Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ewoks gone wild!

You already may have seen or heard about this, but if you haven't, check out these two seriously messed up Ewoks as they disrupt a Today show segment from yesterday. Absolutely hilarious. Thanks for the link, Megan!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nerd Man of the Month: Christopher Eccleston

We haven't had many dark, brooding, intense Nerd Men of the Month before so we're taking care of all those adjectives in one fell swoop with Christopher Eccleston. The man is everywhere this month, gaining the best reviews of anyone in the new "Amelia" film and arriving on DVD in the flick, "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra." And he's also just been cast in the upcoming film, "The Beautiful Fantastic" with fellow "Doctor Who" alum Carey Mulligan (Sally Sparrow in "Blink"). Also, he appears quite often in my DVD player and the depths of my unconscious. And now he's Nerd Man of the Month for October. It's almost an embarrassment of riches!

Eccleston is well-deserving of universal geek gratitude for helping Russell T. Davies bring the new "Doctor Who" to life. He may not have exhibited quite the fanboy enthusiasm others have in the role -- see "intense"and "brooding" above -- but his performance as The Doctor was simply without flaw. And let's face it, what with the farting aliens and space pigs being thrown in his path, Eccleston's "Who" burden may have been a bit heavier than his successors. He inhabited the role of The Doctor with an incredible energy and the ability to pivot seamlessly between rage, sadness, world-weariness, self-loathing, tenderness and occasionally, sheer unfettered joy. It's an incredible performance and served as the perfect way to usher in an exciting new era of "Who."

Beyond the "Who" realm, the man's just a phenomenal actor. Whether playing the son of God in Russell T. Davies' "The Second Coming" or the dastardly Duke of Norfolk in "Elizabeth" or a hate-filled modern day Iago in "Othello," the guy always gets the job done. Just watch this scene from "Jude," one of the more heartbreaking films you'll ever see, in which Eccleston's stone mason has just been rejected from a university despite his obvious intelligence and gets mocked by, of all people, a student played by David Tennant:

Eccleston possesses quite the nerd genre resume as well with turns in the hugely creepy ghost thriller "The Others," the hungry zombie flick "28 Days Later," a five-episode stint as Claude in "Heroes," and the aforementioned "G.I. Joe," which I intend to get drunk and watch at some point next week.

As with all our Nerd Man honorees, Eccleston just seems like a pleasant, hard-working guy. Even better, he's done loads of charity work for various organizations and is self-depracting enough to make fun of his admittedly unusual but still extraordinary good looks on a regular basis. So, a self-deprecating fellow who helped return "Doctor Who" to the spotlight, who shines in every role he's given and who rocks Elizabethan costuming far more effectively than any man has a right to -- what's not to love? That's why The Park Bench is pleased to name Christopher Eccleston as its Nerd Man of the Month.

Friday Odds & Ends: "Waters of Mars" date, "War of the Worlds," "Glee," "Bones" and the freakiest doll this side of Chucky

+ Two weeks (and some change) until a new Who! The official air date for the upcoming Tennant special "Waters of Mars" has been announced: Sunday, November 15 at 7 p.m. UK time on BBC One. And then airing secretly in other places roughly 45 minutes after it ends.

+ If you're trying to get into the Halloween spirit, this might help. Starting tonight at 8 p.m. EST, you can listen to a streaming broadcast of Orson Welles' classic "War of the Worlds" production -- yep, the one that terrified half the East Coast in 1938.

+ Speaking of the classics, Ridley Scott has been talking a bit more about the prequel he's doing to the "Alien" films.

+ The new trailer for season 8 of "24" has arrived...and looks shockingly like pretty much all the rest of the seasons of "24" except there's a cute little girl who no doubt will be in jeopardy roughly seven minutes after the new season starts. That's not a spoiler; just an educated and cynical guess.

+ Have you heard? SyFy has plans to create an American version of "Being Human." Here's what series creator Toby Whithouse has to say, politely, about the whole thing.

+ Need a little "Glee" to go with your World Series baseball? Then be sure to tune in when the "Glee" cast sings the National Anthem before Game Three tomorrow night. Thanks, Megan, for the tip!

