Friday, August 29, 2008

Least shocking headline ever

'Californication' star in rehab for sex addiction

Poor David. It's good that he's getting help yet I can't help but feel this is something of a loss for the ladies of the world, like finding out there's a roller coaster on the moon...and immediately finding out it's being closed. It's not like we would have had a chance to ride it, but it was nice to know, just for a moment, that tickets were available.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black holes? I was planning on being snuggled to death by kittens

So, is anybody else worried about the possibility of black holes forming and ending all life as we know it when the world's most powerful atom smasher gets up and running on Sept. 10?

According to the Cosmic Log blog on MSNBC, the CERN particle-physics center is flicking the switch on a 17-mile underground ring called the Large Hadron Collider buried under the French-Swiss border. The LHC will engage in some wacky proton-on-proton action -- dirty! -- and possibly create some microscopic black holes in the process. The article says the LHC might also create "supersymmetric dark-matter particles, quark-gluon plasma, the elusive Higgs boson (a.k.a. the "God Particle") and other exotic stuff." By other exotic stuff, I hope they mean flying llamas. Seriously. If we're going to get crazy with this stuff, let's fuck up some South American pack animals and really go all the way.

Of course, the LHC, which I hope looks like something out of "Tron," is also going to help solve medical research issues and unlock the keys to the universe so I suppoooose it's important but it all seems very dangerous to me. Mostly because I don't understand science and also because the French are involved and I don't trust them with technology. Go drive a Citroen and then talk to me about your confidence levels on this one.

One of the top researchers on the project has the thankless job of reassuring the masses that planet Earth won't wink out of existence anytime least not because of what they're doing. Here's what he says:

The crucial point is this: The black holes that could be produced by the LHC would be very, very small objects. Now, the black hole absorbs matter that gets in its way, right? If you assume that the black hole only eats whatever falls into its trajectory, you find out that it would take a nearly infinite amount of time before it could do any damage to earth. It just cannot grow fast enough, because it’s too small.

So, if I'm understanding this correctly, the black hole will stay small because it can't absorb enough matter in its way to make a difference. So they just need to make sure that Ted, the guy who's put on a few pounds since Christmas and who fills his pockets with Twinkies every day, stays out of the way of these things because if they eat him, we're fucked. Just like those flying llamas.

Of course, if some gigantic rift opens in the space-time continuum and scary dragons emerge, I'm pretty sure all we have to do is throw Sarah Michelle Gellar at it and things will be fine. It worked on "Buffy," right? Although then it led to scenes of Michelle Trachtenberg "acting sad." It might be too high a price to pay.

The good news is that the LHC shouldn't be running at full capacity for another year. So if you have little or no faith in physicists ("That Hawking, he's a bad apple!"), then now would be a good time to do every drunken, irresponsible thing you ever wanted to do...which means Amy Winehouse has probably known about this project all her life.

Alright, well, happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lost Weekends, 21st century-style

Years ago, lost weekends were the result of respectable things such as drunken blackouts and drug-induced comas. Not so these days. No, these days our time suckers are far more insidious. This activity goes by many names: Toasting Buns in the DVD Oven, I Can't Say No To Discs, Netflix Made Me Do It and too many others to count. Personally, I like to call it Losing Precious Hours of My Young Life to Entire DVD Box Sets of TV Shows I Always Thought Were No Good But Am Now Suddenly Sucked Into Like a Hamster Into a Hoover.

For short.

I'm completely convinced that more American productivity is lost watching an entire TV series in one sitting than is lost to crack, ecstasy and meth combined. Mostly because you can't buy any of those things at Target, download them or have them delivered in a classy red envelope to your door. Yet.

The past month alone, I have watched the first four and a half seasons of "The Sopranos" and roughly 30-some episodes of "Weeds." (Kevin Nealon rules.) As a soul without premium cable, I never got to see "The Sopranos," the first time around. I missed out on the joy of this paean to eye-splitting New Jersey fashion and women with nails that could scare a grizzly. Plus, I was chronically pissed that it kept beating "The West Wing" year after year at the Emmys. But I finally checked it out and was a goner immediately. It was hilarious. It was dark and twisted and sick...and Tony Soprano was a fascinating middle-American train wreck, part Fred Flintstone, part Homer Simpson with a slight speech impediment. How great is that? I'll tell you. It was so great that Netflix's daily deliveries were not arriving fast enough and like any junkie, I started going to great lengths to get my fix. The disk for season 2 episode 10 didn't arrive in today's mail? That's okay. I don't mind driving the 17 miles to the nearest Blockbuster that has one on its shelf. I must have contributed a panda's worth of carbon into the atmosphere with all the driving I did, just so I could find out what Adriana was going to tell the Feds about Christopher's drug problem. Would Dr. Melfi take Tony back? Would the ducks ever return? Would Silvio finally realize that his clothes were cruel to the sighted community? I had to keep watching.

