Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bias in News Alerts?

I subscribe to news alerts from both CNN and the New York Times. I find the differences in their content interesting at times. The New York Times alerts pretty consistently contain more information.

Some news came out today about an announcement of President Obama’s intention to give a speech. Here are the two alerts:

CNN:

President Barack Obama has sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requesting the opportunity to lay out his jobs plan before a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. ET on September 7.

“It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order,” the president wrote. “It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that.”

Factual and to the point.

Now New York Times:

President Obama to Address Congress on Jobs and Economy on Sept. 7

President Obama is requesting a joint session of Congress for next Wednesday — at 8 p.m., exactly the same time as the scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens — to give a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy.

In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said it is his “intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans.”

That Mr. Obama was going to make his speech next week was expected. But it is remarkable that he would choose to do so in such an elevated setting, and at the same time that Republican candidates for president will be laying out their own vision for how to get the country out of the economic doldrums.

Still factual, but a bit of openness for claims of bias.

Or is it that the omission in the CNN alert shows bias? Of course, there’s an omission in the NYT alert too.

These are just alerts, not full reports or articles, so I’m not sure too much of substance can be drawn from this, but I did find this disparity interesting.

The lesson: don’t get all your news from one source.

Star Wars… they did it again!

Well, the 15,000th version of Star Wars is coming out on Blu-ray soon.

I’ll give Lucas a lot of credit. The man is a genius at marketing. He must have a huge storehouse of stuff that he can release for each new version of the movies he puts out.

This time the thing that is getting me to consider buying the Blu-ray is this deleted scenes trailer:

I foolishly thought that the DVD releases from a few years back held all the deleted scenes that could be salvaged. I was wrong. That trailer shows scenes I’d never seen before.

It also shows a scene that I remember from the “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Storybook” that I had when I was a kid: the Wampa attack on the Rebel base on Hoth. As a kid I could never understand why that was in the storybook and not in the movie. I mean there were pictures and everything! How could they have pictures if it wasn’t in the movie?!

Ahh, youth…

I’d seen the recent teaser of the deleted “Luke building his new lightsaber” scene, which was kind of cool. But here’s the Wampa attack and a Tatooine sandstorm, and more on the attack on the Endor shield generator… it looks like good stuff!

I don’t know how many times I can keep buying the same movies in different formats, though. I’ve been a fan since 1978, but come on… stop milking me dry! I’ve learned my lesson. There is obviously more they’re holding back for a future new format (like, say, when they’re converted to 3D).

Still, I’m tempted. Deep breaths… deeeep breaths.

 

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

There was a time when I was really into The Planet of the Apes series. I watched all the movies and the TV show, multiple times. I still enjoy the first and last films in the series (I’m pretty sure it was the last film… the one where they come back in time and Ceasar is born).

Now, as may be obvious, I barely remember the titles of the films. But I have fond memories of the films themselves – even the TV series.

Then there was that Mark Wahlberg remake a few years back. Yeesh. Loved the effects, but other than that… yeesh. I still can’t keep myself from laughing when I think of that ending.

So then I saw the trailer for the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes. After Wahlberg’s entry, I was more than wary, but I gave it a shot. The trailer looked good. But it could easily be that the trailer was just hiding the schlock. I was interested, but willing to give it a pass until DVD.

Then I got a call from a friend who really wanted to go see it on opening night. Yes! I love going with someone who’s excited, and with an audience who is predisposed to like it, as the opening night crowds usually are. So I went.

I’m glad I did. This is a really good movie. Ignoring the apes for a moment, John Lithgow did a great job as the father with Alzheimers, who is the unwitting reason for the entire plot and the destruction of mankind. I enjoyed seeing David Hewlett (of Stargate: Atlantis fame) as the neighbor with a string of bad experiences. James Franco did a good job, though not really stand-out, which is a shame given he’s the star. Tom Felton (“Draco” from the Harry Potter franchise) has an important role, though I think he’s not as strong as he should have been.

But then, of course, there are the apes. The effects for the apes are really very good. There were a couple of times that I thought “oh, they had a lot of actors acting likes apes for motion capture” but frequently it really did look like it could be real apes. The moment Ceasar first speaks works perfectly. I don’t want to spoil when it happens, but … nicely done. When it gets to the action scenes at the end it was done so well that I actually believed this kind of thing could happen. So impressive.

The story was what I was really worried about, but that didn’t disappoint either. The path to the destruction of the humans is paved with good intentions, marred by greed and impatience.

There were also plenty of references to the older films to satisfy those who were looking. Between my friend and I, we caught 6 references, I believe, to some memorable events in the original film. The most obvious, of course, was the use of the “Get your paws off me, you damn, dirty ape!” Charlton Heston’s appearance was sneaky and cool. Nice use of the Statue of Liberty, and the references to the space mission were much appreciated. I think they even got a reference to the Wahlberg remake in the design of one of the apes (the orangutan).  There were a couple of others. What did you catch?

I’ll end with, appropriately, a comment about the credits. Very cool use of airline routes to evoke thoughts of missile strikes, subtly communicating the end of the world as we know it.

From start to finish, this movie was well done.

Did you see it yet? Planning to? What do you think?