July 4th ruined by North Korea test-launching of an ICBM

Happy 4th of July, all of you Americans. So, do you still think President Donald Trump is nuts? Clearly, it looks to me like he is simply trying to keep up with the world’s other leaders in that department. 

Leaders like the guy currently in charge of North Korea, whose country just successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching American soil. Namely, Alaska.

I am looking at all this news and feeling powerless about this whole situation. This character Kim Jong-Un is out of control.

By the way, I spent late last night watching live news coverage from South Korean all-news TV, just for fun. While I understood next to nothing of what they said, I did understand the graphic on screen that read “ICBM”. Even with the impossible language barrier, I could tell just from watching the feed that South Koreans are freaking out over this latest threat. My question is: why isn’t the rest of the world?

Fox Sports in turmoil: Jamie Horowitz fired, writers out the door etc.

It is bad times at Fox Sports. Today, they fired their head man Jamie Horowitz over apparent sexual harassment allegations. It also looks like Horowitz has hired a lawyer and is preparing for a big fight over this. This latest news is just a week after Fox Sports canned 20 of their writers as they turned their website into one that is video-only content.

This latest whacking of writers is what I care about the most, because it come on the heels of the other well-publicized bloodbaths at ESPN and elsewhere. Quite honestly, I don’t like this move by Fox Sports at all, and I don’t like what’s going on at ESPN, but my opinions as a consumer never seem to matter. I notice Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage did a huge screed in which he analyzed whether this is the death of sportswriting as we know it. Travis basically lays the blame on the business model of getting ad clicks, saying it’s a broken business

So, where the heck are the fans expected to get the latest scoops, now, on what trades are happening? From thin air? I guess the teams and leagues have their own writers who can supply this information on their websites, but in my mind a lot of their content is less about sports news and more about “propaganda”. 

It seems to me there is still a big demand for “insider” information (as the recent NHL and NBA free agency coverage has proved) from these sports media outlets. Instead, we are getting “debate shows” with hosts arguing the merits of LeBron James every week. We’re seeing the likes of Skip Bayless being shoved down peoples’ throats — who, by the way, was a prime Fox hire by Horowitz, along with fellow bigmouths Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock

As far as I can tell, there is overwhelming fan sentiment against seeing any more of Bayless, or Stephen A. Smith or any of their ilk! Yet these sports media organizations somehow believe this is what will make them money! In fact, ESPN is getting totally roasted today for foisting Stephen A. on the fight fans during their boxing coverage the other night.

Something’s out of whack, all right, when fans are being prevented from getting the content they actually want! That is all.

Maria Menounos leaves E! News due to a brain tumor 

Once again, it’s mostly all about that maniac Trump in News from Nowhere

Welcome to News from Nowhere on what is the Canada 150th holiday weekend here at our base of operations, and so I am trying desperately to take a break from the news for a few short days. Unfortunately, the news is not taking a break from me.

President Donald Trump made the news this week, which surely must be a big surprise to everyone. You know, this ought to have been a great week for the President. His big “travel ban” was reinstated, sort of, by the Supreme Court. Moreover, all these “Russia election collusion” allegations against him are coming up very short on evidence. The credibility of the entire media took a colossal hit after word that three CNN staffers resigned over an online story about Russia ties that was retracted.

So, yeah, it turned out to be a big “I told you so” week for the Trump administration.

But then Trump goes right ahead on Twitter and blows it by getting into a feud with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and his future wife Mika Brzezinski on Twitter again! Trump doesn’t know when to quit!

See, this is the real problem with the Trump administration: no class. And also, a lack of humility. If Trump had simply displayed a little more class and, actually, far more humility, things wouldn’t be such a gong show down there in D.C. and Trump might actually be able to get on with most of his agenda. But he simply insists on enraging people, no matter what. This is what the real problem is here, not Russia or any of that. 

Now I understand he’s sent out another Tweet this morning about CNN. Something to do with wrestling, I guess. Seriously, Trump needs to leave Twitter immediately, this is beyond embarrassing now. 

In other media news from the week, Greta Van Susteren has left MSNBC after only a few months of her new show. The word on the street – or, more precisely, from the White House – is it’s because she didn’t want to join in the Trump-bashing on her new network.

Other news from TV: Canada held its 150th anniversary celebrations this weekend and the big one in Ottawa was covered by the CBC, with Peter Mansbridge hosting for the final time in his last on-air appearance before his big retirement. 

Speaking of milestones: Pam Anderson turned 50 on July 1!

Let’s see, other news:

Oh, there was another huge cyberattack this week, with Ukraine particularly hard-hit. This is getting to be a real nuisance.

