Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

According to a recently updated information from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) Thriller has been surpassed as the number one selling album of all time. Which, as an 80’s kid, makes me a little sad. =(

 

The last time the RIAA compiled data on this subject was way back in the ancient time of 2006, when digital sales were hardly a thing. Well, now the RIAA has caught up with the rest of modern society, added in digital sales, and updated the Best Selling Albums of All Time List for the first time in twelve years! And, to be honest, most of the results are not surprising, except, of course - for the ones that are totally surprising!  I’m looking right at you #9!

 

Before I reveal this list, allow me a moment to reminisce. I was in grade school when Thriller was released. We, and I mean every last kid, teacher, mother and grandfather was madly in love with Billie Jean and Beat It and Wanna Be Startin Somethin and The Girl is Mine and, of course, Thriller (The Lady in My Life - meh, not so much). But, mainly Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller. Ahhhh - nostalgia. And youth and dancing in front of the mirror.

 

Oh, that’s right. I danced in front of the mirror to Billie Jean. For, like - years. #comeatmebro!

 

I guess new generations can express their childhood love for modern day pop tarts and boy bands - but their love is misplaced because Thriller is still the big boy on the block!

 

Only, not any longer.

 

But actually, it still kind of is because the new list CHEATS!!!!

 

You see, the new #1 selling “album” of all time is … a compilation of greatest hits. So, even though this compilation of greatest hits has now outsold Thriller by 5 million albums - Thriller is still the top selling, non compilation record of all time.

 

Make sense?

 

Anyway … here are the top 20 best selling albums of all time:

 

  1. The Eagles, Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (38 million).
  2. Michael Jackson, Thriller (33 million).
  3. The Eagles, Hotel California (26 million).
  4. Billy Joel, Greatest Hits Volume I & II (23 million).
  5. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV (23 million).
  6. Pink Floyd, The Wall (23 million).
  7. AC/DC, Back in Black (22 million).
  8. Garth Brooks, Double Live (21 million).
  9. Hootie & The Blowfish, Cracked Rear View (21 million).
  10. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (20 million).
  11. Shania Twain, Come On Over (20 million).
  12. The Beatles, The Beatles - "The White Album" (19 million).
  13. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (18 million).
  14. Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard (Soundtrack) (18 million).
  15. Boston, Boston (17 million).
  16. Elton John, Greatest Hits (17 million).
  17. Garth Brooks, No Fences (17 million).
  18. The Beatles, The Beatles 1967-1970 (17 million).
  19. Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill (16 million).
  20. Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever (Soundtrack) (16 million).

 

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Hurricane Florence arrives

Hurricane Florence begins its long assault on the Georgia, Carolina(s) coastline. My understanding of Florence is that it is an anomaly amongst storms, the main reason being - it’s both wide and slow. Florence is much wider than a typical hurricane and is only travelling at about 2-3 miles per hour. Which isn’t even as fast as a regular person can walk.

 

What this means is that the force of the storm will linger twice or three times as long as a typical hurricane. And, perhaps obviously - the longer your area is battered with 100 mile an hour winds, the more damage the storm will potentially inflict.

 

Now, it’s true that in the last several days the storm has dropped from a Category 4 to a Category 3 and now hits the shores as a Category 2. (Go here for a breakdown on the differences between categories of hurricanes) But just because Florence has been downgraded to a C2 doesn’t mean that everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief. The danger is far from over. A C2 hurricane can and will cause significant damage. Again, because the storm is slow it will affect your area much, much longer than a typical storm.

 

Plus, one hundred mile an hour winds aside, there will still be 30 to 40 inches of rain in a large part of the Carolinas and the coastline is expected to have massive flooding of - get this - anywhere from 6-13 feet of water.

 

If you can’t imagine what 100 mph wind feels like, think of this - Hurricane Floyd, which also hit the Carolinas in 1999 brought 60 hours of rain (in some areas), massive flooding, caused 74 deaths and approx. $6 billion in damage. And since $100 in 1999 is equal to $147 today (adjusted for inflation) - that would be approx. $9 billion in damage today.

