Monday, July 31, 2006

Rep. Robert Wexler's TCR interview

"So caribou are more important than my SUV?"

That's just one of the many great moments from this now-infamous "Better Know a District" segment, interviewing Rep. Robert Wexler, from Florida's 19th district ("The Fightin' 19th!"). This episode of The Colbert Report originally aired on July 20, 2006. It was one of the two interviews mentioned during Colbert's July 25th episode, and was covered by both "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show".

You can watch the video here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

“The man’s got a sense of humor – unlike, evidently, journalists.”

The opening segment of the July 25, 2006 episode of The Colbert Report had a number of great moments (you can watch it here). One was Colbert’s coverage of Bush’s stem cell veto, and his discussion of how the President should use his unpopularity, strategically, to his advantage. Indeed, stem cell research is a controversial topic, and the President’s veto has garnered a lot of news coverage (searching “bush stem cell veto” on Google News brings up almost 7,000 articles at the time of this writing). A great resource for looking at this issue, especially in relation to TCR, is FootnoteTV, a website devoted to looking at the real news and issues that are referenced in popular television shows, and written and maintained by Stephen Lee. He has several links to the actual documents and press releases related to the subject of stem cell research, and more specifically, Bush’s veto, in his post about the July 25th episode.

Another great point that was brought up in this episode was Colbert’s interview of Rep. Robert Wexler for the July 20, 2006 episode’s “Better Know a District” segment. On Tuesday (the day this episode of the Report aired), both The Today Show and Good Morning America devoted time to TCR and Colbert’s interviewing of politicians. Between the two shows, both Colbert’s interview with Wexler and a previous (yet news-making) interview he had done with Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (I’ll try to have both videos up soon) were referenced, and both shows asked why politicians would go on the show, knowing that they would most likely be made to look foolish. Colbert’s ensuing analysis was great, and very funny, and yet this is a valid question.

Apparently, politicians are much more “in” on the joke than we give them credit for. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in an interview with Rep. Rick Larsen, reported that “Larsen has no regrets [about his appearance on TCR]. Taping the segment, he said, "was a great time." And it will bring him some notoriety among his colleagues, whether they've been singed or not. "Around here, it's like a badge of honor to be on Colbert," he said.” In that interview, Larsen also said, “They interview you for an hour and take the four or five minutes that make you look the most ridiculous. That's their job, and my job was to look ridiculous” – which goes to show that he fully understood what he was getting himself into. Indeed, The Washington Times reported that for many of these politicians, “any publicity is good publicity.” In their article, “Politicians relish comic's needling”, they quoted several Representatives who had been profiled through the “Better Know a District” segments, many of whom had good things to say. “We tend to take ourselves too seriously in this business,” said one, while another commented, “You have to have the right attitude [about being interviewed by Colbert].” While some responded in the way one might have suspected (“It was a stupid waste of time, and he is two stooges short of a good routine,” said one, while another observed “I would think it would be OK to go on if you were live to tape, but don't subject yourself to a comic's edit unless you want to be made a fool of”), which is understandable given Colbert’s tendency to make the representatives look silly. However, it is clear that they are not as unintelligent as many accuse them of being – often, they are simply playing along with the joke. Wexler reportedly played along with Stephen’s joke purposely, after having agreed to be on the show at the urgings of his own staff members. Larsen commented, “I talked to other members about their experiences, and they told me the whole thing is, they are going to edit; they are going to take the answer to question B and put on question A. So what are you gonna do? You just play along. All you can do is just play along.”

(By the way – Westmoreland’s press secretary, Brian Robinson, responded to the Representative’s appearance on the Report, and specifically Westmoreland’s ability to name only three of the Ten Commandments he is pushing to have erected in the Congressional buildings, by saying that Rep. Westmoreland had actually been able to name seven of the Ten, but that the segment had been edited in such a way as to exclude the rest of his response.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Another TCR transition

Just to be a perfectionist, I wanted to show another transition that I saw on TCR’s July 25, 2006 episode – to be more accurate, is a new(-ly noticed?) lead-in to a more classic transition. This new transition-to-a-transition is the spinning “C” from “Colbert Report”, spinning toward the screen (and at the end of the transition, proceeding to spin from right-to-left across the screen). You can see a frame from the lead-in transition above, and from the closing one below.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New transitions -- UPDATE

A few days ago, I posted about the new transitions that TDS and TCR are using before and after commercial breaks. In the original post, however, I had written about only one new transition that The Colbert Report is using, as I had forgotten about a second -- which is similar, but nonetheless unique. Like the other one I had mentioned, I think it works well for the show. These (and the one above) are a few frames from this other new transition (taken from the July 24th episode).