In sports news from Canada, Edmonton Oilers’ enforcer from their Cup-winning days, Dave Semenko, has died.

It was a big weekend in Canadian Football as the Saskatchewan Roughriders held their home opener at their new stadium. Unfortunately, they also found a way to lose in OT to Winnipeg, 43-40.

While that game was happening, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found a way to win a crash-fest of a Coke Zero 400 race down in Daytona.

And in a big freaking boxing upset, Manny Pacquiao was decisioned by Jeff Horn to lose the WBO welterweight title! Unbelievable.

There was movement in the NBA this week with Paul George going from Indiana to the OKC Thunder. 

Meanwhile, Blake Griffin is staying with the Clippers.

And I notice TSN had their NHL free agent frenzy coverage, as usual.

Finally, the box office report: $75 million for Despicable Me 3 whose numbers came in below expectations, as the storyline of this summer — the lack of enthusiasm for the usual sequels and retreads — continues yet again. 

That is all I feel like posting today. Now, back to the holiday goofing off for yours truly.

Where were you 20 years ago?

All done: Christy Clark govt. is toppled and John Horgan is new Premier of BC

So, that’s it. The BC Liberal government has fallen and John Horgan and the NDP have taken over British Columbia.

I don’t think certain members of my family expected this when they moved to BC. When they left Saskatchewan they thought they were escaping the NDP.

High drama right now in BC legislature

I am currently tuning into the live coverage online of the unfolding events at the BC legislature where the BC Liberal government is about to face a confidence vote that will result in its likely defeat. After that Premier Christy Clark goes to the Lt.-Governor, and what will happen next is somewhat uncertain. The government could be handed over to the NDP, or an election could be called. We shall see.

My “Cairns on Cinema” column about Cars 3 is up!

Franchise fatigue hits Transformers: The Last Knight. Opens at $69 million.

The summer movie box office has not been kind to a lot of familiar franchises and sequels. The two big hits of this summer so far have been Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (now at $380 million domestic) and Wonder Woman ($318 million). Most of the others have ranged from mildly underperforming, to big flops in terms of gross. 

Just now, I read a report in Variety that said Transformers: The Last Knight opened in first place this weekend with a haul of $69 million. Normally, any studio ought to be pleased with a haul like that, but this is the worst domestic opening for this franchise in years, maybe even ever if this number holds up, after opening hauls around $100 million for previous efforts. 

The Variety article was blaming franchise fatigue, yet again, which doesn’t surprise me. Surely, people have got to be tired of this god-awful series by now. Others are blaming poor word of mouth due to bad Rotten Tomatoes scores, which would be the first time in human history that a bad Rotten Tomatoes score made any negative impact at all on ticket sales for any Transformers movie. 

Oh, well, it sounds like the international box office will save this particular effort and give the folks at Paramount enough reason to serve up Transformers 6. 

There’s no excuse whatsoever to not go to the Argos CFL games!

It was a sorry sight on TV this weekend at BMO Field. Today the Toronto Argonauts were playing their home opener of the Canadian Football League season against their fiercest rivals, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Except there was hardly anyone at this game! The attendance was a crummy 13,583!

Folks, the Saskatchewan Rush lacrosse team regularly does better than that. In fact, half the National Lacrosse League does better than that! That’s how far the Argos have fallen in Toronto, folks.

And once again, everyone is coming up with the excuses for why they didn’t draw better. Last year, there were weather-related excuses and the competition from Duran Duran concerts and Blue Jays games and Indycar races and what have you. 

The big excuse I am hearing about this weekend is that it was Pride Weekend in Toronto, so that was the reason why people didn’t show up. This has surely got to be the most creative excuse I’ve heard yet.

Bottom line is, if there were football fans in Toronto, they wouldn’t care about any of the multitude of other stuff that goes on in the city, they wouldn’t even care about the gridlock traffic. They would find a way to be at the effing games, dammit! And they would surely be at a game involving the Tiger-Cats! 13,583 for the home opener against your arch-rivals is sad, ladies and gentlemen. 

And I don’t want to hear about how people in Toronto would rather enjoy the good weather than go to the CFL game. You can enjoy the good weather while sitting there in the seats, drinking a beer! But clearly, not enough people took advantage of that opportunity today at BMO, because there was row after row of empty red seats, on television.

You know what’s even sadder? It looks like the Argos might be fielding a better team than the Saskatchewan Roughriders this year, in spite of the fact that it took the Argos all offseason to find a coach (Marc Trestman.) Yet even if they have a winning season, the Argos will probably be a drag on the attendance for this entire league, and create more bad publicity about how poorly the CFL is doing — all because people in Toronto don’t care and won’t show up. Last fall’s Grey Cup in Toronto was also a debacle, by the way, with tickets practically being given away, and it turned out to be one of the best games in history with Ottawa winning in OT!