 

Okay. But Florence is so wide and so damn slow - it’s possible that some areas can expect to be affected by the hurricane twice or three times as long as what happened in Floyd. Imagine that - 120-180 hours of rain! That’s six to seven and a half days of pouring rain!

 

But that’s not all! Meteorologists have tracked waves 20 feet high and up to 80 feet long heading toward the coastline. Earlier reports suggested the waves were 80 feet high but weathermen (and women)  around the country quickly corrected them. I mean, an 80 foot tall wave is 2004 Indonesia Tsunami high and that wiped out entire cities and swept a quarter of a million people into the ocean. Thankfully, Florence does not have 8o foot high waves.

 

But still, an 80 foot long wave has tremendous force and once it hits the shore will push inland for a very long time. That, coupled with the rain means - massive flooding. Probably, unlike the Carolinas (and Georgia) have ever experienced.

 

Florence is expected to be full force from late Thursday until early Sunday. Approx. 36 hours of hurricane gale hitting affected areas. And then - additional rain (for days). I certainly hope most folks heeded their Governor’s warnings to evacuate the area.

 

Of course, I say that and I am not trying to sound glib. There are plenty of reasons where one might not evacuate. Living in poverty with nowhere else to go comes to mind. I understand there are people who might not be able to evacuate and there are always folks who chose to stay for various reasons. I understand.

 

But man, if I had the means I would be so out of there.

 

So, what happens after the storm? Well, as usual the best way that you or I can help is to donate to the American Red Cross. From the Fed side of things there is the Disaster Relief Fund. Of course, President Trump has recently made news because - during the height of Hurricane Florence worry - the President transferred almost $10 million from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement).

 

Now, thankfully, the money President Trump transferred out of FEMA wasn’t part of the Disaster Relief Fund as some have reported. Of course, as reported by Vox.com, this still complicates things. From their Is Trump Using Hurricane Relief Money to fund ICE? Not exactly:

 

“The Trump administration points out that the $9.8 million transferred from FEMA didn’t come out of the Disaster Relief Fund that is specifically appropriated for major disasters. Instead, it came out of the agency’s “operations and support” fund. DHS (Dept. Homeland Security) characterizes that fund as used for administrative expenses: Examples listed by a DHS official included “employee travel expenses, training, basic purchase cards, office supplies, HQ overhead support.”

 

What complicates this slightly is that one of the things funded by FEMA “operations and support” is the agency’s Office of Response and Recovery, which organizes the agency’s emergency operations and rebuilding efforts. About $2.5 million of the transferred funds came out of the response and recovery budgets.”

 

Lovely! So the exact office that organizes the Disaster Relief Fund just had a budget cut of $2.5 million - all during the Florence build up! Think about it this way - what happens in your office when you suddenly lose a significant percentage of your work force and / or work support? You know what happens. Suddenly lots of people double up on jobs that they don’t have any experience in and things are more expensive to process and take twice as long to figure out! Which, is totally what we want to happen when people need the Disaster Relief Fund, right? We all want to make it as hard as possible for people to receive assistance! Right? (Please, note the sarcasm).

 

*sigh* It’s almost like we have a President who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about people.

 

Anyway, all that being said. I wish the best for the folks of the Carolinas and Georgia.

 

 

This is an updating story. We will publish more about disaster relief, where to find it and how best to help, ASAP.

 

Multiple sources around the country are reporting on the NY Times Anonymous Op-Ed published on Wed September 5th titled, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”  You should take a few minutes to read it over or watch the video in which CNN’s Kate Bolduan reads the entire piece. I'm not going to speculate who wrote it, but I do want to discuss it in general.

 

The Op-Ed has stunned many and,  apparently - enraged President Trump.

 

Um. Okay. I get why President Trump is angry. But why is everyone else stunned by this admission?

 

The Op-Ed basically says, “Hey, there are people within the White House that are actively trying to stop President Trump from fucking up the country. I should know. I’m one of them.” Conservatives are up in arms. Even Liberals are like, “This is not how the country works Mr. Anonymous - no one voted you into office so shut your piehole and obey!”

 

Huh?