“And . . . BOOM goes the dynamite!”

On the July 10, 2006 episode, The Daily Show covered a “curious incident” which has “raised eyebrows” and “stunned Russia” – Russian President Vladimir Putin, while walking through “the Kremlin”, stopping to talk to a five-year-old boy named Nikita, and then spontaneously kissing him on the tummy. As TDS pointed out, kissing children is an oft-seen publicity stunt for politicians, and is not usually seen as wrong. This incident caused a stir, however, as kissing Nikita on the stomach was seen as being too familiar, even within standards of publicity and culture (also aptly – and humorously – pointed out by TDS). Putin’s explanation did not do much to appease those questioning his actions – as quoted in an article by the Telegraph Group, “‘I tell you honestly, I just wanted to stroke him like a kitten,’ he said of the boy, who has reportedly refused to wash since the kiss. ‘He just seemed so nice. There was nothing else behind it.’” That statement was part of his response during a two-hour webcast, during which the President answered questions compiled from a list of top questions submitted by both Russian citizens and other individuals from around the world.

Something that TDS did not point out, however, was the larger context within which this incident took place. Some have put forth the opinion that the action was not quite as spontaneous as it appeared, but that it was a botched attempt by the President’s public relations company, Ketchum, to boost Putin’s public image, and create a more positive view of his interactions with children. Others have pointed out the parallels between Putin’s incident and others with a vicar named Alan Barrett, who kissed a ten-year-old girl on the cheek when presenting her with an award at William McGregor Primary School, and the boxer Eddie Daniel, who kissed the Queen during Britain’s Commonwealth Games. The whole situation has sparked a discussion about kissing and its appropriateness regarding strangers kissing each other – with regards to both political and cultural standards. Guardian Unlimited reported, “even innocent behaviour must now be punished if it is capable of misinterpretation by people conditioned by the media to suspect paedophilia in any gesture of friendship or affection by an adult towards a child. It doesn't seem at all fair. What makes it particularly difficult to avoid such pitfalls is the fact that kissing among adults has grown enormously in recent years: it is now customary for people who barely know each other to greet each other with at least one kiss and usually more.” [sic] The Washington Times, via London Daily Telegraph’s Tom Leonard, puts it well: “Arguably, the complexity of kissing strangers has never been greater. Although the touchy-feely politics of "inclusiveness" encourages public figures to be more intimate with the public, panic over pedophilia and the threat of sexual harassment accusations increase the risk of a kiss.”

You can watch the coverage from TDS here (EDIT: here is another link, which may be faster), and click the relevant links in this post to connect to seven different articles on the issue (here is an eighth). What do you think?

New video hosts found – hopefully

I have (I think) successfully uploaded videos to two new sites, Putfile and Metacafe. I will try to monitor the links on this site, but as they grow in number, I am going to have to rely on you to let me know if a link goes down for some reason. So if you have any problems with any of the video links, please let me know, and I'll look into it. For the time being, though, it looks as though we are set!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"The Truthiness Teller"

It may be four-and-a-half months old, but this article about Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report is really great -- well-researched, well-written, interesting, and informative. Way to go, Marc Peyser and Newsweek/MSNBC!

Here are a few excerpts from the article, which can be read in its entirety here:
Despite the popularity of "The Wørd," the best part of the show is usually Colbert's interview. He's a brilliant ad-libber—he spent his early years doing improv theater—with an encyclopedic mind. "He'd be comfortable not only in any discipline, but in any era," says Jon Stewart. "If you transplanted him to the 1600s and suddenly he was involved in the medieval arts, or even dentistry, he would be fine. I consider him, oddly enough, like the Internet."

Colbert, 41, hardly acts like a wanna-be power player. He keeps one of his "Daily Show" Emmys in his office, but he hasn't bothered to attach the plaque with his name on it. Much more precious are his "Lord of the Rings" pinball machine and his photograph of Viggo Mortensen, etched in chocolate. "It's all edible—it's fantastic," he says. "I'm a huge, huge geek. I played Dungeons and Dragons the first week it came out." Where Colbert the news anchor wears designer suits and monogrammed cuff links, Colbert the comic shows up at work in khakis and a golf shirt. He married a woman from his hometown in South Carolina and goes to Catholic church every Sunday—for kicks, he once started an interview speaking in Latin. He's also got three kids he dotes on. He won't let them watch his show. "I say things in a very flat manner that I don't believe, and I don't want them to perceive Daddy as insincere," he says. "I basically tell them I'm professionally ridiculous." At one point while he's preparing for that evening's interview, his assistant comes in and says that Conan O'Brien wants him on his show. OK, says Colbert, but only if it doesn't conflict with taking his son to swim practice. "There couldn't be a huger difference between the character Stephen and the real Stephen," says Richard Dahm, one of the "Report" head writers. "The real Stephen is an amazing guy. The character Stephen—well, I wouldn't want to be working for him."