Come on, Toronto people, get with it. Give the CFL and the Argos a chance — especially after this game today. There, that’s my soap-box rant for this week.

Hey, NHL, is Vegas hot enough for you yet? 117 degrees Fahrenheit today!

Wednesday in Las Vegas is the NHL Awards and the expansion draft for the new Vegas Golden Knights. I hope Gary Bettman and all these NHL players in town for the awards are enjoying sweltering in the Nevada desert as we hit the first day of summer.

I was reading this piece in the Daily Mail saying how the streets were deserted because people were hiding out from the 117 degree F heat! That other great hockey town Phoenix, Arizona hit an even worse 120 F today as well. 

This heat is so bad that planes cannot take off, and you’d fry your hands by simply opening the doors outside! As a Canadian, I simply cannot get my head around this sort of extreme temperature. (To think that I once thought Toronto was a hot place.) Anyway, I hope these new Golden Knights players enjoy getting fried to a crisp while walking the streets in Las Vegas.

Cars 3 races to $53.5 million on Father’s Day weekend!

Box office news: Cars 3 has halted Wonder Woman’s two-week reign atop the domestic box office. Lightning McQueen and the rest of the race cars finished with $53.5 million to the DC superheroine’s $40.8 million.

You’d think Disney would be pleased. Unfortunately, this is the worst opening ever for a Cars movie. The first Cars opened to a little over $60 million and then the sequel Cars 2 got $66 million! Maybe people are finally believing the many critics of this series, who have continually showed little enthusiasm for this Pixar line of animated movies compared to others from the studio. Then again, maybe people are simply bored with sequels in general. Or maybe people are bored with all things NASCAR. I dunno what the deal is. 

Anyway, it could’ve been better. That’s all for the moment.

France Election, Part II: parliamentary vote results today

Today, the second round of voting finishes in the French parliamentary election. Yes, that’s right, folks; their presidential vote wasn’t the end of it, they had to go through yet another vote for parliament, too.  

The expectation, based on how the first round turned out last week, is that Emmanuel Macron’s party En Marche! will will a massive majority in excess of 400 seats, an incredible showing for a new political party. 

It’s also looking to be a historically awful showing for the other mainline parties, in particular the once-powerful Socialists, who are being reduced to rubble. Here’s an article from Politico Europe on what to expect today if you’re not all that familiar to French politics. (Update: results are here.)

And as for those people who want to read whatever they want to read into Marine Le Pen’s parliamentary results, keep in mind that her party always does very badly in parliamentary elections. Yet another dismal result is just par for the course for her movement.

In other news from France, Porsche won Le Mans again, and I guess the surprise for me was finding out that Audi isn’t competing there anymore; instead, they’re focusing their effort on Formula E. 

Mistrial declared in Bill Cosby case

It’s on! Thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor 

August 26 has been set as the date for boxing’s next Superfight! It is indeed Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Conor McGregor, in Las Vegas.

But I dunno if boxing fans are all that impressed. I notice a lot of them on social media have flat-out blasted this fight. They used words such as “joke,” “farce“, “pointless”, a “circus”, and even “dogsh!t” to describe this contest. 

A lot of people think Mayweather will win easily. But no matter who wins, honestly, does it matter? 

Here’s the question I have: is there even a title on the line with this thing? Mayweather is a former champ who vacated all his belts when he retired, as far as I know. Meanwhile, McGregor is a UFC champ but not a pro boxing champ! In fact, I read this will be his first boxing match, ever. 

So, if there is no real title on the line, what’s the point? Then again, maybe some sanctioning body will invent one for these two.

Anyway, this fight is on, and the interest is insane, and it is supposed to be a $1 billion dollar fight. We shall see. 

Bad News Roundup dominated by Steve Scalise shooting, blaze in London 

Welcome to Bad News Roundup, on what is typically the worst news day of the week, Wednesday. Wow, was it ever a bad day, right from the moment you woke up. 

Let’s run down what has happened:

Bad news No. 1: House third-ranking Republican Congressman Steve Scalise among several people shot by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter today at a practice for tomorrow’s congressional baseball game. For his part, Sanders has denounced what has happened. Scalise is in critical condition.

Bad news No. 2: A massive inferno at a London apartment highrise has killed at least a dozen people.

Bad news No. 3: A shooting at UPS facility in San Francisco kills three people.

