Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Say, it's been a long time since we've had one of these: a genuine good old-fashioned Nerd Man of the Month! January's honoree, just barely sneaking in before the month comes to a close, is Jim Parsons, who plays the wildly popular Sheldon Cooper on the wildly popular "The Big Bang Theory." Yes, whether he likes it or not, Parsons has become something akin to the poster child of the new "nerds are cool" movement afoot. (A movement we, of course, heartily endorse.)
In addition to being the Neil Patrick Harris of "Big Bang" -- meaning he's pretty much the one we all wait to see on screen every week -- Parsons also gets bonus nerd points for having been something of a theater geek in his college days, founding his own non-profit theater company. And, according to Wikipedia, he was quite possibly voted "friendliest person" in his graduating high school class. We always give a big nerd flag wave to any and all skinny dudes voted "friendliest" anything. Plus, seriously, look at that picture. Who wouldn't want to pinch those cheeks and pretend you know about quantum physics with this guy?
Most importantly, he just seems like a sweet, shy, charming guy -- the kind of fellow we'd all watch from the back row of bio class and secretly pine for. Or perhaps not so secretly. If you need more convincing, just check him out here with Craig Ferguson. He even cites "Lost," bless him.
For representin' our geeky brethren with honor and makin' us proud, The Park Bench is pleased to name Jim Parsons as its Nerd Man of the Month.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
+ Speaking of books, Britian's Guardian newspaper has taken a stab at creating a science fiction literary canon, compiling their list of must-read sci-fi and fantasy novels. If you're headed for a desert island, it's probably a good idea to check this one out before departure.
+ The New York Times had an interesting article on the upcoming Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Watson. Really, though, it's just an excuse for me to repost this picture:
+ I'm practically purring at this news -- Daniel Craig will be playing the villain in the new Tintin movie with "Billy Elliot's Jamie Bell as the title character. With Nick Frost and Simon Pegg already on board and a screenplay co-written by "Doctor Who"'s Steven Moffat and "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" co-writer Edgar Wright, well, I pretty much can't wait.
+ Very sad news for avid X-Files fan. Longtime X-Files director Kim Manners passed away Sunday night after a battle with cancer. He directed 54 episodes of The X-Files including the classics "Home," "Humbug," "Leonard Betts" and the underappreciated classic "Monday." He also directed more episodes of the CW series, "Supernatural."
Friday, January 23, 2009
I want it! I want it! I want it! Yes, I totally want this new Star Trek bridge replica. And it only costs $25! It's a total bargain. I can't wait to buy my own Simon Pegg and my own John Cho and, well, what I do after that really isn't important.
Did you have a favorite genre toy when you were a kid? My pride and joy was my Millenium Falcon and the Tauntaun that I could cram Han Solo into as he ventured off to heroically let Luke die quietly on Hoth. (I had my own version of "Empire Strikes Back.") I also loved my Tie-Fighter, but, in all honesty, the family dog kept piddling on it, thereby drastically reducing its resale value...and fun value, actually. I was partial, too, to my Breyer plastic horses although I wonder now if I just liked their chemical smell because I seem to remember spending a lot more time sniffing them than racing them. Horse huffing could explain a lot about my current mental capacities, now that I think about it.
So what toys did you love?
+ So what'd you guys think of the Oscar nominations? I've only seen maybe three movies this year so I'm disinvested. Let me know what movies I should check out before the big day.
+ Need a bit of zombie goodness to make it through your Friday afternoon? Then check out this amusing video called "The Remnants" about Pringles, Wiis and life with the undead starring Ernie Hudson and Justine Bateman and a guy who looks just like a younger, thinner but equally hot Paul Rudd. If you have 12 or so minutes at lunch, check it out. It starts out slow but picks up:
The Remnants from John August on Vimeo.
+ "Bionic Woman" Michelle Ryan is going to be hanging out with Britain's top metrosexual clean guy David Tennant in the first of this year's Doctor Who specials, "Planet of the Dead." No word on whether this means she'll be the permanent companion for Eleven.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The best minds in the world of un-imagination doubled their intake of Double Soy Latte’s as they gathered in their smoke-free offices to curse the day that this chauvinistic Viper Pilot was allowed to be. But never under-estimate the power of the un-imaginative mind when it encounters an obstacle (character) it subconsciously loathes. ”Re-inspiration” struck. Starbuck would go the way of most men in today’s society. Starbuck would become “Stardoe.” What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker, as in, “Frak! Gonads Gone!”