 

What about this Op-Ed is controversial? It basically says that - politicians and officials are working against each other. Don’t we already know this? I mean, don’t we have two parties publicly working against each other on many issues, all the time? Hell, didn’t the House and the Senate run 6 extremely vocal years of obstructionism against President Obama? It wasn’t even a secret. They went on TV and shit, and were like, “We’ll just not ever pass a budget and threaten to shut down the government every year and just not do our jobs and never vote on things - ever - as long as Obama is in office.”

 

Is the fear now supposed to be that “we didn’t elect” the person who wrote the Op-Ed who claims to be working against the President from the inside? Okay. I guess I can understand why that seems a bit awkward. Except that our elected President(s) get undermined by billionaires and officials both elected and / or appointed like, all the time.

 

I mean, I guess it’s controversial because finally someone came out and admitted it. Fair enough. The idea of the Deep State Conspiracy is that there is a body of people, typically - influential folks with powerful positions, that are secretly manipulating government policy. Some people believe in the Deep State actually runs the government. Some people think the entire idea of a Deep State is ludacris.

 

I don’t actually understand why the Deep State idea is even controversial.

 

Don’t get me wrong - I don’t believe for one second that the Deep State is a secret alien run Illuminati conspiracy. That’s fucking nonsense. But, as to the idea that influential (rich) folks and Corporations get politicians to do their bidding! Well - duh.  Everyone knows this happens. That’s what lobbyist do. It’s not even a secret and it’s legal. And they are out in the open. All over Washington. They don’t need a secret conspiracy to coerce the government into being their bitch. It pretty much just happens out in the open. With colossals amounts of cash. The manipulation of elected officials is nothing new and has been happening for … well, probably since folks invented government.

 

And now we have someone saying, “Hey, we’re working against the President. But, like - from within and in secret.”

 

Okay. Well, lots of people work against the President. But I guess this time it’s controversial because Anonymous is supposed to be on the President’s side. Therefor the whispered “soft coup” keeps popping up in the press. Well, a coup is an attempt to seize power from the government which I think we can all agree that is usually a bad idea but … but …. but it happens all the bloody time!

 

Lobbyists and their Corporate masters get our elected officials to do and say all sorts of asinine things that only help Corporations and will never, ever, ever help the people of the country. Sure, if a politician is publicly outed as being 100% in the pocket of Evil Corporation A, you can try and vote them out of office but the insane amount of $$ thrown into elections makes it very difficult for the people to seize any sort of power back from career politicians. Especially, when those politicians are in the pocket of Corporations.

 

It certainly doesn’t help that extremely popular conservative news organizations and even some moderately popular fringe liberal websites - just make shit up and spread fake news everywhere. Without accurate information it sometimes makes it hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys.

 

But I digress.

 

Look, I can see why the word “coup” frightens people. But I hardly feel this is a legitimate coup attempt. Perhaps Anonymous is overstepping his or her boundaries (it reads to me as if it was written by a man).  Are people not allowed to over step their boundaries in order to do things that are just and moral?

 

I certainly think so. Perhaps you don’t.


Anyway. If you want to make the argument to me that “but, maybe this kind of “soft coup” isn’t how it should be in our Republic” then I would probably agree with you. But if you say, “this just isn’t how things operate in our Republic” then, um - what the F! are you even talking about?

 

It sounds as if the famous counter culture alternative weekly has finally gone the way of the Dodo. After 62 years in print and one final year online only, the Village Voice has ceased the publication of new stories. Village Voice owner, Peter Barbey released a statement basically saying he couldn’t keep the publication in business due to harsh economic realities.

 

Most of the staff is going to be (or perhaps already has been) laid off with only a skeleton crew remaining behind to work on a digital archive of past stories.

 

This story is nothing new. The Village Voice joins a long list of familiar names that have abandoned print in favor of online only content - Jet, Computerworld, Vibe (who now prints only quarterly, I believe), Electronic Gaming Monthly (which has come and gone in print for the last decade and is currently gone).  But that doesn’t mean they won’t be back.