The irony is that now that he's a famous comic, people are taking him seriously. Naturally, the "Colbert" folks are amused and bemused by the "truthiness" phenomenon. "You can never tell when a song or a word or whatever will become of a particular moment. You know, like, why the macarena?" says executive producer Ben Karlin. For those interested in the historical record, Colbert coined the T word moments before he went on the air for his first show; no one on staff had any idea what great things it would achieve.
Definitely take the time and go read the article!

Monday, July 24, 2006

New transitions

This may seem like a small point, but I thought it was interesting (especially being an aspiring filmmaker myself) to note that both TDS and TCR have, over the past few weeks, been showcasing new transitions between their commercial breaks, in addition to the ones they've been using for the past few years. Personally, I don't really like the new ones for The Daily Show, as I feel they are flatter and not as nice to look at. I also feel that they don't quite fit with the overall feeling, execution, and look of the program. The new one for The Colbert Report, however, I like a lot, as I feel it is not only colorful and pleasing to the eye, but also works well within the context of the show.

Here are a few examples of the ones The Daily Show has been using for the past few years (which are still being used, as well):

Here are a few shots of the new ones:

Now, in some of the frames, they look okay, but in others, I don't feel that they work as well as the old ones. The first two, in particular, I don't like (they are a part of a separate transition than the other frames). As you can hopefully piece together from the frame succession, the text of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart") zooms in from off screen, kind of assembling itself at the bottom of the page, and then zooms off screen.

The new transition for The Colbert Report, however, I feel works much better. Here are a few examples of transitions the show uses, with the last one being a frame from the new one:

You can click on each of the separate images to view a larger picture, if you want to take a closer look.

Well, that's the update, and it's just my opinion -- leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Video delays

I had been planning a series of posts about recent TDS and TCR episodes, which would have included clips from the episodes embedded in the blog posts discussing them, through the hosting services of Google Video. I had gone ahead and uploaded the first two clips I had wanted to use, but had waited to post here, because I wanted to have the video embedded at the time of posting.

Unfortunately, the clips that I had uploaded were denied by the Google Video team, as they felt that they violated their Program Policies. Their first e-mail is posted below:


Your video "The Daily Show - July 10, 2006 - Putin clip" was rejected
because it didn't comply with our Program Policies.

Videos submitted to our program are subject to an initial review to
ensure that they comply with our guidelines. When videos do not meet
our standards, we disapprove them. You can review our guidelines at:

Please make sure that you have all legal rights to use the content you
wish to submit to Google. For more information about intellectual
property rights and the program, please visit:

Thank you for your cooperation.


The Google Video Team

(Their second e-mail said the same thing, but referred to the second clip I had uploaded.)

I e-mailed them back, as I felt that other clips, similar to mine, were being hosted on their Video service, while mine were not being allowed. In particular, I cited this example, which is a segment from The Daily Show that was even longer than the one I had uploaded (and, I would assume, would be the same infringement of copyright as mine had been perceived to be), and yet had been hosted nonetheless.

We exchanged a few e-mails, and while they were pleasant in their responses, they were firm in their decision to not allow my clips to be hosted. While I disagree with their decision, as I strongly feel that my embedding these clips in this blog is covered by Fair Use law, I respect that they are trying to abide by copyright-holders' wishes (though I still don't understand why they are allowing this clip, and not mine), which is a philosophy with which I agree overall.

I still want to be able to show you the video clips that will be discussed, and so I am continuing to work on finding an alternative solution. It's a shame that Google Video won't host the clips, as their service integrates very nicely with the Blogger service, which hosts this site. Hopefully, I will have them up soon, and posting can continue uninterrupted. I'm sorry that things have been slow here in the meantime, however, and I wanted to explain now why there haven't been as many posts over the past week as I would have liked.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

TDS and TCR nominated for 3 and 4 Emmys, respectively

Both TDS and TCR were nominated for multiple Emmys – I’ll get right to it, and list the nominations below:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program (Episode #10140)
Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program

The Colbert Report
Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program (Episode #110)
Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music Or Comedy Program
Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program

Interestingly, the two shows received nominations in the same categories (meaning that they are up against each other for the win), with the exception of the “Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program” nomination, for which only Colbert was nominated.