Except when I took a break to suck down three seasons of "Weeds"* in the span of seven days. Again, I never had the urge to see this show. Oddly enough, it was a "West Wing" thing again -- Mary Louise Parker aggravated me to no end as Amy on "WW." It was like dragging nails on a blackboard in slo-mo ever time she walked on screen. So when the husband asked me to try "Weeds," I was reluctant but within 20 minutes, I was a convert. And entire days went missing....

I'm convinced that all of our modern ills are caused by people like me, slacking off at their jobs, ordering pizzas and sitting on the couch to spend days watching disc after disc of TV shows. It's easy to exercise moderation when your stories, as my grandmother used to call them, only come on once a week -- or in the case of the Sci-Fi Channel, once a year. You have plenty of time to feed your children, walk the dog, pretend you have a life and aren't wondering where you can buy a Hurley action figure. But with box sets, it's all there right in front of you: the whole story, every cliffhanger answered, every mystery solved. How can you not bite into that digital apple of TV sin? It's unavoidable.

Soon, I'm guessing the Federal government will crack down on all this enjoyment, limiting us to two discs of "Lou Grant" per month or some such nonsense. And you know what that means.

I gotta watch faster. With enough Red Bull and judicious use of the fast-forward button, I'm pretty sure I can watch "Deadwood," "Rome," "Freaks and Geeks," "Supernatural" and "Saved by the Bell" all in one weekend, right? Like the little engine that could, I think I can. Oh yes, I think I can.

* The only bad thing about this show? It has the most horribly infectious, "can't ever shake it out of my brain" theme song ever written for television. If we ever want to get another South American dictator out of an embassy, let's just blast that thing at his door over and over and over again. Trust me, it'll work. "Little boxes, on a hillside..." Noooooo!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Polishing up the rabbit ears for a new TV season

Much as I’ve enjoyed watching absolutely nothing of consequence on TV for the last four months, save DVDs of “The Sopranos” which I’m about ten years late in recognizing is awesome, I’m extraordinarily thrilled that the new TV season is almost upon us. There are four new shows in particular that have tickled my fancy and which I’m hoping will live up to my inflated and childishly overwrought expections:

"Fringe" (debuting Sept. 9 on FOX)
Okay, even though there’s a Whedon production waiting in the wings, this may be the show I’m actually most excited about. Developed by J.J. “I’m fucking awesome at pilots and I spent $10 million on this one” Abrams, “Fringe” is about two FBI agents who are forced to work with an institutionalized scientists to solve unexplained phenomena. This series has a lot of things going for it: one, Abrams, who has yet to disappoint me with a series; two, it sounds like a total rip-off of “The X-Files” but in a good way, like they might actually know where they want it to go and how it will end – crazy! – and three, Joshua Jackson is one of the leads. Now, I was a “Dawson’s Creek” snob but I gotta tell you, I always liked that Pacey kid. This one rates a 9 out of 10 on my anticipation scale.

"Caprica" (mini-series debut in December on SCI-FI)
From the makers of “Battlestar Galactica” comes this prequel, set 50 years before the Cylon War and focusing on the interaction between two families: the Adamas and the Greystones. The latter has developed the artificial intelligence that will one day become the cylon race and result in the near annihilation of humanity. Honestly, I can’t keep track of whether “Caprica” has been picked up as a series or not, but from all the rave reviews the pilot has been getting, I’m guessing it’s a foregone conclusion unless every BSG nerd’s television breaks on the night of its debut and the thing scores a zero in the Nielsens. Truth be told, I wasn’t too amped up about the show until I saw some of the previews and now, I’m waiting as patiently as a golden retriever with a biscuit on its nose. The set design looks spectacular. I’m totally intrigued by the storyline. And who doesn’t love them some Eric Stoltz from time to time? This one’s hammering me with a 10 out of 10 in anticipation.