 

About the only chance the Voice has is if it’s sold to a larger conglomerate that can eat up a bit of a loss to get it (print or online) back in shape.  To outsiders (as in, those living outside NY) the Voice probably always seemed like a gossip rag but New Yorkers loved it and viewed it more as news that affected New Yorkers and a local info source for all sorts of counter culture shows, venues and art. I lived in NY for several years and let me tell you, that mag was revered in coffee shops around the five boroughs.

 

But the closing was to be expected, especially if you know anything about NYC (and / or currently live there). “Counter culture,” and I use that phrase in the common sense attachment of the word, has become more mainstream. Hot Topic flourishes in malls around the country sitting pretty next to a Footlocker or a Gap, while most brick and mortar alternative retail locations have faded (though I note that Trash and Vaudeville is still going strong on 7th street!). Even NY’s most famous alternative 24 hour restaurant, The Yaffa Cafe closed down a few years ago. (Which made me sad - I adored late nights at the Yaffa Cafe).  

 

And so it comes as no surprise to me that the mainstay alternative press in NYC has finally closed down as well. And so after more than 60 years in publication the Village Voice is no more. Perhaps, a miracle buyer will resurrect the beloved alternative press but … I won’t hold my breath.

 

All good things...       

 

Multiple sources are reporting that Louis CK made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar in New York City on Sunday night. You may or may not know that at the height of his career Louis CK was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. He sidestepped and denied the allegations for many years, finally telling the NY Times in 2017 interview:

 

“I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors. If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real … (CK then was asked, “So they’re not real?”) …  They’re rumors, that’s all that is.”

 

Well, CK denied the “rumors” for years. Until too many women came forward and then he admitted that “These stories are true.” He was immediately fired from multiple shows, lost deals and had his recent film, “I Love You, Daddy” pulled from distribution. A film he wrote, directed, produced and starred in. The film also starred Chloe Grace Moretz and John Malkovich. The unreleased film is about an aging filmmaker (Malkovich) with an appalling sexual misconduct past and his new relationship with seventeen year old Moretz who happens to be Louis CK’s daughter. It’s unreleased but folks have still seen it. I mean, hell - I’ve seen it. And to be honest - it was okay. It’s even been nominated for awards! True story - the Alliance of Women Film Journalists gave it nominations and an award - winner of the Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award and nominee for the Hall of Shame Award!

 

Way to go Louis! =)

 

Anyway. You can imagine the shit storm of negative social media and press Louis CK was going to get when he made a walk on surprise appearance. Keep in mind that Louis CK often did walk on performance in the past to the sold out room (115) of the Comedy Cellar. It’s just that this was the first one since the allegations broke almost one year ago.  

 

Apparently, audience reaction was fairly positive. His fellow comedians performing that evening said it was “classic Louis” and “quite good.” Cellar owner, Noam Dworman verified that he received one complaint email but also, several supportive emails. So, it sounds as if the walk on show - was fine.

 

But for the most part celebrity reactions have been uniformly disgusted. Comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted: “You know how many talented women and POC comics are knocking on doors trying to get some time in front of audiences or powerful people in this business? And Louis just gets to glide back in on his own terms? Gosh, does it payoff to be in the boys club..the white boys club.”

 

Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi tweeted: “Not falling for this Louis CK "triumphant return" narrative after years of him humiliating women who worked for & with him.”

 

I would even go so far as to say the vast majority of coverage of Louis’s surprise set was negative. Very, very outraged and negative.

 

But Louis was not without his supporters. A few fellow (male) comedians voiced approval. Marlon Wayans said, “It’s nice to see Louis out of comedy jail.”  SNL actor and Emmy host Michael Che had a lot more to say.  

 

He mocked the twitter outrage with, "'OMG! Can you believe that guy went on with his life?! (Yes, I can.)”

 

But Che’s main point was that the outrage was more about fame obsession gone wrong. Che wrote:

 

"What’s interesting to me about these articles against Louis CK performing again, is how important fame is to people. A lot of what I read says that CK shouldn’t get to be a ‘famous’ comedian anymore. Because to them, he’s still winning. Isn’t that strange? Meaning he can be shamed, humiliated, lose millions of dollars, lose all of his projects, lose the respect of a lot of his fans and peers, and whatever else that comes with what he did. But since he can still do a comedy set for free at a 200 seat club a year later, it means he got off easy. THAT’s how coveted fame is. Just because it looks to you like someone is 'getting off easy' cause they still have the perks you would kill to have, doesn’t make it so."