Bad news No. 4: Legendary Canadian Football League coach Don Matthews has died of cancer

Bad news No. 5: Here is one of those stories that is sure to end as “bad news” regardless of what the final outcome is. I am talking, of course, about the Bill Cosby verdict watch.

Bad news No. 6: Sears.

Bad news No. 7: Finally, a story that really counts as bad news for only one individual: Donald Trump. Mueller investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, Washington Post reports.” 

Now that I have thought of it, this probably counts as yet more bad news for the people watching at home. The gong show continues.

I think that is all the bad news that fits for tonight.

Still waiting for a verdict on Bill Cosby

Folks, I am still waiting like the rest of you for a verdict on this Bill Cosby sexual assault trial, with Cosby accused of drugging and then having sex with his victim years ago. If convicted, Cosby could spend what is left of his life behind bars.

Day two of deliberations are over; back again, tomorrow.

I haven’t really followed a lot of this trial; in fact, this trial has been very hard to follow, period, because coverage has been so restricted. Not only did the judge throw out all the television cameras, but live tweeting of the proceedings by reporters has been banned, too. They might be trying to prevent another O.J. Simpson media circus situation. If that was the goal, it worked, because it doesn’t sound like much of a circus atmosphere there in Pennsylvania at all for the Cosby trial. Instead, the media has been going hog wild today covering Jeff Sessions. Really, D.C. is where the Big Top is these days.

In any event, this trial has been really short, lasting just six days, and the defence didn’t even call up Cosby to testify in his own defence. Their whole defence lasted just six minutes!

Cosby’s main defence strategy has seemingly been to simply crossexamine witnesses and try and discredit the prosecution’s entire case. They’ve tried to paint this whole relationship between Cosby and the victim as somehow consensual. Good luck with that one. We’ll find out soon enough what happens with Cosby.

Box office: The Mummy gets lassoed by Wonder Woman

Not an enormous surprise, ladies and gentlemen: Wonder Woman dropped a bit from its opening weekend but still easily buried Tom Cruise and  The Mummy, which opened to $32 million while the DC superheroine took $57 million domestic. 

This is obviously a huge blow to Universal who was counting on launching a “dark universe” series of movies to counter all of Marvel and DC’s comic book heroes. What Universal wanted to do was resurrect all its old scary characters from out of its fault, bringing back the likes of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. That ain’t gonna be such a great plan if The Mummy can only scare up $32 million. 

Anyhow, that is the box office report for this week. Also, my Cairns on Cinema column on Wonder Woman is now up.

Sports in Sask.: Riders open New Mosaic, while Rush lose the Cup to Georgia

Now, a post about the sports scene in Saskatchewan. Last night was one of the more significant nights of pro sports in our province in a long time. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing their very first game at the new Mosaic Stadium, and it seems the stadium is getting a lot better reviews than the team is! At the same time, the Saskatchewan Rush were playing game two of the National Lacrosse League Champions Cup finals against the Georgia Swarm. 

For those outside SK, these teams may say “Saskatchewan” but they are in two different cities. As the sign on the highway says: it’s South for the ‘Riders (Regina) and North for the Rush (Saskatoon). 

The fact that both games were going at the same time surely impacted the Rush’s attendance: they didn’t even sell out their Cup finals game. No doubt, it was because so many fans opted for their usual drive to Regina to see the ‘Riders, who dominate sports media and sports interest in Saskatchewan so totally that it is insane. 

Check out the media coverage from this past week and it’s been something like 90 percent ‘Riders, with the Rush getting the table scraps from Saskatoon media over the past couple of days. It actually gets to be kind of boring after a while — it’s all Riders all the time, basically.

Most of the media coverage has been on the quarterback battle. But with the much-touted Vince Young pulling a hamstring, that put his comeback on hold and people in Regina lost an opportunity to see him in action at the new stadium. Instead, the main battle Saturday was between Brandon Bridge and Bryan Bennett for a roster spot in a game that ultimately ended in a 25-25 tie.

Now, a big bone of contention for everyone in Saskatchewan last night was the lack of television coverage of both these games. Here was a pre-season game which was the historic first-one-ever at the new Mosaic Stadium, and yet TSN was showing French Open tennis and UFC Fight Night from New Zealand! Which is fine, but they have five channels. Couldn’t at least one of them have shown this game? There wasn’t even a live stream, either, for anyone to watch anywhere.

If you think that’s bad, what went down with the coverage of the NLL Cup finals game in Saskatoon was absolute bush league. First of all, there was no TV coverage of it at all, unlike last year when TSN showed it. There was not even local SaskTel MaxTV coverage like there was in previous games!