"Dollhouse" (debuting in January 2009 on FOX)
Holy hell, it’s a new Joss Whedon show! I’m trying very hard not to get my hopes up for this because Joss Whedon shows on FOX are like goldfish that you get at the fair. You fall in love with them and then FOX kills them…or something like that. The series stars Eliza Dushku (who, let me just admit right now, I kinda hated a lot as Faith on “Buffy”), Amy Acker (who I kinda loved as Fred on “Angel”) and he of the soulful forehead and sexy overbite, Tahmoh Penikett from “Battlestar.” The show revolves around a human lab rats who are sent out to complete various assignments and are given different personalities and memories to best serve their mission. The concept doesn’t really do it for me but then neither did the first couple episodes of “Firefly” and I quickly proved myself wrong on that one. I should just learn by now to “Trust in Joss” because he has never, ever done me wrong. Except on “Alien 3” and that totally wasn’t his fault. And hey, because this is a Whedon show, who wants to take first bets on who the lesbian character will be? I’m guessing Tahmoh but I could be reaching. Also, I can tell you right now that in the last episode, a beloved character will get killed off for no reason. I learned some stuff from "Buffy." Anticipation scale? I’m clocking in at a 8.5 on this one.

"Virtuality" (debuting sometime in 2009)
Another one from the makers of “BSG,” this show revolves around the Phaeton, Earth’s first starship, and the virtual reality modules installed on the ship to keep its human crew from going insane on a ten-year mission to explore the solar system. Naturally, things go wrong. The details are still pretty hazy on this one, but at this point, I’ll tune in to watch Ron Moore’s home movies so sign me up. Looking at a 7 out of 10 on the scale but only because I don’t know enough yet to know how awesome it will be.

I’m also looking forward to “Kath & Kim” but only because I tangentially knew Selma Blair growing up and she always seemed really nice. Also, she set fire to things in “Hellboy,” so, go Selma!

What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nerd Man of the Month: Adam Baldwin

This month’s Nerd Man and I go way back – in the sense that we’ve never met and I just watch him a lot on TV. When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was called “My Bodyguard,” a movie about a kid who goes to a new school and gets beaten up all the time until he hires the troubled, brooding big guy to protect him. As someone who used to get crammed into lockers on a frequent basis, this movie spoke to me…and it didn’t hurt that the brooding guy was kind of hot. His name? Adam Baldwin. And not only did he continue to be hot, he then started starring in pretty much every good sci-fi show and movie produced in the last 15 years, from “The X-Files,” “Angel” and “Independence Day” to “Firefly,” “Serenity” and now “Chuck.” My friends, he was even in the cheesy TV remake of “The Poseidon Adventure,” in which he ROCKED.

And unlike most people who aren’t animated characters on “South Park,” he looks damn good in an orange knit hat. These are just a few of the reasons why Adam Baldwin has earned August’s Nerd Man of the Month honors.

Baldwin’s not just another pretty face. In fact, he’s not very pretty at all. He looks like an archetypal tough guy, all brawn and scowl. But here’s what makes him different, separating him, so to speak, from the Vin Diesel chaff: he’s pretty damn funny and never more so when he’s uttering the words of Joss Whedon. Baldwin’s 13 episodes as Jayne in Whedon’s “Firefly” left an indelible impression. He managed to make Jayne arrogant, ridiculous, cold-hearted, endearing, dangerous and reluctantly good all at once – sometimes all in one scene. He was the menacing funny guy. Only Jayne could have become a folk hero by running away and accidentally dropping all his stolen cash, making the people of Canton believe he was their Robin Hood. And only Baldwin could have conveyed the utter horror and arrogant pride that Jayne felt when he realized just how much all those Cantonians loved him. In fact, let’s all take a moment and reflect on “The Hero of Canton,” a man named sung by Baldwin:

The thing is, nerds love underdogs, too, and in the world of acting, Baldwin seems like the ultimate underdog. He’s never been a huge star and probably never will be. He’s never headlined a movie or shown up on Perez Hilton’s site. Even in his new series, “Chuck,” where he plays a government agent assigned to protect the geeky title character (flashback to “My Bodyguard?”), he’s rarely center stage but he always, always steals the scene. He’s a guy who seems to just work hard, plug along and quietly entertain the millions of people who secretly know he’s awesome. And in the end, well, that’s a hugely endearing quality.

So please join me in doffing our flappy-eared hats and honoring Adam Baldwin with this month’s Nerd Man title. Now let’s go shoot some space guns! It’s what Jayne would want.

Friday, August 15, 2008

At least he was already in formal wear

America will never be as cool as England and Norway for the simple reason that we do not knight our penguins. Yes, a king penguin got knighted recently, an upgrade from his former colonel-in-chief rank.

Says the article:

The knighthood ceremony began Friday morning with speeches and a fanfare before Nils arrived, under escort with the King's Guard Color Detachment. Nils then reviewed the troops lined up outside the penguin enclosure at the zoo, waddling down the row of uniformed soldiers, occasionally stopping to crane his neck and peer inquisitively at their crisp uniforms before being guided forward by his handler.