Okay. Maybe. Those are some fair points that I hadn’t considered.

I would push back though, that Che doesn’t seem to mention the shame, humiliation, loss of $$$ and loss of projects that all of the women suffered due to CK’s actions, the subsequent cover up and the strong arm harassment tactics to get the women to just shut up. A lot of them left comedy because of it. How are we to value their loss of $$$ and loss of careers. How do we offer them their “comeback?” Is that even a thing? Are you allowed a comeback for something you dropped ten years ago due to harassment against you? I mean, you might not even be good at it any longer - because you haven’t done it in ten years! So, what should we allow your “come back” to be? A check? How much should it be worth? Should it be based on the overall value of what you lost? How do we calculate that? Is your only “payment” from this ordeal that Louis CK no longer gets to work in comedy? Is that fair for all parties involved?

*shrugs*

I mean, you can be cynical and say that had the women not been subjected to sexual misconduct and harassment - maybe they still wouldn’t have had “what it takes” to become a famous comedian. Okay. Well, what if some of them did have “what it takes.” Maybe one of them had the potential to become the next Tiffany Haddish (only the greatest female comic working today!).

Oh, man. That hurts my soul a bit. To think that a comedy powerhouse like Tiffany Haddish could have been lost to us because of sexual misconduct and harassment. That could have happened. And maybe it did.

Look, maybe Louis just “tried it out” to see what the reaction would be. And now that he sees the overwhelming negative praise, he won’t try it again. Or at least not for a long time.

Maybe he’s working out new material and planning a big come back and doesn’t care if social media is angry. We have no idea what Louis CK is thinking or if he has done anything (or nothing) to right some of his wrongs.

But something tells me - we’re about to find out.

 

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Senator John McCain - 1936-2018

Legendary conservative maverick John Sidney McCain III died today from complications to brain cancer. His family announced just yesterday that McCain would no longer receive treatment for his cancer. Like many, I assumed that meant his passing was near but I was still shocked to hear of his death not even 24 hours later.

 

McCain has been in politics for 40 years first as a Navy liaison, then in the House and then a six time elected Senator. He was mainly an old school “war hawk, small government” Republican but at times cast surprising votes as he did in the July 25th, 2017 American Health Care Act vote but for the most part he, like most other politicians towed the party line. Initially, he even supported Donald Trump, albeit tepidly although in the past several months McCain has been incredibly critically vocal against the sitting president. McCain has laid low at home since December battling cancer, but he has still been active on social media and has only harsh words for the sitting President, basically agreeing with Hillary Clinton that Trump is a Putin puppet.

 

McCain has even been planning his funeral for months and has made it explicitly clear that President Trump is not invited. In fact, Senator McCain asked that former Presidents Obama and Bush give the eulogy. It reminded me of a few times during his failed 2008 Presidential run where he defended Obama against hostile crowd members. How many modern politicians can you name that have the guts to stand up to their own voters and defend a rival? The only two I can think of are Senator John McCain and President Barack Obama.

 

Anyway. Much has been written about and by him. He has multiple memoirs and there are thousands of tributes to him all over the internet. I will leave it to you to seek them out. Love him or hate him, Senator McCain was a very important figure in the United States and he fought a lot of good fights.

 

I doubt we will see anyone like John McCain in the Senate, especially on the Republican side of the aisle - any time soon.

 

I leave you with a touching tribute from his daughter, Meghan McCain. Her tweet this morning:

 



 

I just finished Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a seven-part, true crime docu-series about the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and the following abuse scandal at the Catholic school she taught at. The series is raw and harrowing and shocking.  The amount of women and boys that one priest was able to abuse and cover up for decades is almost unbelievable.

 

Almost.

 

Because we’ve seen this kind of scandal before. And we’ll see it again. The Spotlight abuse cover up as reported in the Boston Globe in 2002 and dramatised into an Academy Award winning movie of the same name.