Okay, fine, then: there was still live streaming of the game on Twitter. Except when we all tried to tune in the game from Saskatchewan, we got geoblocked! We got stuck with a message claiming that due to “licensing restrictions” Twitter couldn’t show us the game. This made absolutely no sense, though, because Twitter had shown their past NLL games here, no problems. 

I spent the whole first half tuning in an online radio feed of the Rush game while watching the UFC fights on television, and boy was I fuming. I was thinking maybe I should tune in the UFC more often and just say to hell with the NLL. 

Finally, after half time, the NLL opened up their pay NLLTV stream to Canada free of charge, and so that was how we were finally able to see the Rush blow the game in the final seconds and then lose the Cup in OT, 15-14.

Honestly, this was terrible. Two big games of major importance to sports fans in Saskatchewan, meanwhile TSN and Sportsnet have 11 channels between them and not a single one showing either of them anywhere. No wonder these channels are referred to as “Toronto Sports Network” by people here. The Saskatchewan audience was not served at all Saturday night; our sports teams are being completely ignored. Why, again, are we paying big money on cable TV subscriptions? Why?

That’s my rant, now excuse me as I tune in the coverage of the Grand Prix race. From Montreal.

Batman is dead! Adam West was 88.

Now watching hair-raising British election coverage

I notice the entire British media is already freaking out over the prospect that Prime Minister Theresa May’s early election may produce a total hung parliament now. 

James Comey testifies before the Senate

This week the American news media has been going all hog wild over fired FBI director James Comey and his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings regarding President Donald Trump

Personally, I have not been paying too much attention. I am tired of all things Trump and am more excited about British election coverage happening later this evening. I get the impression Comey is handing partisan ammunition to both sides with what he has been saying this week.

Moreover, I want to take some time over the next few days to figure out my summer vacation plans, since it is that time of year again. And I plan to spend the coming few days goofing off. Really, the last thing on my mind today is the news, but I will be Tweeting British election night as it happens.

Wonder Woman saves the summer box office to the tune of over $100 million!

Trump, ISIS, Kathy Griffin, and more News from Nowhere

Welcome to another depressing News from Nowhere with the world going mad again, and as usual President Donald Trump is in the thick of it. 

Honestly, I’m getting tired of him and his insane Tweeting, and I’m also tired of all of his opponents obsessing about Trump all the time and telling us how awful he is. “We know, we know.”

After this latest terrorism attack in London, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for, Pres. Trump took the opportunity to promote his travel ban, on Twitter. That got the masses fired up, as usual.

Meanwhile, people are still mad over the other big news of this week: Trump’s pullout of the USA from the Paris Accord on climate change. So yeah, it’s been that sort of week.

It has also been the week of Kathy Griffin. She held her big press conference the other day, supposedly begging forgiveness again for that revolting Trump bloodied-head stunt that got her fired from CNN. But instead, she took the opportunity to blame Trump for it, accusing Trump of trying to ruin her life

Um, wait a minute: Trump kind of had nothing to do with this. This stunt was entirely Kathy Griffin’s doing. Griffin has no one to blame but herself for her own self-immolation. When I say I’m tired of Trump’s opponents, it is this sort of thing I am talking about. (Update: Jerry Seinfeld has now weighed in on Griffin and doesn’t see what the big deal is.)

In other news, this has been a big week for comedians self-immolatingBill Maher has apologized for using the N-word on TV. 

On to the weather — it is starting to get a little too wild for my liking. There was a big tornado that touched down in central Alberta the other day near Three Hills. Yikes, that’s just one province over! We don’t need any of those here, too, we have enough problems. 

That’s about all the news I can stand. Coming up next, the box office report.

This time, it’s London hit by the terrorists

I have London on the brain already after watching Wonder Woman last night, in which it was featured prominently, but now the city is all over the news right now with reports of attacks at London Bridge and the Borough Market. Terrorism is suspected

Coverage here from BBC News

Drama in BC politics, and in TV news, dominates the News from Nowhere

Welcome to News from Nowhere where we have a lot of stuff to talk about, including in Canadian politics.

Fresh off the heels of the national Conservative leadership vote comes major developments in British Columbia politics. After an indecisive election night, followed by recounts and absentee ballot counts that confirmed a “Hung Legislature”, yesterday the Greens leader Andrew Weaver signed a deal to hand power to John Horgan and the NDP.

That means Horgan likely becomes Premier, but not before the legislature comes backs into session and votes on a confidence motion to formally kick Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals out. All in all, I don’t like what is going on, this looks like a “palace coup” and the new government’s policies look positively scary for the economy, with all this talk of scrapping the Kinder-Morgan pipeline. 