Nils was then knighted by British Maj. Gen. Euan Loudon on behalf of Norway's King Harald V. Loudon dropped the king's sword on both sides of Nils' black-and-white frame, and the penguin's colonel-in-chief badge, tied to his flipper, was swapped for one symbolizing his knighthood.

"He'll be a "sir" now," Finlay said.

It's the "he'll be a 'sir' now" that makes it art.

Friday Potpourri

+ It's official. Everything I want to see has been pushed back to 2009. First, the second half of BSG season four got moved to January 2009 and now, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" has been moved to July 2009 from its initial release date of this November. Grrr. It's not fair that I have to age a whole extra year before I get my geek fixes.

+ Julia Child, dispatcher of broasted chickens and Nazis. How cool is it that she was a spy! I love it. I can't wait until someone makes a movie of this. I was impressed to see who else was a super secret WWII spy as well: Ernest Hemingway's son; historian and special assistant to JFK, Arthur Schlesinger (can't you hear the Oval Office conversation between those two? "PT boat hero? Pfttht, I was a frickin' spy, Mr. President!") and actor Sterling Hayden of "Dr. Strangelove" fame and utterer of the extraordinarily awesome "they're stealing our precious bodily fluids" rants. A wave of the flag to a great collection of bad-ass spies.

+ You know who would make a fine gentleman spy? Neil Patrick Harris. It's Friday so let's share a little NPH love. Check him out singing on "Sesame Street." Thanks to Park Bench reader Michelle for the link!

+ What do you guys think of Wired's list of 10 Geeky Movies That Should Have Been Great But Weren't? I agree on "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," which I actually tried to watch with the sound off just so I could at least enjoy the pretty pictures, but I disagree completely with their assessment of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Johnny Depp doing Carol Channing? Trained squirrels? Musical Oompa-Loompas? What wasn't there to love?

+ Okay, is it just me or does the recently "discovered" Bigfoot carcass not bear a striking resemblance to the guy in the ape suit in "Trading Places?" Mystery solved.


Trading Places:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Magical Power of My Boobs

I would just like to apologize in advance to my husband, my parents, my in-laws and yes, my illiterate cat, for the following blog entry.

I recently discovered that my boobs, aside from providing buoyancy in the event of a shipwreck and serving as the perfect holding place for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s during "Battlestar" marathons, serve a number of other equally advantageous purposes. And by “equally advantageous purposes,” I of course mean that they’re magical.

I’m not saying they're magical in the sense that they could fly or engage in combat with Gandalf – although how sweet would that be! No, they’re magical in the sense that they can make things happen with no help from me other than simply wearing a low-cut blouse and occasionally leaning over.

Yes, I have discovered – way too late in life, I might add – that complete strangers will do things for me at the drop of a boob. Do I not feel like opening doors on Thursdays? Well, my boobs can take care of that. Choose the right top and guys at the bank are holding doors open for me from 10 yards away. Can’t reach the paper towels at Target? A slight lean to the left, an “I just don’t know what to do” look on my face and bam! There’s a 12-pack of Brawnys in my shopping cart. Have I gone to a meeting unprepared and unable to answer questions with any semblance of rational thought and I’m desperate for no one to notice? Take a break, third button down on my shirt, you’re services will no longer be needed this afternoon!

The sad thing is that if I were not a nerdy woman, I would have been taking advantage of this power for the last 20 years or so instead of just realizing it – oh, I don’t know – last month!

Just think if I’d known about this power in 2000. The girls and I would have stood in front of every voting booth in America, confusing the minds of millions of male voters and swaying the election. President Al Gore would have given my cleavage the Medal of Freedom...and totally checked me out at the presentation. Children (well, Democratic children) would have sung songs about my rack. Actual racks – you know, for drying dishes and such – would have been renamed The Liz-es in my honor. Let’s not even think about how Mount Rushmore would have changed! (Hint: there would have been boobs.)

I’m not going to get crazy with this new-found superpower. Like Superman and Batman, I’m going to conceal the true nature of my boobs’ powers until such times as they are absolutely, say, at a rodeo when I don’t want to buy my own caramel corn.

Okay, I’m kidding about the rodeo. In all seriousness, though, it’s like discovering that I have the ability to pull a tablecloth out from under a place setting without cracking the china. It’s a cool parlor trick but I’m not going to be doing it all day long. At heart, I’m a repressed Catholic nerd who dresses for comfort not style. Thirty-some years into being me, I don’t see that changing too much.