 

And now comes the Pennsylvania cover up. A new 1356 grand jury report documents that more than 300 priests abused more than 1000 children.

 

From the opening paragraph of the grand jury report:

 

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this. We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

 

Later, it reported:

 

“We were given the job of investigating child sex abuse in six dioceses .. We heard the testimony of dozens of witnesses concerning clergy sex abuse. We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents … Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”

 

Wow. Protect the institution above all.  

 

But, of course - that’s how it’s always been. Or more importantly, “protect all the men.” Keep in mind, this report is only from a single state and covers the last 70 years. Multiply that by 50 states and then don’t forget to add in the previous four, five or ten centuries.

 

As usual it took the Vatican a few days to respond. Don’t ask me why it took them two bloody days to come up with the words, “Shame and sorrow” but there it is. The rest of us, within seconds of reading the news collectivilly had plenty to say and was probably more along the lines of, “Wow. The sick fucks running the Catholic Church covered up for another bunch of child raping male priest fuck heads! Just like they always do!”

 

Seriously, that took me all of twenty seconds to come up with. But as usual the Catholic Church waited to see if this recent abuse scandal would blow over and so they bit their tongue and said nothing. (Which is what they are good at).

 

Here is a video at MSNBC where survivors share their survival stories. One, an elderly man talks about his abuse in 1948 and flat out says incredulously (and correctly), “Who would believe me. A priest abused me? In 1948?”

 

He was right then. And he would have been right up to until … maybe two days ago when this grand jury report came out. I hate to be a cynic and assume that thing will go back to priests raping children because, after all - the Church has a lot of money to spend on PR and lawyers.

 

But that’s probably what will happen. Until the people at the top of the Church go to jail for this - things will only temporarily change at the bottom of the totem pole.

 

I mean, the Pope could do something about it. The Pope could, basically fire the shit out of all top brass involved. But, to be honest, he would have to probably get rid of the vast majority of the Church top brass all over the world. These scandals are just all too common and widespread for most top brass priests to not have their hands dirty at one point or another.

 

Actually, to be fair, I don’t know if the Pope can “fire” priests. Excommunicate them? Maybe that’s it. Maybe the Pope should just excommunicate 100 percent of all the priests above the level of OT V!

 

No, wait. That’s Scientology.

 

Well, whatever, The Pope can fire the shit out of them too.

 

I hope some justice happens and a lot of priestly heads will roll (metaphorically speaking). Alas, I just expect the Church to throw their endless cash reserves at the problem and it will all go away.

 

And then the Catholic priests will again, come out, come out from wherever they are.

 

And finally, does anyone else understand how Catholic priest sexual abuse would drop to about 0.0 percent if all priests were women?

 

Just sayin.    

On Wednesday, Academy President John Bailey and C.E.O. Dawn Hudson announced three “key changes” - a shorter show with a three hour hard limit, an earlier date for the ceremony and a new “Popular Film” category.

Um. Okay. Well, key changes is usually code for, “We’ve noticed our ratings dropping and we’re panicking - quick, let’s make some key changes!

Let’s break down their panic!

Three Hour Limit

The Academy Awards is a long show. It usually runs three to four hours. Everyone knows this. It doesn’t stop people from watching. And it’s been that way for multiple decades. Sure, some folks  have mild grumbles about that fact but ultimately - the exact same people will have the exact same complaint no matter how many hours the show runs. Cutting the show from 3.5 hours to 3 hours is fairly meaningless. Those same people will complain if it’s two hours or ninty minutes.  

And the Academy ideas for how to cut the show is this - some “lesser” awards will happen during the commercial break and viewers will be updated in shortly edited clips during the broadcast.

Sheesh. Some of these folks are random crew members who will never be nominated and / or win another Oscar again. Just let them have their bloody five minutes on TV, for Pete’s sake!

“Change” conclusion: Unnecessary. And certainly not a “key” change.

