their gas stoves and prefer them to electric. But these gas ranges are polluting our homes.
Yikes! I have written once that I'm an asthmatic, but I never thought much about why I developed the condition until now. Since I grew up in a house that used gas for heating and cooking, I suspect that may have had something to do with it. It's always a good day when I learn something, even when it's as bad as this.

I mention indoor air pollution in passing in my environmental science classes, but these videos have given more more material. If nothing else, I can suggest gas vs. induction stoves as a topic for my students' presentations. Students might take me up on it, as it's a hot topic (running joke, I know).

I close with the Los Angeles Times asking Would you get rid of your gas stove and go electric?

More than 50 California cities have restricted or banned natural gas hookups in homes and businesses to combat climate change. Some researchers have also linked gas stoves to a higher risk of asthma. L.A. Times reporter Evan Halper digs into how electric cooking alternatives such as induction stoves can benefit the environment and our health. But are cooks willing to give up cooking with fire?
Before watching these videos, I would have said no, except that my wife and I currently have an electric oven and stove top, so I wouldn't have to. However, we've been thinking of replacing it with a gas stove. Now, I'm thinking seriously about an induction stove top when we redo our kitchen. That might be a selling point in the future. It's also better for the environment, our health, and the health of whoever owns our house next, and there almost certainly will be someone else who owns this house after us.

Stay tuned for this year's version of diversity among Golden Globes winners for MLK Day, the real entertainment update.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for the Trump Organization as it was fined $1.6 million

I have another tale of woe after Bed Bath & Beyond facing bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Friday the 13th, but this time it's for an entity that deserves it more. Watch ABC News report Trump Organization fined $1.6M for tax fraud.

The Trump organization received a maximum $1.6 million in fines by a federal judge Friday after being convicted of tax fraud.
The Trump Organization claiming that this case is a politically motivated witch hunt reminds me of what I wrote in Projection is the Right's favorite defense mechanism more than a decade ago.
Projection may be part of a complex of behaviors called DARVO--"Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." Here's what Jennifer Freyd at the University of Oregon [link updated], who coined the term, has to say about it.
DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim into an alleged offender. This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of "falsely accused" and attacks the accuser's credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.
As I wrote, projection isn't even the half of it. Tara Palmatier at Shrink4Men describes it as "a combination of projection, denial, lying, blame shifting and gaslighting." Sound familiar?
Yes, it does, and it's become even more familiar during the past decade, especially since 2015.

ABC News updated the story this morning in Trump organization sentenced to maximum fine after tax fraud conviction.

The Trump organization has been ordered to pay $1.6 million for violating tax laws and its former CFO Allen Weisselberg is now serving five months in jail.
The Trump Organization and its lawyers tried to engage in more blame-shifting by attempting to pin the crime on its former CFO Allen Weisselberg, adding to the DARVO. While the judge and jury didn't buy that defense, it did show that the Trump Organization was unwittingly celebrating another day yesterday, National Blame Someone Else Day (The first Friday the 13th of the year) from 8SA - Books, Biographies and Literature Summary.

National Blame Someone Else Day pawns our mistakes on to other reasons. Blame someone or something for your errors on the 1st Friday the 13th of the year.
I think The Former Guy and his organization fall into the camp of not taking any responsibility for their mistakes and other wrong-doing to the point of really believing they did nothing wrong (they did) and blaming it all on others.  For them, every day is Blame Someone Else Day, just like every day is Festivus.

National Day Calendar also has a page on this day, but no video yet. I'm going to be a good environmentalist and conserve that resource for next year. In the meantime, stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment feature followed by this year's version of diversity among Golden Globes winners for MLK Day.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Bed Bath & Beyond facing bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Friday the 13th

It's Friday the 13th! This year, instead of exploring the psychology and history of the day or spooky theme park attractions, I'm examining a real-life tale of woe, Bed Bath & Beyond’s Potential Bankruptcy, Explained, uploaded by the Wall Street Journal today.