So my magical boobs and I will bide our time, waiting until the exact moment when they’re needed most. Yes, if I look up into the night sky and see a silhouette of my awesome rack above Gotham City, I will answer the call.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Books that tell a story

Like hard candy, coffee filters or husbands, there are some things that just aren't as good used. On the flip side, there's plenty of stuff that's even better after being broken in. Like books. I was going through my home library the other day, trying to decide what books to keep and what books to give away. And, because I am weird, I can usually remember where and when I got certain books. For me, it's the used ones that stand out most for me.

One reason, I think, is because used bookstores are always infinitely more intriguing than your run-of-the-mill Barnes and Nobles and Borders. For example, I can look at my raggedy, crumbling copy of Gulliver's Travels and remember, ah, this one came from that bookstore that smelled like wet terrier where that one-eyed guy waited on me. Or, yes, this is from the stash I took home from The Strand. I always feel like a miner when I go to a huge used book store, digging my way through the stacks to find those lost gems that I can't believe no one else claimed before me. I want to lift the books over my head at the check-out counter and cheer like a big loser because, yeah, baby, that first edition Dorothy Parker is MINE!

The other reason I love my used books is because they have a history of their own. In college, I wanted to read some Sherlock Holmes short stories. I found a beautiful hard-cover collection filled with all of Conan Doyle's short fiction. I was happy just to find all those great stories in one spot. My prize was made all the better when I got home and looked at the frontis piece and found a name inscribed there with details telling me that it had belonged to a young private in the days of World War II. Suddenly, my book had a history. I wondered if the soldier had taken this obook verseas with him. I wondered if he'd stayed behind in the states. I wondered if he'd been injured or did he make it back home safely? My book became its own mystery and I think of its previous owner every time I open it up. I love that.

The same with reading margin notes from those who read before me or seeing what they underlined. It's like having a book club with people I've never met -- but who obviously have great taste because, hey, we're reading the same novel, aren't we?

I also love that used books connect me to other eras. For years, I was a dedicated collector -- some would say chronic hoarder -- of first editions from the 1920s and 1930s. Dorothy Parker collections, as I mentioned above, followed by Robert Benchley short stories. The day I was in London, tucked away in the basement of a used book store, and uncovered a manuscript that was owned by W.H. Auden -- well, I can still remember my heart thumping as I clutched this piece that had been held, read and studied by a poet I admired so deeply. It was like touching history, the closest I'd ever come to meeting a mind long gone.

Plus, hey, nine times out of ten, used books are a heck of a lot less expensive than the brand-spanking-new kind. So I can get my history, get my touch of personality and be a total cheap skate all at the same time. What's not to love about that?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Did someone say bad prose? I'm all over that.

Ah, I love the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest -- yup, the contest devoted to terrible first lines and inspired by that golden oldie, "It was a dark and stormy night." The winners have been announced and here are a few favorites:

"Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater - love touches you, and marks you forever." By Beth Fand Incollingo

"'Toads of glory, slugs of joy,' sang Groin the dwarf as he trotted jovially down the path before a great dragon ate him because the author knew that this story was a train wreck after he typed the first few words." By Alex Hall

And my personal favorite:
"'Die, commie pigs!' grunted Sergeant "Rocky" Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals." By Dave Ranson

Check out the rest of the winners here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wheaton makes me love him even more...

I don't quote other blogs too often. Probably because of my chronic self-absorption. (I jest.) Whatever the reason, though, I'm quoting now from Wil Wheaton's blog, which is one of my favorite daily stops. I enjoy his writing in general, but I absolutely love this post about his experience at Comic-Con. It's a great view "from the other side" and totally makes me feel better about my fear of fainting like a goat in front of Mary McDonnell:

in which i fail a vital saving throw

It was the end of the day, and my blood sugar was dangerously low. Colors and sounds were louder than they should have been. My feet and legs had been replaced by two dull, throbbing stumps that barely supported the weight of my body.

Most of the day, I'd been signing autographs for and talking with countless excited fans. Some of them shook my hand too hard and too long with a sweaty grip that trembled a little too much. Some of them stared at me uncomfortably. Some of them rambled incoherently. All of them were genuinely friendly, though.

I took it all in stride, because I've done this convention thing for -- my god -- two decades, and even though I don't think I'm anything worth getting excited about, I know that it happens sometimes, and I know how people occasionally react. I never laugh at them or make them feel lame. I never make jokes at their expense. I am understanding and grateful that they want to talk to me at all. I wouldn't want to talk to me if I was trapped with me in an elevator, and I certainly wouldn't be excited about the prospect if faced with the option. I am always grateful, and take nothing for granted.