Earlier Telecast Time

They want the show to broadcast 2-3 weeks earlier than its usual “last week in February” timeslot. I guess they think that the Oscars two weeks earlier will increase ratings. Or something. The next Oscar, the 90th Ceremony is moving to early March to avoid competing against the Winter Olympics. Which seems fair to move the telecast for that one year. But, in general - moving the ceremony two weeks earlier doesn’t seem as it if it will increase viewers. I just don’t know what they are thinking here.

Let’s test this. Ask a friend. Go to someone you know who doesn’t watch the Oscars at all.

Say to them, “Hi friend! Are you going to watch the Oscars this year?”  

They will respond, “No, of course not. I hate that show. I’ll never watch it.”

Catch them with, “But what if it was broadcast two weeks earlier than usual?”

Watch their cold eye roll of indifference burn into your soul!

“Change” conclusion: Ridiculous and unnecessary.  And totally not a “key change.

New Category: Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film

And the “We don’t think your film is good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award but because it made a lot of $$$, we’ll throw you a bone” Oscar, goes to …

This is the “key change” drawing the most negative press. Celebrity reactions have been mixed with (usually) the old folks saying, “I hate change” and the young folks saying, “I love change.”

Well, I’m all for change. As many have pointed out the Oscars have not added a new category since “Animated Feature” in 2002 so it’s certainly time for some change. I am happy to hear that a new category is in the works. For the last two decades I have oft said there is glaring missing category from the Oscars, the “Outstanding Achievement is Stunt Coordination.” Once I say that outloud aren’t you like, “Oh, yeah. They totally need that category.”

The fine folks over at Vox.com thought the same thing with their: Forget Best Popular Film. Here are 6 new categories the Oscars actually need. (Although, I disagree with their “Best Casting” idea).

Alas, no. It is not any of those fine ideas. The Oscars will now give an Award to the film that made a ton of money but wasn’t quite good enough to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Of course, we already have those exact awards coming from both the Golden Globes and on a more comedic level - the MTV Movie awards. The Oscars is supposed to be the Award show with gravitas. It shouldn’t be handing out awards to movies because they are popular.

On the other hand - the Oscars originally, had two “best movie” categories. That’s right! The very first Academy Awards gave out two “best film” winners in two separate categories: Wings won “Outstanding Picture” and Sunrise won “Unique and Artistic Picture.”

Of course that was Academy Awards 1. By Academy Awards 2 the “Unique and Artistic Picture” category was gone - never to return. Because, “fuck those unique and artistic pictures!” #amiright

 

I kid. But seriously, in 2009 the Academy tried to address the “popular films not being nominated” problem by increasing the number of nominated “Best Films” from five to ten. Probably because The Dark Knight, a movie that was critically acclaimed and widely popular didn’t receive a “Best Film” nomination much to the chagrin of fans.

BUT THEN - just two years later the Academy was like, “Um, it’s really hard to find ten films we want to nominate for Best Film - every single year!” and changed the ruling from “ten films will be nominated” to “a number no less than five and no more than ten films” will be nominated for Best Film.

So, change happens fast because folks don’t seem to think things through enough. And then change happens again to fix the changes that were hastily made. I suspect something along those lines is what’s in store for this “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film” idea.

I mean, if it’s an “outstanding achievement” - just nominate it for Best Film! Why wouldn’t you do that? The movie is an outstanding achievement!

Right?

It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me, folks.

Update September 7th: Due to overwhelming negative press and insider backlash the Academy has nixed the "Popular Film" category. Well, at least for now. Ratings were down 20% from the previous year so I'm sure they'll come up with an equally stupid ideas as Popular Film in a desperate bid to up ratings.

Transcript of the Academy’s full press release:

* * *

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson

The Academy later issued an addendum:

While the details for a popular film category are still being finalized, a single film is eligible for an Oscar in both categories — Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film and the Academy Award for Best Picture. The new category will be introduced this coming year, at the 91st Oscars. In creating this award, the Board of Governors supports broad-based consideration of excellence in all films.

 

%PM, %28 %807 %2018 %18:%Jul

Groomed by a mountain gorilla

Quite recently, and accidentally, I came across this six year old video about a photographers wild encounter with a family of mountain gorilla. It’s already been viewed almost 12 million times so it’s not like I am the first person to find it. That being said, it immediately charmed even my dark soul and made me wonder who the folks in the video are.