+ I've always wondered about relative size when it comes to science-y things like cells and atoms. Reader Emily was kind enough to send a link to this cool Cell Size and Scale interactive graphic, which uses a zoom to show you exactly how small things relate to each other size wise. Just use the bar along the bottom and prepare to have your mind blown. (Unless you already know all this stuff; then just prepare to be reminded.)

+ FOX has confirmed that Zooey Deschanel will guest star alongside her sister Emily on "Bones" for a Dec. 10 episode called "The Goop on the Girl" which I no doubt will make the mistake of trying to watch right as I sit down to dinner.

+ And if you'd like to be both horrified and amused this Friday morning, check out Mattel's new Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken Doll. No, seriously, that's what it's called and it's real. The best part, seriously, is the little dog. Also, the fact that Ken's hair looks like a terrible toupee. Awesome!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

10 Reasons Dating a Vampire Sucks

10. They can't go outside in the daytime.
Honestly, you might as well be dating a well-dressed rock for all the daytime action you won't be enjoying with this dead weight around your neck. No days out at the art fair or trips to the ballgame. Even if you somehow get him to the beach, he'll just embarrass you with his gamy white skin before bursting into flames and taking his shame with him. And in the time it takes him to immolate, you wouldn't even be able to roast a marshmallow. Vampires even ruin beach s'mores. Jerks.

9. They don't like garlic...and now you can't either.
Remember all those fun times and delicious meals you had at your local Olive Garden? Yeah, I hope you took some pictures because those were the last bread sticks and meatballs you'll ever ingest, thanks to the big pasty loser moping next to you.

8. They're invisible in mirrors.
Vampires can't see their own reflections. That means your bloodlusty beau will be depending on you, missy, to tell him what he looks like EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY. "Do these pants make me look hippy?" "Does this cape make me look fey?" "Is my widow's peak too derivative of Grandpa Munster?" Natter, natter, natter. Trust me, you're going to wish you could stake him twice.

7. They're nocturnal.
You know how sometimes your cat spazzes out and gets all hyper in the middle of the night, running back and forth over your face and yowling until you pet it? Right there? That's your new boyfriend. He just hasn't decided to poop in a box yet.

6. Stranger in a strange land syndrome
Have you ever gone to a foreign country and met one of your countrymen out of the blue and suddenly, you two are best friends because there's no one else like you within a 50 mile radius? Count Lonelypants is going to do that too. He'll want to be friends with every other vampire he runs into. And then he'll drag them back to your place and they'll stay up all night drinking hamsters and talking about how much Transylvania's changed and how you never want to let him bite you anymore even though you guys used to bite each other like bunnies four or five times a day. Wah, wah, wah!

5. He'll relate to every vampyric pop culture reference ever made.
Want to make a joke about "Twilight?" He'll sulk for days. Casually mention that no vampire will ever be better than Spike? He'll lock himself in his casket for a week. Declare that Coppola's "Dracula" wasn't as bad as you remembered? He'll freeze you out for months. Even worse, he'll get all excited about the vampires he likes -- Count Chocula, Bram Stoker, Ann Coulter. Boring!

4. He'll be skittish around the word "stake."
No more "going Outback tonight" for you guys. The first time he hears "$9.99 for a 6 ounce steak" he's going to run like a pretty little girl, and berate you for your insensitivity. And then you'll laugh and laugh and laugh...

3. He'll be all arrogant and authoritative about vampire lore.
Could Bugs Bunny really turn that vampire into a bat by saying, "Hocus Pocus?" Would the mullets of "The Lost Boys" have been accepted within the stylist wheelhouse? Do fang whiteners really work? And how the hell do you floss overgrown incisors anyway? He'll tell you, and probably in a fancy voice.

2. One word: capes
Some of your more old school and debonair vampires likely will wear capes, better suited to sweeping departures down dark alleys and hiding stolen watches for sale after baseball games. That's all well and good, but here's your problem. Have you ever tried to hang up a cape? It's impossible! There's no shoulders or sleeves; they just slide right off the hanger. So then you just drape them over a chair right? No, because then they get wrinkled. How about hanging them over a balcony? Again with the wrinkles. You could pin them to something, but then there's holes in the fabric. You, quite literally, will spend weeks trying to figure out what to do with this goddamn cape.