A voice boomed over my head, blasting right through my eardrums and exploding inside my skull. The convention floor was closing, it announced, and it was time for all of us to get the fuck out.

Red-jacketed security guards emerged from shadows I hadn't noticed during the day. A handful at first, then a dozen, like zombies pouring through a breach in a barricade. They shambled forward relentlessly, single-mindedly driving a mass of exhibitors and straggling fans toward the doors.

I picked up my backpack, inexplicably heavier than it was before I emptied pounds of books from it earlier in the day, and heaved it onto my shoulders. My back screamed.

"You have to vacate the hall," a girl said to me. She couldn't have been older than eighteen, but clearly wasn't going to take any shit from anyone, especially someone in my weakened state.

"I'm on my way," I said. I turned to say goodbye to my boothmates, and saw the unmistakable visage of Jeph Jacques walk past behind them.

Continue reading here....

The cool, the sad (yet uplifting) and the cute

+ I saw this over at Geek In Anything But Pink and I'm pretty sure it's the coolest cell phone accessory ever. Screw Bluetooth. I need one of these handsets and the first thing I'm going to do when I get one? Dial 4-1-1 and ask for 1979, baby.

+ Check out this fascinating story about three comic book artists/writers including Stan Lee who are working together to tell the story of a Holocaust survivor who is trying to get her artwork back from a museum in Eastern Europe. On the one hand, it makes you think, "Wow, those museum curators are a bunch of prize-winning jackasses." On the other hand, you think, "Wow, those comic book dudes are really good guys." So it all balances out...except those curators really are assholes.

+ From io9, this mind-numbingly cute Chewbacca Mouse from Etsy is pretty much the most adorable thing my jaded geek eyes have seen in years.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Welcome to the shallow end of the pool...

To the straight men who read this blog, please forgive me while I indulge in the following fangirlish behavior:

So, uh, the Olympics start today. I think we all know what that means. Gumpy hot dudes with two percent body fat:

God bless America and the stellar abs that make our country great!

Diary of Deprivation: 96 Hours Without Internet

Day One:
The morning dawned dark and brooding. I should have known trouble was looming. And yet, I was blissful in my ignorance, trusting in the goodness of life, until I saw it: the solid red light signifying Internet failure, signifying nothingness and desolation. There would be no for me this morning. And there would be no peace.

Calls were made to AT&T. The robotic voice could not help. I must trust that a reboot will save me.

It is not to be. The repair call is made. Someone will be in touch with me shortly.

I long to know what Brett Favre has had for breakfast. What did the NFL sanction for him this morning? Wheaties? Grape Nuts? How will I know if he's had his fiber? How??

Is the problem in my line, the phone company asks? No, I whisper. It is in my soul.

Day Two:
It has been 27 hours since my last e-mail contact. I may be missing out on discount Viagra or failing to sustain a Nigerian pyramid scheme. It is as though I have slipped through the fabric of society. Spam, I weep in the knowledge that you are simply canned meat to me now. Sweet, delicious canned meat.

I now have no dial tone. DSL cannot survive without dial tone. I am not sure I can either.

I try to watch TV to get my news and entertainment info but it is not the same. I can't read a story and then post about it. I can't fight with anyone about the merits of Bill Adama's mustache. Worst of all, I don't think I know how to watch TV without being online at the same time. I have evolved into a multi-tasker. And you know what Camus said: once you're a multi-tasker, you can never go back-er.

Day Three:
I have a nightmare that Angelina Jolie has more babies...and I don't find out until three hours after the fact. This is unacceptable.

I call AT&T on my cell phone and weep silently to their mechanized call system. The robot tells me to stop being such a whiny bitch. "Don't call me names I can't blog about," I sob.

I wonder if Jack Bauer ever faced a problem like this. Wikipedia could've told me. I never appreciated you until you were gone, Group-Edited Semi-Factual Reference Guide.

Day Four:
AT&T says the repairman is on his way. Could it be? Will I have my internet back? More importantly, will he make it before I miss another Yahoo video of kittens cuddling ducks? I just don't know.

He is here! He is here! Pressing my face up against the window and scratching at the glass is freaking him out though. Must refrain.

Sweet fancy Moses juggling monkeys on a unicorn, it is fixed! Huzzah! I gorge myself on Facebook (three new "friends"), Entertainment Weekly, IO9, e-mail, Television Without Pity, Wonkette, ESPN (Favre had the Wheaties and his bowels are fine). And there are panda birthday party videos on Yahoo!