 

Which lead me to The Common Flat Project, the blog of John and Pam King. So who are these wildlife humanitarians? According to their site:

 

In recent years John and Pam King have been pursuing a lifelong passion to experience and record the earth’s wild places and wild things through their photography. They co-founded The Common Flat Project in 2011 to foster a message of conservation and raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity on our planet especially on Cape Cod.

 

The Common Flat, I have found out, is a tidal area off the elbow of Cape Cod and is part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. That appears to be where John and Pam King spend the majority of their time and life. Their online gallery of the area is lovely and has landscapes, flora and fauna from all four seasons. They’ve also brought their photographic eye to all corners of the world and have captured images, as far as I can tell, on just about every continent.

 

Which is how, sometime in 2011, they ended up in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwest Uganda. The National Park, from John and Pam’s blog - is remote and very difficult to get to and at the time of the blog post was home to some 350 mountain gorilla. Several years later, that number has remained about the same, which means it houses roughly, half the known mountain gorilla population. The rest of the several hundred known surviving mountain gorilla population is in the nearby Virunga Mountains, a volcano region on the border of Uganda.

 

Anyway, as the Kings point out in their blog, “... young gorillas are curious about humans and may approach, this is very rare. Adult gorilla to human interactions are virtually unheard of among the local rangers.”

 

Well, the Kings had a three day permit within the Park and imagine their utter shock when, on day three they find the one of the gorilla families had tracked them down just to - well, hang out with them for a while! You can read the Kings' full account of their experience here.

 

As far as I can tell the Common Flat Project is still going strong and John and Pam are still neck deep in nature photography and wildlife conservation and I’m thankful to both of them for sharing their photos with the world.


John and Pam King’s hardcover book, Wild Cape Cod: Free by Nature (2012) can be purchased here.

 

Italian researchers have discovered a Martian lake! Well - probably. You see, way back in 2003 the European Space Agency launched the Mars Express and it’s been orbiting the red planet ever since. It’s not the first Martian orbital mission, nor will it be the last. But Express certainly hit the jackpot recently when it scanned what appears to be a 12 mile radius underground lake in the southern polar region of Mars.

From the researcher’s abstract report:

“The presence of liquid water at the base of the Martian polar caps has long been suspected but not observed. We surveyed the Planum Australe region using the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) instrument, a low-frequency radar on the Mars Express spacecraft. Radar profiles collected between May 2012 and December 2015 contain evidence of liquid water trapped below the ice of the South Polar Layered Deposits. Anomalously bright subsurface reflections are evident within a well-defined, 20-kilometer-wide zone centered at 193°E, 81°S, which is surrounded by much less reflective areas. Quantitative analysis of the radar signals shows that this bright feature has high relative dielectric permittivity (>15), matching that of water-bearing materials. We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars.”

Water on Mars. Check.

Well, I guess I mean - it is very probable that there is water on Mars. Looks to me like my dream of being a Martian colonist is one step closer. Of course, massive terraforming would need to happen for Mars to ever be habitable but still, it is the stuff of science fiction legends. But I’ve prepared for it. I mean, the Martian temperature can get as cold as -195 F during the winter and as warm as 70 F in the summer near the equator (but at night the temperature can plummet to about - 100 F).

And I live in Minnesota so I’m pretty much use to that range of temperature extreme. You feel me?

But I digress. Water on Mars. Sure it’s a frozen lake about a mile under the surface. But still. Water on Mars. I don’t mean to armchair speculate but I do watch The Expanse so I’m pretty much a Martian expert and my expert opinion is that - water = life.

Obviously, no one expects there to be actual Martians on Mars. As much as I love the JLA, Martian Manhunter is pretty much not going to happen. But still - microbes? Snow algae? Did you know that most ice has little pockets of water between ice crystals that microbes can use to keep from getting fully frozen?

I’m telling you guys - water on Mars and water = life!

Alas, it will probably be microscopic life but still - I’ll take it!  

To the stars everyone! To the stars!

 

The full report can be found here.

 

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