The same day this was happening, Nova Scotia was having an election, which took all evening to count before it was determined the Liberals got back in.

To other news now, this time from the USA where life continues to be unhinged. Kathy Griffin was fired as co-host of the CNN New Years show after posing with a bloody severed head of Donald Trump. How low can you go?

Meanwhile, it was a bad day for media people in general. It was announced that Scott Pelley is out as anchor of the CBS Evening News, demoted to a correspondent role at 60 Minutes, presumably because of lousy ratings. 

In weekend auto racing news Takuma Sato won the Indy 500 and Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600, and Sebastian Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix

And in perhaps the biggest sporting news of the week, Tiger Woods‘ life is in the sink again after he is charged with DUI after being found asleep at the wheel with his car damaged. For his part, Woods is saying this is NOT alcohol-related. Still, this is just sad to watch, seeing the great golfing career of Tiger Woods go down in flames like this.

That is all I feel like doing for now. 

Franchise fatigue to blame for latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” crummy numbers

The box office results are coming in for this Memorial Day weekend and it looks as if Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales came in lower than anticipated. Their weekend haul is $62.2 million domestic with a four-day haul of $75 million. 

While the international numbers are quite a bit better, Deadline Hollywood points to this as evidence of franchise fatigue. Also, the new Baywatch movie has completely gone under water coming in at $22 million over four days and $26 mil for five days. 

I notice they are blaming the bad Rotten Tomatoes scores for the lousy numbers for these two movies. Maybe Hollywood should blame “word of mouth” instead, because honestly, that’s what it is. No one particularly wanted these movies made. While I thought there would be an appetite for another Pirates movie, that is clearly not the case. And not even the fans of the TV series wanted this Baywatch piece of junk.

The thing is, every year, people say they want to see something original at the movies. The fans want originality! And yet every summer, Hollywood turns around and churns out the “same old crap”.

Opening later this coming week: Wonder Woman. Maybe this will do better, but I notice right now that some theatres don’t want male paying customers at screenings of this movie. 

That’s it for now; now back to my annual Memorial Day weekend auto racing TV binge-watching.

And the winner is… Andrew Scheer

Well, it was indeed a long day, just as I expected it would be. It went 13 ballots, by far the most in Canadian political history, and in the end it was a razor-thin result as Andrew Scheer finally caught and passed Maxime Bernier on the final ballot to win the Conservative leadership, with just under 51 percent of the vote. 

People are calling his win a huge surprise. But the surprise for me was how strongly the social conservatives in the race did. In particular, I was blown away that Brad Trost finished as high as he did, in fourth place. Together with Pierre Lemieux, those two got roughly 15 percent of the vote between them on the first ballot. When I saw those numbers I thought “holy cow, Scheer could catch Bernier,” because I knew Scheer would scoop up a lot of their votes in the later ballots as second and third choice votes.

The other thing that surely cost Bernier the leadership were the votes of all these angry dairy farmers who didn’t like Bernier’s plan to scrap “supply management.” In the end, that really was the defining issue of this race. All those debates between Bernier and his opponents, especially Steven Blaney, on that particular issue really did turn out to be important, after all.

So, that’s it for this leadership vote. Next up: the federal NDP.

Maxime Bernier favored as the Tories count the votes today for leader

Today, I plan to stay tuned to my iPad as the results come in for the Conservative leadership race. 

Of course, I’m not there at the Toronto Congress Centre today, but I plan to follow along on Twitter and tune in the live streams online. I wrote this piece previewing what to expect, but quite honestly I have been in the dark on a lot of things about this race, such as how many rounds of counting they are planning on doing. It looks like we could have as many as 12 ballots, which is an insane number, but it sounds like the vote count should actually go pretty quickly because it’s going to be all digitized and so on.

We are also largely in the dark about how many votes these candidates are expected to get, and I blame that on what seems like a lack of news media interest in this whole race. Trust me, if this were the United States, their media would’ve been going hog wild covering this vote and doing mounds of polling for it, so that we all had an idea what was actually happening. Unfortunately, we live in Canada, where no one cares, so the coverage has been basically consigned to cable. And most of what we are getting is pure speculation from these analysts as to what they think will happen. 

Personally, I’ve preferred CPAC’s coverage — they actually seem to have people on there who actually know what they’re talking about, unlike these other channels. Anyway, enough of that. 

A lot of people think it is going to come down to Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer, and I’m inclined to think that will be the case. A lot of people think Bernier just about has it wrapped up. We shall see.