Two hours later, have finished the entire internet. It was awesome. Am now predictably bored. Please God, let someone post on "The Greatest American Dog" board. Nothing cures cyber-ennui like a good old-fashioned fox terrier flame war.

I love you, Internet. Don't ever leave me again....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Back and better than ever...or at least back!

Hey everyone, I’m back! I have returned, slightly more tan and a lot more tired, from a 4,400-mile road trip vacation through America’s glorious southwest where, dear God in heaven, it is ridiculously hot. My vacation was made even longer by the fact that we returned to no internet in our house, something which has panicked and upset me far more than I would like to admit. I am saying fervant prayers to Neil Patrick Harris and other like dieties that my connection is restored by the time I get home tonight. If not, how will I know how many BSG spoilers I’m avoiding??

Before I write anything else, I just want to say a hearty thank you to Ms. C, Meghann and Shan for filling in for me while I was away. They were awesome and it was really kind of them to take the time to do that. A big woo-hoo for all three!

And now, like all people just returned from a vacation, I’m totally going to prattle on for hours (okay, minutes) about “this great little place we found.” Except it’s not little and we didn’t find it. I think Bugsy Malone found it – or at least filled it with gambling and 99-cent margaritas. Yes, I’m talkin’ about Vegas. (The “baby” at the end there is implied.)

Here is why Vegas is great: there is absolutely no reason for anything that exists in Vegas to actually exist in real life. It’s like everyone just took the weirdest, most random idea they could think of and then built it. One day, I imagine Joe Blow turned to his friend and said, “You know what would be cool? Live lions on the casino floor of the MGM Grand.” And his friend said, “Sure, why not!” And lo, there were lions. Or, “Hey, let’s build a miniature Venice on Las Vegas Boulevard.” “Okay!” And suddenly I’m sitting in a little motorized boat being sung to by an Italian guy in the middle of the Nevada desert. Or – and this may be my favorite one – “let’s have 20-foot tall animatronic condors nesting in the middle of the Bellagio lobby!” I felt like Scooby-Doo the whole time I was there, rubbing my paws across my disbelieving eyes and going, “Wruht?”

Besides its random awesomeness, Vegas was great for my little nerd soul, too. First, the husband and I were able to recreate our favorite scene from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” as we stumbled over and over again out of the carousel bar at Circus, Circus. That was the spot where Benicio del Toro’s character got trapped on the carousel after drinking too much and couldn’t climb out until Johnny Depp’s character yelled, “Jump, man! Quick like a bunny!” I’m sure the children at Circus, Circus were wondering why my husband and I kept shouting “Quick like a bunny!” to each other, but I like to think it lent a bit of mystery to their vacation experience.

Second, there was the “Star Trek Experience” which for me turned into “The Star Trek Gift Shop and Overpriced Faux Museum.” I was all geeked up for this exhibit...until I found out it would have cost me and the husband $100 to see the whole thing. So I just paid for the museum visit which was kinda cool – hey, look, there’s a model of Zephram Cochrane’s ship! – and kinda lousy, as in “that’s it?” So, I sort of fell down on the job with that one, but it was a budgeting decision. I needed money for roulette later!

The third cool thing was discovering that Caesar’s Palace has actually recreated the Roman spa experience. Seriously. You can do the hot bath, then the cold bath, then the steam and so on, totally reinventing what happened in actual Roman baths thousands of years ago. How cool is that? I can pamper myself and pull a little “Time Machine” stunt all at the same time!

All in all, I’m giving the nerd stamp of approval to Vegas. I miss it deeply with all its flashy lights, exploding fountains, rooftop rollercoasters and offers of “Girls to you in 20 minutes!” which, if they’d delivered pizzas, would truly have been something.

Also, we saw the Grand Canyon,* which really could have used some spicing up. I’d like to suggest lions. It totally worked in Vegas.

* Just kidding. The Grand Canyon was was the stupidity of the parents who were telling little Timmy and Janey to “scoot out just a little further” onto the ledge for that great family photo. Or, alternately, the “last known photo,” depending on just how far little Timmy went. Jeez.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The best Whedonverse singers

Greetings, Park Benchers! I'm Shan, and I'll be your guest blogger today. I normally blog over on The Nonsensical Ravings of a Lunatic Mind about television, movies, sci-fi, pop culture, news and UGA football. While the wonderful Liz is away, she's graciously asked me to help keep you entertained.

With the recent release of the 100% awesome Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and the fact that after looking high and low for the soundtrack to Buffy's "Once More With Feeling" on iTunes, I finally found it for download on Amazon's MP3 site, I thought I would discuss the "singers" from those two seminal works.