The award ceremony will be broadcast live on August 27th, at 8 PM EST. For the official, complete listing of all of the nominations, visit this site, or download the list in .doc or .pdf format.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Formatting problems -- fixed!

I think I've successfully fixed all formatting errors that had come up. Thanks for your patience! As always, if other problems arise, please be sure to let me know, either by leaving a comment, or by e-mailing me.

I look forward to things on the blog returning to their normal rhythm!

Formatting problems

I use Mozilla Firefox as my default browser, and therefore, when I make my posts and check them to make sure they are displaying properly, I check them using my default browser.

So it came as quite a surprise when I accessed the blog using Internet Explorer, and saw that there were all sorts of random snatches of code interspersed with my entries. For those who have been reading the blog and have been seeing this, I apologize.

I wanted to let you know that I am working to try and fix this -- however, I'm not sure how long it will take, as I have been having a bit of trouble with the formatting for the site, as is. Please know that I am working to fix the errors on all of the previous posts, and hopefully, this problem will be resolved shortly.

Thanks for your patience, and if there continue to be problems, please let me know -- either by leaving a comment, or by e-mailing me.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

The other night, I watched the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, with a few friends. Now, never having played any of the Final Fantasy games (though they are all reportedly separate, as opposed to being direct sequels in a linear series), I had to have the story of the Final Fantasy VII game explained to me by my better-video-game-informed friends beforehand (the movie is actually a sequel to the story of the game, taking place two years after the game finishes). We also watched the “Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII” segment on the DVD before watching the film, in the hopes that that would further explain what had happened previous to the storyline of the film.

I must say, if my friends had not given me an overview of the story before we put in the DVD, I think I wouldn’t have had much of a clue about what was going on in the “Reminiscence” piece. This 20+ minute montage of what appeared to be footage from the game, edited together with random (to my eyes) scenes of people driving and talking on their cell phones about meeting somewhere, gave me more of a visual reference for what my friends had described, along with giving me some more details about what happened during the course of the game. However, a good part of it left me more confused, and wondering just how lost I was going to be feeling during the film.

Well, I was definitely confused about many parts of the film. I had this constant feeling that I was an outsider watching, someone who was not in the know on everything that was happening. The meager understanding I had of the story helped a great deal, however, and (to my surprise) some of the “Reminiscence” piece came in handy, too.

The thing is, overall, I enjoyed the film. Why? The main reason: the animation. It’s spectacular. I have never seen computer animation this good in a film before – certainly, there are other animated productions that are quite good, but this film earns the need for a clear distinction of its own. In addition, the fact that it succeeds in bringing the look of more manga/anime-style characters and scenes into three dimensions in a way that is so stunning, realistic, and life-like is yet another accomplishment that deserves its own recognition.

And so while you may not know much about the world of Final Fantasy VII, and some of the sequences are edited far too quickly (for my tastes, anyway – while the action is fantastic, the cuts between shots happened too quickly for me to be able to make out what was happening. Couldn’t they have just kept a few steady camera shots of the fights? Ah, well . . .), I would go as far as to say that you should watch this film for the quality of the animation alone. I enjoyed the story, the characters, etc., as well, but . . . well, I’m thinking of watching it again, so I can see the animation again.

It’s that amazing.

These are a few images of the film, taken from one of its trailers. And I am compelled to point out that while these may be great, there are even more spectacular images in the film. And beyond that, they look even better when in motion – the stills can’t fully do the film justice. You can watch a trailer for the film here, to get a taste.

Monday, July 10, 2006

New TDS and TCR episodes

It appears that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are back from their week-long vacations, and that a week of new episodes is about to begin! They both appear to be back until at least the end of the month.

Tonight’s guests:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Ilario Pantano
The Colbert Report: Amy Sedaris

Friday, July 07, 2006

What Jon Stewart "would like to see" in the media

I recently came across this excellent interview with Jon Stewart that was done by Charlie Rose, on his PBS show. In it, Rose asks Stewart what he thinks the perfect news media system would be like. Stewart highlighted the importance of the credibility of the anchor, built by experience and knowledge, which would lead to a system that could hold those being interviewed, such as public officials, accountable for the truth of what they say.
Here is a snippet of what they discussed:

Jon Stewart: There is no expertise from the anchor chair. And I don’t understand that. […] Find someone with the passion and the juevos to just lay it on the line – not in a partisan way, not in the pursuit of political power or political gain, but in the pursuit of credibility. In the pursuit of being a judge, an arbiter, and earning the trust of the audience over time as an oversight to the shenanigans of the political world. […] When they say the Republicans have created jobs that are nine thousand dollars less, in that moment, you need to be able to counter that. You need to be able to hold them accountable and be honest. And it’s not hard.