And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, “Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!”
I’m not sure if a cigar in the mouth of Stardoe resonates in the same way it did in the mouth of Starbuck. Perhaps. Perhaps it “resonates” more. Perhaps that’s the point. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is this…
Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. Hamlet does not scan as Hamletta. Nor does Hans Solo as Hans Sally. Faceman is not the same as Facewoman. Nor does a Stardoe a Starbuck make. Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies. And thus the world for thousands of years has gone’ round.Benedict's been bitching about BSG for years but this stuff is just hilarious. I may save this one for those rainy days when I need a good laugh.
Yes, Bradley Whitford and Joss Whedon are doing a movie together.
I may have cried a little just then. It was announced today that "West Wing"'s Bradley Whitford and some dude named Richard Jenkins are signed on (or close to signing) to star in "The Cabin in the Woods," the upcoming horror flick penned by Whedon and "Cloverfield" writer and "Buffy" alumnus Drew Goddard, who also will direct. Says Goddard, "It's really just your basic typecasting: When you need two actors to run through the woods in low-cut nighties, you immediately think of Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford."
No one seems to know what the flick is really about except, well, there's a cabin in the woods and it's Joss Whedon so it's probably safe to assume there will be jokes, fearsome rabbits, perhaps a vampire with fruit-punch mouth and at least one completely unnecessary and gut-wrenching death.
I'll be tuned in, that's for sure. The movie is scheduled for release in February 2010.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
+ For those of you keeping track at home, everyone's favorite Scottish Love Bear David Tennant has been named Hello Magazine's second most attractive man (blasphemers!) after that goggle-eyed Pattinson kid. Tennant can console himself though with being named the UK's Top Metrosexual Role Model in a recent poll conducted by Superdrug. The honor goes to the "person in the public eye who took most care of their appearance." Ah yes, there's something to put in the old CV: earned rave reviews as Hamlet, sang Smiths' songs with dignity in Blackpool and am quite, quite clean."
+ Did you see Legoland's rendition of yesterday's Inauguration celebration? Very cool indeed:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
The Best of the Best
Stephen Fry -- Hands down, the most entertaining celebrity on Twitter is Stephen Fry, British humorist, world traveler, bon vivant, technology wizard and the Jeeves to Hugh Laurie's Wooster. Fry is like the Russian gymnasts of Twitter -- he scores across the board in all categories and always sticks his landings. (I don't know what that means actually.) His Tweets are funny, cheerful and chatty. And he always writes about interesting things, whether it's traveling in New Zealand or just walking the streets of Manhattan. Reading his Tweets feels akin to riding around in the man's coat pockets while he points out all the amazing sights. Plus, you have to love a man who signs most all his Tweets with a little "x." His Tweets brighten my day...and that's not something I thought I'd ever say about a very tall, very grown man I've never met.
Wil Wheaton -- Pretty much anything Wil Wheaton releases into the world of the webs is worth reading. The guy is just a class act all around and manages to make just about every Tweet interesting and readable, whether he's writing about going to an L.A. Kings hockey game or talking about his column writing or making the occasional random Wesley Crusher reference. Plus, he's geek through and through. What's not to love? Wheaton's not a flashy celeb and he's not always aiming for the seats with his posts but he's just super-solid and never disappoints. I like that in an imaginary Twitter friend.
John Hodgman -- It almost seems as if Twitter was invented solely for a writer as pithy as John Hodgman. Terse and hilariously to the point, Hodgman's Tweets are little nuggets of sweet, sweet entertainment. The stuff he says seems to come from some slightly skewed realm of the universe, which is exactly what you want to be reading when you're stuck at your office desk all day long.