As for possible surprises or upsets today — watch out for Pierre Lemieux. I’m seeing quite a few predictions out there that he could make it as high as third or fourth place on the first ballot. Which would be a surprise to a lot of people, but his campaign really has picked up momentum just in the last few weeks. When I asked Lemieux at the all-candidates in Lloydminster about how his campaign was doing, he sounded very confident, and he seemed to make a big impression on the people there with his social-conservative positions. So keep an eye on his vote totals.

Anyway, I may not be there at the convention today but I don’t feel deprived. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to cover this race, even while situated here in sunny Saskatchewan. Interesting thing about this race is that there are two candidates from Saskatchewan in the running, and that has given this particular leadership race more local relevance than usual. 

Here are links below to my stories from throughout the campaign.

That is it for now.

Some links to Tories leadership convention coverage

It’s official: the new Baywatch movie is garbage

I didn’t expect this new Baywatch movie (opening Thursday) to get good reviews, as most film critics are uptight snobs about this sort of fare and the TV series it is based on was absolute cheese. Yet, even by the usual low Baywatch standards the reviews are really awful. It’s running at 20 percent at Rotten Tomatoes! (Update: they’ve dropped to 18 percent as of Friday!)

Word on the street is this is an unfunny, gross-out type of movie that not even Dwayne Johnson can save. I guess no one ought to be surprised.

And this is not the only new movie getting pelted. The film critics are already blasting away at the new Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, due to open Friday, which is running currently at 31 percent

Oh, well, maybe this is a good week for moviegoers to stay home and save their money.

More bad news: Sir Roger Moore has died.

Several people killed at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K. tonight.

Good grief. There was an explosion at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in which 19 people were killed and 50 injured. It’s suspected to be terrorism. 

The world just keeps on being awful these days. Coverage here from the BBC.

Box office — Alien: Covenant beats out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The weekend box office totals are in for what turned out to be the tightest, closest race of the summer blockbuster season so far. According to the numbers, Alien: Covenant has beaten out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with a haul of $36 million, a difference of about $700,000.

But this could hardly be called a fabulous showing for the Alien franchise, and my guess is that my prediction that this,would be in the top 10 for the whole summer is already up in smoke. I’m thinking now that Dunkirk gets there instead. Anyway, the analysis and post-mortems for this flick are now on.

A big week of releases is ahead as Baywatch opens Wednesday followed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales on Friday.

TV news: new shows overshadowed by Tim Allen’s big cancellation

Last week was the annual “upfronts” previewing the new fall lineups for the major US television networks, and you can see the stories about what went down here, and here

I guess the biggest TV news of the past while is that ABC intends to bring back American Idol in 2018, which ruffles the feathers of the folks at FOX who thought they had sent this show off into the sunset already. 

Honestly, folks — why is this piece of junk coming back? Everyone is sick of American Idol; it produced a few stars during its first incarnations but descended immediately into total “who-cares-TV” after Simon Cowell left. Besides, there is a glut of other music and reality-show competitions on TV. This show ought to rest in peace.

Anyway, the big news is not the shows that are coming on the air, but the ones that are being cancelled. Of those, there are a few surprises. I notice ABC is in particular hot water for its decision to axe the still well-watched Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen. There are petitions going around protesting the cancellation, with accusations that this show is being booted off the air simply because Allen is a conservative. 

For his part, Allen says he is “stunned and blindsided“. People on the right are really taking this hard. Anyway, it looks as if 20th Century Fox is going to try and find a new home for it. 

Of the other cancelled shows, the one I found particularly notable was 2 Broke Girls, which had been on the air for years. I didn’t think it was in any sort of danger, but I suppose whenever a sitcom hits the six-year mark, it’s usually time to go. 

For those keeping track, here is the list of which network shows are dead or alive.

The news is that Roger Ailes has died

I was all set to go off on a riff about the appointment of a special prosecutor re: Trump/Russia investigation, but that has been “trumped” today by the news that embattled former Fox News boss Roger Ailes has died.

It seems the Drudge Report broke the news before Fox News did, which some people find sort of interesting. Anyway, it surely is a sad ending.

Latest Trump WH chaos: all these Kimberly Guilfoyle press secretary rumors

The Donald Trump White House is a gong show. The Comey firing and all these neverending Russia allegations are dragging down his entire administration and are surely leading to an early impeachment exit. What’s made it worse has been the hyper-partisanship of his staffers and advisers, and all these attacks on the press and their credibility. That, in turn, is simply adding fuel to all the “Trump Derangement Syndrome” you are seeing in the media nowadays. Basically, all the problems are self-inflicted. 

