December 5th, 2016

sadface

Giants Lose

I returned from Mexico last night just in time to watch the amazing WESTWORLD finale, and the Giants - Steelers game, which Parris had TIVO'd for me.

WESTWORLD won, but the G-Men lost. Can't say I was surprised, but I was disappointed. My fears were confirmed: the six game Giants win streak was more an artifact of weak opposition than it was an indication of the strength of Big Blue.

Against a strong team like Pittsburgh, New York's weaknesses were exposed. There's still no run game -- second worst in the league, at present -- and the offensive line is a turnstile. Eli gets no time to throw, they can't open holes for the RBs, and Flowers is still holding on every other play and getting beat on the others. Injuries have not helped. Justin Pugh was a huge loss. That being said, it would help if Eli threw the ball to someone besides Odell from time to time. Victor Cruz was not targeted once.

The defense still looks stout, but injuries there hurt as well. JPP going out was very worrisome. He's desperately needed.

It should also be said that Odell was not wrong in his postgame comments: the officiating was terrible, and very one-sided. The Steeler DBs got away with mugging ODB repeatedly, but that was far from all. The Pittsburgh O-line was holding flagrantly on several big plays from Big Ben, but was never called on it.

Honest officiating would not have made a difference, however. The Steelers would have won anyway. They were the better team yesterday.

These next four games are all tough ones. The Giants need to step it up, or they could very well lose all four.
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Some Hugo Picks

December has come, and the end of 2016 (thank god, what a bloody awful year) will be upon us in a few more weeks. Which means, inevitably, that people will soon be drawing up lists of the year's best books, stories, television shows, and movies... for the Hugo Awards, the Emmys, the Oscars, the Dragons, the Tiptrees, the Nebulas, the World Fantasy Awards... or just for the fun of it.

For my part, I already know what two of my Hugo nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form will be.

ARRIVAL, to start with. Terrific adaptation of a classic story by Ted Chiang. Brilliant performance from Amy Adams. (She is always great, I think, but this was her best role to date). A real science fiction story, not a western in space. Intelligent, thought-provoking, with some wonderfully alien aliens.

And WESTWORLD, season one, from HBO. Of course, as with GAME OF THRONES, one can nominate individual episodes of this one in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form... but for me it makes more sense to nominate the entire season in Long Form. (GAME OF THRONES season one was nominated in this fashion at Chicago, and won). It really is one very long, complex, wonderfully rich story, with great acting, writing, and directing, and the usual spectacular HBO production values. Like ARRIVAL, this is one that bears repeated re-viewing, and requires some thought. The Academy will likely nominate WESTWORLD for a shelf full of Emmys. I hope fandom recognizes its brilliance as well. This is a story about the nature of sentience and the cost of being human, a commentary on our society and (especially) on the ways we choose to entertain ourselves, full of twists and turns and gut punches and reveals and surprises, all masterfully delivered by Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy.

(GAME OF THRONES is also eligible for Hugo nomination this year, of course. The entire sixth season in Long Form, or individual episodes of same in Short Form. However, because of the air dates and eligibility periods, GOT will not be in the running for the Emmy Awards this year, so WESTWORLD will have a clear run at those... contending, of course, with BETTER CALL SAUL, OUTLANDER, and all of the other terrific dramas out there).

There were other good movies and television shows released in 2016, and I have no doubt that some of them will find places on my own personal Hugo ballot as well... but honestly, I cannot imagine that I will like any of them as well as I liked ARRIVAL and WESTWORLD.
froggy

Speaking of Awards...

As I was saying, 2016 was not a great year. It was not even a good year.

But that is not to say that some good things did not happen.

Worldcon is always one of the highlights of the year for me, and has been since I attended my very first in 1971. One of my favorite worldcons of all time was MidAmericon, the Kansas City worldcon in 1976 (you know how up to date they are in Kansas City, they've gone about as far as they can go). This year's worldcon, MidAmericon II, was alas, not even close to that legendary innovative gathering in '76... but we saw friends, ate barbeque, signed books, enjoyed panels and readings, and had fun in all the ways fans always do when they gather.

In 1976, I lost two Hugo Awards, and held the first Hugo Losers Party in my room (with the help of Gardner Dozois, my fellow loser). That was one of the highlights of the con, beyond a doubt.

As it happens, I reclaimed the Hugo Losers Party last year in Spokane, so I held one once again at Big Mac II. Since my old room in the Muehlebach was no longer available (that whole wing having been demolished in the interim), I rented the Midland Theatre instead and had the bash there. And once again, it was one of my favorite parts of the con.

In 1976, Hugo losers got nothing at the party but a lusty cheer, some cheap booze, and maybe a few cheez puffs. In 2016, however, at least a few of the lucky losers got Alfie Awards. (Which of course did not exist in 1976, since I just made them up last year). They're made of old hood ornaments (as some early Hugos were), polished and replated by Tyler Eugene Smith.

Turns out most of the 2016 Alfie presentation was recorded, and has now been uploaded to YouTube. So for all of you who were not able to attend the Hugo Losers Party, here 'tis.

(Do note that the early part of my talk, where I explain the awards and talk about Alfie Bester and the first Hugo, is missing).



Congrats once more to all the Alfie winners... and to losers everywhere.