Neil Gaiman -- You may notice a trend here: the writers tend to be the best Twitterers and Gaiman is no slouch in either category. He tends to write about mundane stuff which is fine by me because he does it so well. In fact, yesterday, he single handedly made me want to eat a stick of butter just by describing how he gets his dog to swallow pills. (Hint -- it involves butter.) Again, as with Stephen Fry, I feel like I'm just padding around the guy's house with him, having a cup of coffee and conversing in really, really short sentences.
Jonathan Coulton -- Okay, besides the writers, this musician's pretty good too. Even if you're not a fan of his music (which would be an actual sin, by the way), you've got to follow him just to read the dialogues that occasionally spring up between him and Hodgman, often with a Wheaton comment flung in for good measure. It's quite the geektastic trio of awesomeness when the Tweets start to fly.
The Middle of the Road
Felicia Day -- Scores huge points on seeming quite sweet and nerdy but she just doesn't pack the entertaining punch the way the guys above do. She posts a lot, which is nice, and also provides some fascinating insight on what it's like to be a working actor. Again, did I mention she seems really nice?
Peter Sagal -- Host of NPR's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" and my secret imaginary Saturday afternoon boyfriend, Sagal can make me laugh so hard listening to his show that I have to pull the car over sometimes just to catch my breath. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate well to the Twitter world, which just means that the man works better with more than 140 characters at his disposal.
Kevin Murphy -- Formerly of the MST3K and now of The Rifftraxx, Murphy's a dude I like as well but sometimes his posts just seem, well, like he's trying too hard. He doesn't have the Twitter ease of a Wheaton or a Fry. Total A for effort though.
Penn Jillette -- For one thing, doesn't post very often. For the second thing, who knew a guy who comes off as brash and completely fucking weird as Penn Jillette could be so mild on Twitter? Seriously. I feel like he's raising his hand and asking permission before uploading each Tweet. C'mon, Penn, live a little. Don't let The Tweet Man hold you back. At least post in all caps once in a while. It'll make me worry about you less.
Brent Spiner -- Also known as The Man Who Once Played Data. Well, how can I put this? He just seems cranky. And also kind of a dick. I could be completely wrong. I've only been following him for a few days, but seriously, for every pleasant comment he has, he writes like four "get off my lawn" fist-shakers.
Dave Foley -- Only given low marks because he's apparently stopped Twittering. I hope he comes back. Any man who describes himself as "a less famous version of me five years ago" needs to return to the Twitter fold.
Are there any favorites you follow who we should all be adding to our lists? Please share!
Friday, January 16, 2009
That was definitely worth the long, excruciating wait.
Also, one of the more depressing season premieres you'll ever see. I did, however, help me see the similarities between "Battlestar Galactica" and "National Lampoon's Vacation": two dads go on a really long trip to get their families to the promised land (Earth, Wally World, same thing). When they get there, it's closed and they both go completely nuts. I would have given a million dollars to see Bill Adama punch a moose in the nose.
So, where to start? There were so many highlights, which I'll talk about here so as not to ruin stuff for those who have yet to see it.
What'd you guys think?
P.S. Can you tell I don't know how to do proper cuts? D'oh.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The world is a different place since last The BSG aired. Dinosaurs no longer roam the Earth. Noah built some sort of ark. The Milky Way was born and invented a candy bar. In short, approximately 12 billion years have passed since this show last aired.
Expectations are high for tonight's return. For months and months, actors, writers, directors, Canadians who stood outside while they filmed episodes and lucky critics who've actually seen the premiere episode have been telling us we will be completely blown away by the last half of this season. Will the show live up to the anticipation?
I'm guessing yes. For one thing, the show is ending because the story is done, not because the tank's empty. For another thing, save for the occasional "Woman King" and "Black Market," this show really doesn't falter...and it definitely doesn't falter when it comes to big finishes and grand finales. This show has blown my mind so often it's positively indecent.
So right now, I'm counting down the minutes until 10 p.m. tonight (and am praying George Bush doesn't have the urge to make another farewell address). It'll be good to have my imaginary friends back. It's like coming back to school after a 12 billion year summer vacation. Will Baltar still remember me? Will Roslin continue her amazing trend of never once losing her glasses despite an apocalypse or two? Will Adama continue to out-Bauer Jack Bauer in the whispery angry guy category? Will Saul Tigh ever turn that frown upside down? Will Tyrol continue to be awesomely insane? How long can Helo flex? Will Kara wipe her boots on Anders the Human Doormat or just be done with it and shoot him? How many times will I worry that Six's dress can't possibly fight gravity much longer? Too many questions. But finally, it's time for some answers.
