Tuesday Clutter: MTG, J.D. Vance, Mask Mandate Struck Down, Boston Red Sox, Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Who, Tom Ellis, Van Halen, Elton John and Kiki Dee, and more
Thursday Clutter: Travel Mask Mandate, Bernie Sanders, Ginni Thomas, Netflix, iPhone, Boston Celtics, Deebo Samuel, Stone Sour, and more

Wednesday Clutter: Mask Ruling, Tucker Carlson, Netflix, Boston Red Sox, Thor: Love and Thunder, Black-ish, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and more

Hi folks,

Welcome back.  How are you?  I struck out at the bookstore yesterday, but that's okay.  It will still take BDH and Little Buddha a little while longer to finish their current book.  Plus, they can watch some Red Sox games (and tonight's "One Chicago" shows) until next week's new releases arrive.  The guys just looked at the calendar, and they'd like to wish a happy 4/20 to everyone who celebrates it.  That scene isn't really their cup of tea, but hey, cheers.  They also want you to know that the coffee is ready.  Grab yourself a nice medium DD, because it's time to clear out some Wednesday Clutter.

The Department of Justice is punting on whether or not to appeal a judge's ruling that struck down the federal travel mask mandate.  The DOJ said they will appeal the decision if the CDC says the rule is still required.   It sounds to us like they don't really want to do it, and they hope the CDC will say it's unnecessary.  We understand there are multiple factors at play here, but it's never a good look when it appears politics is influencing a public health policy.   It also doesn't help when President Biden then says Americans should decide for themselves whether or not to wear masks.  It's felt like Biden wanted to move on from this whole thing months ago.  Has he done a better job with it than his predecessor?  Of course.  Has he shown real leadership on the issue?  Eh. 

President Biden April 20 2022President Biden doesn't really want to talk about the coronavirus anymore.  (pic via abcnews.go.com)

As we read the first linked article, we also can't help being concerned that the country is setting itself up for another coronavirus wave this fall/winter.  People may be tired of masks, and they may not want to be bothered with getting a shot, or a booster, but here's the thing -- a virus doesn't care.  If you don't take the proper steps to keep it in check, you open the door for it to run wild yet again.  Cases are already on the rise again, although hospitalizations are down, for now.  There will be no excuse for another crisis on this front.  If it happens, it will be because of a failure in leadership and plain old selfishness.

Tucker Carlson decided a while ago that masculinity is dying in the United States, and now he's got the cure:  testicle tanning.  If we've reached the point where the MAGA crowd is now voluntarily damaging its ability to reproduce, that's a win for evolution.

Netflix announced yesterday that it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter, its first such loss since 2011.  The company's shares fell 25% on the news, and we're interested to see where Netflix goes from here.  Streaming is clearly the preferred media consumption method now, but the competition for viewers is getting more and more intense.  Can Netflix keep up with so many competitors?  Their current pricing is right on the edge of being too expensive for our tastes, but apparently the company is looking at cheaper tiers that would include ads, so that's something to consider.

Meanwhile, things seem to be going well for Lululemon, as the company says it expects to double its 2021 revenue in the next five years.

Cheers to Verizon, who just announced that they will raise their minimum wage for employees to $20 an hour.  The resurgence of labor's influence in the workplace is one of the more positive developments to come out of the pandemic.

The Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 last night, thanks to a 7th inning sacrifice fly from third-string catcher Connor Wong.  The reason Wong is on the team right now is because catchers Christian Vázquez and Kevin Plawecki have both tested positive for the coronavirus.  That's a cause of concern for this team, because we know some players still aren't vaccinated, although we don't know exactly how many.  We'll find out more when we see who isn't allowed to play in Toronto, but we hope the Red Sox aren't going to shoot themselves in the foot this season.  In any case, cheers to the Boston pitchers for keeping the Blue Jays hitters in check last night.  Next up, Nick Pivetta takes the mound for Boston tonight.

NBC's new Sunday Night Football broadcast team will be Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark, following Al Michaels' move to Amazon, and Michelle Tafoya's departure from the TV sports industry.  Works for us.  Tirico and Stark are proven commodities, and we expect this to be a seamless transition.  As we've said before, the announcers just don't mean that much to us.  Our interest is primarily driven by match-ups, and as long as the announcers aren't a distraction, we're good.

Apparently there was a lot of interest in the Thor: Love and Thunder trailer that we had here yesterday:  The clip had over 209 million views in the first 24 hours after its release.  To be clear, not all 209 million views happened here, and that's okay.  We don't have nearly enough coffee to take care of that many people.  That total makes Thor 4th in the MCU for first-day views.  You can probably guess the three movies ahead of it, but click on the linked article to see how many people checked out the #1 trailer when it first arrived.  That's an even crazier number.  The MCU folks sure know how to deliver the content their audience wants to see.

Series finales seem like one of the more difficult challenges in the TV creative process.  There's the question of when to end a show, and then there's the issue of creating the final story you want your audience to remember.  More often than not, it seems like most of these programs disappoint for one reason or another, but last night's Black-ish stuck the landing.  The franchise is still going strong via the Grown-ish show, so the Johnson family isn't done yet, but the powers-that-be did a nice job with the end of the first chapter.

The Goldbergs has been renewed for a 10th season.  That's not really surprising, since Wendi McLendon-Covey signed a new deal last month, but it sure seemed like it was time for the show to call it a day.  (See previous note about the timing of series finales.)  They lost George Segal, Jeff Garlin was removed after being accused of inappropriate behavior, and we hadn't watched it regularly in a while, but it seemed like it had just run its course.  Maybe the producers felt it deserved a chance to go out on its own terms.  Will you watch?

Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony said he's considering writing an autobiography at some point in the future.  He doesn't sound like he's interested in really getting into the dirt about the band.  That's in line with his reputation for being a nice guy, but we'd still love to read whatever thoughts he wants to share about his relationship with the Van Halen brothers.  After all of the other books we've read about both the group and Eddie Van Halen specifically, it's clear the late guitar icon's problems with Anthony go back decades.  Our impression is that Eddie resented him for not sharing a similar level of obsession with music.  If Anthony wants to add to that discussion, we'll be first in line to buy the book.

Okay kids, that's going to do it for now.  Def Leppard just dropped their latest single a couple of hours ago, so let's have a listen and close things out with, "Take What You Want" for today's, "Song of the Day."

Thanks for stopping by, everyone.  It was great to see you, as always.  BDH and Little Buddha say you're welcome to come back to watch tonight's "One Chicago" shows with them if you're free.  Otherwise, enjoy the rest of your day, be good, and we'll catch up with you again soon.  Until next time, that's today's Clearing out the Clutter, and we are outta here.


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