Charlie Rose: Or, you can have a bank of very smart people behind the scenes, until you create a credible guy, or a credible lady, who’s the anchor, and if somebody says something that’s simply not right, something happens so that you see, “That’s not the truth!” […] What you’re saying is that the people who do – who are anchoring the news ought to have --

JS: Expertise. Tenacity. And passion. […] Take it out of the political realm. That’s -- the problem with the media today is that they are too wrapped up in the strategy of the Beltway. They are now consumed by this idea that the whole world is running for reelection. They are worried about their connections within that world, when what they need to be worrying about is their connection to us, outside of that world. You know, there’s a funny name for that place they call “outside the Beltway” – it’s called America, and they need to think about that. Think about that – they’re – we’re the ones that they need to protect from this cynical game of right and left that is being perpetrated. […] Context doesn’t require rolling over. And that’s what has happened, that people are steamrolled because of what is timidity, or fear of losing access, or, uh, a fear of not advancing far enough – why would you want to get to be a White House correspondent anymore? Why would anyone want to approach that job, why would you want to take the best and the brightest out of the journalist corps and put them where basically they are just – I mean, do you read the transcripts from Scott McClellan’s press conferences with them?

CR: No, I don’t, but –

JS: It is an exercise in dystopian conversation.

CR: Right. They’ll ask a question, and he will deflect it, and they’ll ask the question again, and he will deflect it – is that the idea? Or more?

JS: It is -- no. It is absolutely a contrived dance, where both sides know that what is going on isn’t real. And when you read it, it freaks you out.

He also made a point of stating that the interviewer, who has the aforementioned expertise to hold his or her interview subjects accountable for what they say, does not have to do so in a manner that is too forceful for something that is difficult to verify with objective fact (i.e. saying, “Mr. President, you are not telling the truth” in response to a comment that things are going well in Iraq). I thought that this was an interesting and important point, as it seems that many feel that holding politicians accountable for what they say equals being rude, or constantly being on the attack. What Stewart was putting forth sounded like a much more reasonable alternative, and one that appears to be sorely lacking in the overall sphere of the mainstream media.

The interview with Stewart is the first half of the show (which is presented in its entirety on Google Video), which constitutes about half an hour. I would definitely recommend watching the whole half hour, especially if you are a fan of TDS in general, as he talks a lot about the show, as well as the book that the Daily Show team wrote, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.

You can watch it here. (It is currently being offered for free viewing through Google Video.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Note on abbreviations

Any abbreviations used on this blog will be defined here:

  • TCR: The Colbert Report
  • TDS: The Daily Show
  • the Report: The Colbert Report (this is often how Stephen will refer to it on the show, i.e. "Here on the Report . . ." The italics are for grammatical accuracy, not for emphasis.)
  • TDK: The Dark Knight, a 2008 Batman film directed by Christopher Nolan

A permanent link can be found on the sidebar of the homepage.

Note: This post has been substantially altered from when it was originally posted on July 6, 2006. In addition, while that original timestamp remains, it has been edited multiple times since that date.

While it is technically a blog entry, this page is being used as an ever-growing lexicon of abbreviations that are being used in other entries in the blog, and is therefore being managed differently than if it was a regular post.

For reference, here is the original text of the post:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Note on abbreviations

I just wanted to make this clear – “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” may be abbreviated to TDS, and “The Colbert Report” to TCR. These, and any other abbreviations used on this blog, will be defined here.

A permanent link has been added to the sidebar of the homepage.

posted by Iman at 10:58 PM

A note about the videos and pictures

You will be seeing video clips posted here on this blog. Most of them will be streaming video, courtesy of such hosting services as Google Video. I may provide both links to videos that I have uploaded, as well as to some I have not. In addition, there will photographs accompanying some of the blog posts.

As far as I am aware, my posting video clips and photographs, even if they are segments and screen caps of broadcasted shows (such as “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” or “The Colbert Report”), is legal under Fair Use law. However, if you are the owner of the copyright on a video or photo you see linked to on this blog, and would like to see the link removed, please e-mail me directly about the content, and I will do what I can to straighten out the situation.

I want to make it clear that I am not trying to illegally disseminate copyrighted material through this blog. Quite to the contrary, I am trying to use these clips to illustrate points that will be made on the site, and in a way made legal by Fair Use law. In doing so, I feel that the experience for the readers of this site will be enhanced, as the multimedia content will supplement the written content. However, I also want to ensure that I am not using any of this content in a way that is deemed unlawful by the owners of any of the content. As such, if you find that I am using your content in such a way, please contact me directly about it.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to making this blog the best experience it can be!