Welcome back, BSG. I missed you...even if I did cheat on you with a skinny guy in a flying blue box all summer. Sorry about that.
NOTE: If you're recording BSG tonight, don't forget it runs 3 1/2 minutes long. You won't want to miss the surprise ending when Baltar finally figures out how to make out with himself.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I will admit right here and now that I've always been fascinated by Ricardo Montalban. He was always so smooth and collected. As I child, I wanted to go to "Fantasy Island" just so I could listen to the sophisticated man in the fine tuxedo speak in that deep, rich voice about, I don't know, leather maybe? I could never imagine what his words would be, I could just hear the voice saying them. Paradox all the way, baby.
And then there was "Wrath of Khan." Others may disagree but I will contend that there has never been a better "Star Trek" baddie than Khan. How the producers ever fit the egos of both Montalban and Shatner into the same little movie, with them chewing off all those delicious pieces of scenery, is beyond me. I watch it now and all I can think is, "The manly men, they 'splode!"
Also, and perhaps most important of all, Montalban had the most amazing chesticular muscles ever shown on screen. I always believed they were fake -- pec implants formed from genuine Corinthian leather -- but many, many people have convinced me they were actually his own bulging manly space muscles to which I say, "Well done, Mr. Montalban, well done."
And without Montalban's character, we never would have had the legendary cry of "Khaaaaan!!!!!!!!" also known as The Single Best Shatner Moment in the History of The Shatnerian Universe.
In all sincerity, I'll miss Mr. Montalban but I'll never forget him. I can't resist adding "or his pecs," and frankly, I think he'd be okay with that.
+ Has anyone else been watching the new season of '24'? Is it just me or does Kiefer Sutherland now sound exactly like Andy Samberg's impression of Mark Wahlberg? Weird.
+ Also, oops, I totally forgot the Golden Globes were on this past Sunday -- and instead watched "Tess of the D'Urbevilles" on "Masterpiece Theater," which was, wow, kind of a downer story. Anyway, I know I'm three days late in saying this but Tina Fey's acceptance speech (at the Golden Globes, not on "Masterpiece Theater") was awesome. Here it is for anyone else who missed the glitz and glamor of the Foreign Press on Sunday:
+ And finally, have you heard the PETA wants to rename fish "sea kittens" so that people will be less likely to go fishing and eat them? Okay, first let me just say, I think PETA does some very fine work and the world is a better place because of them and I can kind of understand the point they're making. Second, though, what the hell? It's statements like these that make them sound crazy...and also make me laugh in a sick, ashamed way, so yay:
"Most parents would never dream of spending a weekend torturing kittens for fun with their families, but hooking a sea kitten through the mouth and dragging her through the water is the same as hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car," Byrne says.
Again, I love animals and cheer loudly whenever another panda mauls a drunk guy at the zoo, but this seems like a rather skewed PR scheme. Good for them if it works, though, I guess. I can't wait to break out my set of cards tonight and play Go Sea Kitten....
Monday, January 12, 2009
Enjoy this sampling. As with crack, the first taste is completely free:
* Maybe it's time I introduce Cute British Men Falling Asleep?
ETA: The other nice thing about watching these videos is that they reassure me that mine is not the messiest house in the country. Woo!
Friday, January 09, 2009
The museum, which has actual displays as well as a virtual, online space, has everything from romantic letters to photographs to gifts given to lovers such as soft toys, but also includes unusual exhibits such as a prosthetic leg donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his physiotherapist.
In Berlin, an axe used by a woman to break up her ex-girlfriend's furniture, along with the broken furniture, was on display alongside a wedding dress and a pair of skates.
Every single object in the museum is anonymous, and has a short description of the relationship it was part of.