Bed Bath & Beyond recently warned it may be filing for bankruptcy in just a few weeks. WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner explains the roller coaster of events over the past six months that led to this low point for the company.
The Wall Street Journal examined the longer-term history of the chain in July, when it asked Bed Bath & Beyond Is in Crisis Mode. What Went Wrong?

After years of declining sales, Bed Bath & Beyond is facing an existential crisis. WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner explains why the company has fallen on hard times and looks forward to what’s next for the veteran retailer.
None of this comes as a surprise to me, as I posted CNBC warns that Bed Bath & Beyond is 'facing extinction,' a tale of the Retail Apocalypse nearly four years ago. I was fairly sanguine then, writing "the chain is facing a crisis, but it's not in imminent danger of going out of business," but became more concerned in 2020, when I wrote "I'm not as calm about the fate of the chain now, if only because 100,000 dead and 40 million unemployed in the U.S. has made the economic environment much more precarious for retailers other than daily essentials such as food and medicine, which I shopped for yesterday and picked up without ever entering the store." I'm only surprised it took me this long to return to the topic.

Follow over the jump for more on Bed Bath & Beyond from CNBC and Yahoo Finance.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Meyers and Colbert take closer looks at the Republican House majority

Now that Kevin "Pickled Tongue" McCarthy won the Speaker's gavel after fifteen ballots, it's time to examine how he and his slim majority plan to govern. Seth Meyers examined how that's going so far in Unhinged House GOP Wants to Impeach Biden, Claims Left Is Canceling Cowboys: A Closer Look.

Seth takes a closer look at the slim new Republican majority in the House trying to move on after last week's unprecedented meltdown with incredibly weak Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has openly admitted he is indebted to Trump for his position.
Despite the lack of "high crimes and misdemeanors," I'm afraid that the far right of the GOP will find some grounds for impeachment, no matter how shaky. However, that would make Kamala Harris the President. I think they would like her even less. Maybe their plan is that the House would refuse to confirm the Vice President she would nominate, clearing the way for McCarthy to assume the Presidency when Harris is impeached and convicted. Fortunately, that won't happen with a Democratic majority in the Senate, so they're just putting on a show.

As for now-Representative Ryan Zinke, I haven't mentioned him on this blog since 2018 as an example of the irony of the slogan "drain the swamp." He's a fine one to talk about corruption.

Stephen Colbert also examined the House Republican majority in House GOP Shows Off Diversity | The Many Aliases of George Santos | Will Gas Stoves Be Banned?

Members of the House GOP went on Fox News last night to boast about the diversity of the party, Rep. George Santos refuses to resign despite being outed as a serial liar, and Stephen is not interested in switching to an electric stove.
Yes, the House Republicans are more diverse now than any time since Reconstruction, but they are still much less diverse than the Democrats. As for George Santos, he'll be a great inspiration for comedy as long as he stays in the news, which might be much longer than he stays in the House. Will he last longer than a head of lettuce? Ask Liz Truss.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

2022 was the fifth-warmest year on record, EU's Copernicus reports

I wrote "There is still too much bad climate news" in 2022 in climate and weather from NBC News, DW News, and ABC News and while the year is over, the bad news continues. ABC News reported 2022 was 5th-warmest year on record: Experts.

The last eight years were also the eight warmest recorded.
Since 2021 was the sixth warmest year on record, that means the planet has continued to warm despite last year's continuing La Niña. Even more alarming was that the past eight years have been the eight warmest years on record. Yikes!

ABC News continued with 2022 was 3rd-costliest year for storms in US history: NOAA.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad joins ABC News Live to discuss the agency’s new climate report, which concludes 2022 was the third-costliest year for the U.S., among other alarming findings.
In addition, it was the third warmest year on record for the U.S. The clips near the end serve as an update to PBS Terra wonders 'Historic Megaflood Reveals Major Risk... in the United States' Driest Region?' It's not as if we weren't warned.

Follow over the jump for reports from the rest of the planet.