Now, the latest set of rumors circling the swamp in D.C. have to do with the hapless Sean Spicer and whether he will be turfed as press secretary, in the wake of all this disastrous media his boss has been getting lately. Stories have been floating that Kimberly Guilfoyle, of Fox News’s The Five fame, might replace him. The word was that Guilfoyle was up for the press secretary job, but now there are stories that it’s not happening anyway and that the Trump administration doesn’t want her and thinks she is using the White House for herself. 

What is interesting is that Guilfoyle’s background isn’t so much the media, but the legal profession! She was a prosecutor for years in the great state of California. (California: worst bar exam in the country etc. etc.) Honestly, though, I don’t know why she would even consider this job. It’s working for Trump, people. Most sane folks would run like hell. 

Anyway, this whole story is yet one more distraction for this administration, on top of all the rest of them. No doubt, though, they need a complete re-set with the media, because constantly being at war with them all the time is no way to go. 

WSOP Main Event November Nine is now, ahem, the July Nine.

So, you die-hard poker players/fans out there surely have heard the news by now about the big changes at the World Series of Poker.  

Poker Central has taken over rights to the World Series of Poker, which will continue to air on ESPN. As part of the changeover, the final table for the $10,000 Main Event, which for years had been nicknamed the “November Nine” because it was held every November at the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater in Las Vegas, has been moved up to July.

Common sense has prevailed, finally! Seriously, look at all these other poker tournaments out there, like these various PokerStars Championships, the Aussie Millions, and the WPT tour. These big tournaments typically hold several different events over a number of days, all building up to their final Main Event with their “final table.” 

But with the WSOP, what they’d do is have several weeks of events starting in late May, one after the other, all of which are supposed to build up to the $10,000 Main Event during the month of July. Except, once the Main Event is down to nine players, every year they call a halt to it! Everyone goes home, and the players don’t come back to play the final table for another three or four months! 

Non-poker fans probably look at this setup and think this is crazy, and you know what? They’re right. At least now, all the WSOP events will all be together, and the Main Event will play to a conclusion in July. Plus, these final nine players won’t be spending three or four months reading up on their opponents’ strategies and hand histories for the final table, like they did before.

Big breaking news: the California bar exam is absolutely awful

I have been reading with some morbid fascination about the California bar exam pass rates, as reported by Above the Law

According to their report, the most recent overall test scores are pathetic. The latest pass rate was a lousy 34.5 percent, and for first time takers it was 39 percent! 

Now, the whole process of going through with a bar exam is supposed to be brutal. I went through it myself in a jurisdiction where the vast majority of people passed the first time, including myself. But it was still a harrowing process for everyone involved, with everyone killing themselves studying for it. We had to write three exams over three days, if you can believe that. If that’s what goes on here in frozen Canada, where the bar exam is supposed to be semi-reasonable, then you cannot even imagine what people go through trying to pass California’s awful exam.

I almost wonder what these bar examiners are trying to prove! Couldn’t they come up with something that people are actually capable of passing the first time, without them having to waste their time and money retaking it over and over again? (Among other things, the bar-prep study courses alone cost something like $3,000.) Or maybe they simply want to keep the unwashed masses out of California and make them go to Montana or North Dakota instead.

What’s especially sad is that of all the jurisdictions where I personally would be the most interested in being admitted as a lawyer (if I ever decided to go back to it), California would rank right up there, simply because I’d want to live the “Entourage” lifestyle and enjoy the sunny weather and the beach.

Well, there’s that, plus there is the potential number of rich celebrities who might make up your clientele if you were to practice divorce law or something like that (ie. Laura Wasser). 

Then again, I also hear practicing law in California is just as lousy and cutthroat as in any other jurisdiction, anyway. In fact, I know of a couple of people from my own law school class who, no joke, actually went down there and got admitted to the bar in the state of California! How they managed to get through that state’s lousy bar exam, I don’t know, because to me it sure looks like climbing Mt. Everest is easier.

First big flop of the summer season is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Every year, it is usually around week two or so of the Summer Blockbuster Season that the first big bomb shows up at the domestic box office. This time, and right on schedule, it is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which only made — what, $14.7 million? And the budget was reported to be $175 million? 

This, my friends, is horrendous. It’s hard to think of any other upcoming release that could possibly be this big a flop for the rest of this summer.

Of course, the director was Guy Ritchie, who I still haven’t forgiven for what he did to The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which was another big fat flop under his watch. But by all accounts U.N.C.L.E. was still a better effort than this, running at only 27 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. 

As for this weekend’s domestic No. 1, it was once again Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, coming in at a cool $63 million.