+ Did you know you can watch all 17 episodes of "The Prisoner" on the AMC website? I've never seen this series although I've heard amazing things about it, so you know what I've got planned for this weekend.
+ Ah, yes, this was done before with "Lost" but it's still funny -- "Battlestar Galactica" done in Facebook updates. My favorite? "Gaius Baltar became a fan of himself."
+ So will the color pink traumatically scar your small female child? Find out in this article which is equal parts ridiculous and fascinating. Somehow I don't think wearing pink means little girls are being oppressed by The Man, but it is rather sad that they have so few color choices. Of course, when I say "sad," I mean "earns maybe half a frown if I'm feeling hormonal."
Thursday, January 08, 2009
While you're indulging in some highly prized quiet time today, take a minute to check out this terrific article in "The Atlantic" called "Caring for Your Introvert" by Jonathan Rauch.
It's one of the first pieces of writing I've come across that really explains the inner life of an introvert and why so many people think we're, well, weird. I wouldn't trade being an introvert for anything -- after all, it's at the heart and soul of my nerdy nature -- but it would be nice to get a little slack for our social awkwardness and have people realize, hey, we just can't help it.
Here's a taste of what Rauch has to say:
Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.
Well said, Jonathan. If I were an extrovert, I'd send you a note of congratulations.
I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.
Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes....
What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating....
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
+ Check out this clip of the first two minutes of "Sometimes a Great Notion," the Battlestar Galactica season 4.5 premiere episode. It looks really, really uplifting and happy! Okay, not really. A tip of the hat to the poster who commented, though, that it "looks like just an average day in Vancouver to me." By the way, who here thinks Roslin's just going to go bat-shit crazy before this whole thing is over? Hand raised....
+ Looking to class up your residence? Then why not build your own giant Atari joystick lamp?
+ The competition's set to get fierce as gigantic holes in the ground and lakes with scary monsters in them vie for inclusion in the New 7 Wonders of Nature rankings. Competitors include Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon and Loch Ness. Personally, I vote for Loch Ness not just because I had a weird old guy serenade me with a harmonica on the side of the road by the Loch but also because the Nessie 2000 Experience was the greatest rip-off museum ever -- who else would invite you in to disprove their meal ticket and then deposit you in a gift shop after bursting your bubble? Top that, Grand Canyon!
+ This is pretty cool, despite initially looking like the opening credits of a Saturday night Sci-Fi Channel movie -- a 3-D fly-through of a supernova. This is not an artist's rendering, but instead is derived from "visualized data" gathered by Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope. (I kind of wanted to make a prostitute joke right there, but I refrained.)
Monday, January 05, 2009
Here's a very good interview with Smith and also with David Tennant, who I initially thought was in his jammies but that just turned out to be wishful thinking, talking about being The Doctor. Smith seems like a very charming young man and I'm sure he'll be a great Doctor. Of course, I still refuse to believe Ten is leaving... ETA: Forgot to include this article on possible new companions for Eleven. Lily Allen? Really?
+ The lyrics for the musical commentary for the musical Dr. Horrible are up and available on the Dr. Horrible website. Personally, I think all letters and e-mails sent to the Whedons commenting on the commentary should be in musical form, just to boast the meta content a bit more.
+ I like this story just for the title alone -- Top Ten Things Launched Into Space In 2008 -- from Wired. Look at these cute but very, very hardy little microbes that got rocketed into the great beyond to see how long they lasted in harsh conditions. The tardigrades, as they're called, did quite well, thank you very much. 'Course, that doesn't negate the fact that they look like the Michelin Man mated with a manatee:
+ An article on Wired's Sexiest Geeks of 2008, as voted by many, many apparently delusional male readers...who also like Stephen Colbert? Anyway, kind of a weird list to me but to each their own. At least a Deschanel sister made the cut.
+ SciFi.com has a new clip up from the Caprica pilot. Here it is at Galactica Sitrep. Speaking of Galactica, woo hooooo, only 11 more days 'til the big show. There's been tons of spoilers swirling around out there about the ending, but I'm keeping my eyes firmly closed. And here's a compelling argument from the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan, who has seen the season 4.5 premiere, on why ignorance is going to be tres bliss come Jan. 16.