This is a perfect confluence of topics to address, since I like making lists (typically, in a feature I call "The Canon"), regularly play a couch potato version of Randy, Paula and Simon with weekly American Idol reviews (the only reality show to make it past my "quality television" filter, though "quality" is a dubious term for AI), and of course, because I'm a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer nerd. So, without further ado:

The Canon: Best Whedonverse Singers

First, a few caveats. I'm only considering the pure musical episodes, meaning "Once More With Feeling" and the entirety of Dr. Horrible. So you won't see any reference to Christain Kane, Julie Benz, Andy Hallet or David Boreanaz (Manilow!) singing on Angel, or anyone belting out "The Hero of Canton, The Man They Call Jayne" on Firefly. And I'm only ranking "series regulars," so you won't find the sublime Hinton Battle, who portrayed the demon "Sweet" on "OMWF." ("What You Feel" is probably my most played tune from the soundtrack). Or David Fury (how many of my fellow geeks regularly proclaim "they got....the mustard....out!" loudly when getting your dry cleaning? Just me? Moving on...) or Marti Noxon (parking tickets never seemed so heartbreaking). Finally, I realize that not everyone in the Buffy cast was completely enthused, or confident, about doing a musical, so there's no stigma attached to being at the bottom of the list.

1. Anthony Stewart Head. Giles' singing wasn't a surprise, after the Scoobies caught him performing "Behind Blue Eyes" during the otherwise disappointing "Where The Wild Things Are." But Head is quite the accomplished singer, with a background in musical theatre, and his "Standing" is truly heartbreaking. (Trivia: did everyone know that his older brother Murray was a one-hit wonder in the 80s with "One Night in Bangkok?")

2. Neil Patrick Harris. Who knew that Barney Stinson (or Doogie, if you prefer) was so musically talented? I was aware that he had performed on Broadway, notably in Cabaret and Assassins, but damn, was he good in Dr. Horrible. He handled both the uptempo numbers and the ballads with equal aplomb, and if you can move someone deep inside with an ode to a Freeze Ray, then you belong toward the top of this list.

3. Felicia Day. As the frozen yogurt, laundry and homeless loving Penny, Day was the lovely and tragic catalyst for the events of the Sing-Along Blog. She didn't have any true showstoppers to perform, but she has a clear and beautiful voice.

4. Amber Benson. While "Under Your Spell's" choreography won't make Bob Fosse roll over in his grave, Benson wonderfully captured Tara's love for Willow in strong voice, and her reprise of this tune, combined with Head's "Standing," gives you chillbumps.

5. James Marsters. "Rest in Peace" was a terrific showcase for Marsters' rock singer vibe, and musically and thematically perfect for Spike.

6. Emma Caufield. Her surreal, hysterical ranting about bunnies in "I've Got A Theory" is entertaining enough, but she also handled the Cole Porter-esque, playful back and forth in "I'll Never Tell" with tuneful wit.

7. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Unlike many young starlets of today, Gellar had no ambitions to release a sugary, wafer-thin pop music album, and only approached the singing in "OMWF" as an extension of the character she inhabited so very well. For someone without a significant background in musicals, she performed adequately carrying the bulk of the musical plot. What she lacked in pitch-perfect vocals, she more than compensated with a heartfelt and moving performance.

8. Nathan Fillion. Captain Hammer didn't sing his most memorable line ("The hammer is my penis."), but he did perfectly convey the hero's doltish and narcissistic charm in his opening number atop the remote-controlled van, and his final episode ode to the homeless.

9. Nicholas Brendon. He didn't have to hit the big notes to entertain; his verbal gymnastics and lyrical tap-dancing through "I've Got A Theory" and "I'll Never Tell" brought a smile and was 100% Xander.

10. Michelle Trachtenberg. Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday. Didn't have much to do, didn't want to do much, but her dancing was lovely, right?

11. Alyson Hannigan. "I think this line is mostly filler." Sweet, adorable Willow. Thank goodness her powerhouse acting can carry virtually any other episode.

So there you have it, Park Benchers. Agree or disagree? What are your favorite musical moments from "Once More With Feeling" or Dr. Horrible? Which singers rack up the biggest play count on your iTunes?

Finally, as an extra special guest blog bonus, I'll select one random lucky Park Bench commenter to receive their choice of an iTunes credit for the full series of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, or a copy of the "Once More With Feeling" soundtrack.

Thanks to Liz for letting me be Julie McCoy, your blog cruise director around these parts for a day.