1. Everyone hates a biter.
Remember in grade school when there was always some little boy named Timmy or Blake who would run up and just randomly bite people to get attention? Remember how much you hated him and tried to stuff him into the tire swing? Your buddy Count Nipalot is going to want to bite you ALL THE TIME. And sure, the first few times are fun if you're into that, but after a while, you're going to get anemic and then you're going to have to eat more spinach. So think about that: biting and spinach. What kind of life is that?

What do you think? What reasons would keep you from becoming the warmer half of a vampire couple?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: Adama, Star Trek onesies, Wolfman, Bioshock and Facebook

Thanks everyone for all of the great Nerd Man nominations yesterday. All of the suggestions were terrific and I'm putting them in my to-do file, so they'll all get their turn soon! And now on to the news of the day:

+ Would you like to have dinner with Edward James Olmos? Personally, I'm intimidated by the man just watching him on TV, but I'm sure there are bolder folks than me out there. In conjunction with the recent release of the "BSG" prequel movie, "The Plan," UGO has announced a "Dinner with the Admiral" contest. Just answer a few trivia questions and you'll be entered in the drawing. Good luck!

+ If you have a baby and would like to turn it into a nerd before it can even walk or roll over on its own, here's your chance! You can now purchase Star Trek uniform onesies. Awesome!

+ There's a new trailer out for the "Bioshock 2" game, which is absolutely one of my favorite games ever. Not to play, mind you -- I have the dexterity of a chimp with no hands -- but to watch. It actually had a compelling plot and the graphics were just gorgeous. Can't wait to watch the husband play this one!

+ What if "Harry Potter" had come out in the 1980s? This cartoonist takes a few guesses involving, among other things, Christopher Lloyd and David Bowie.

+ Doesn't this kind of creep you out? Facebook will turn accounts into memorials for deceased users. I'm not sure if I want all my Scrabulous scores and unanswered RSVPs etched in digital stone for all eternity. How do you feel about it?

+ Want to see Benicio del Toro get all shaggy and Anthony Hopkins nibble on scenery? Then check out the new trailer for "The Wolfman" over at Apple. Looks pretty...but it also looks like something I've seen a hundred times before. It puts me in a mind to howl, though, and that's always fun. Join me, won't you? A-woooooo!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: Captain Mal, colliding galaxies, T. rex arms, video games and Nerd Man nominations

+ How great was the return of Captain Mal last night on "Castle?" If you didn't get a chance to see it, had the clip, which I'm posting below:

+ Hulu has the first 9 minutes of "V" available for viewing. I haven't had a chance to watch it myself yet but I've heard slightly tepid things about it. Let me know what you think.

+ The "Star Trek" media empire is ready to conquer another genre: the live stage show. Designed for theme parks and performance centers, the show will take audience members on the interactive journey through space with Kirk and Spock.

+ Here's some good news: apparently "Arrested Development" creator Mitchell Hurwitz is in the process of writing a script for the AD movie that everyone's been hoping for and talking about for so long. Can't wait to see Will Arnett on a Segway again!

+ Check out this terrific PSA that Felicia Day did for NASA about colliding galaxies. It's really...funny! Who knew NASA had it in them?

+ This item is pretty much for my husband who calls me "T. rex arms" when I stand with my hands a certain way -- I would like for him to read this article here that clearly states that although T. rex's had tiny arms in comparison to the rest of their ginormous bodies, those tiny arms could still curl roughly 430 pounds and rip a human arm out of its socket. Yeah!

+ Which segues naturally into this next item on how playing video games together can be good couples therapy. I believe that statement to be 100 percent true.

+ If you enjoy a little nerdy humor with your Bible study, check out Park Bench reader Adam's videos. He does a nice job injecting some levity into the Good Book and manages to name-check Buffy and Erasmus within five minutes of each other. If my priest had done that, I probably wouldn't be the card-carrying fearful agnostic I am today. There went my soul, all for want of a pop culture reference...

+ And finally, if you'd like a double dose of Nerd Men of the Month goodness, check out this interview with Joss Whedon conducted by Ira Glass -- two past winners together at last! The interview took place in support of 826NYC and their creative writing programs for kids; a very worthy cause indeed! Thank you, Austen, for sending the link!

Speaking of Nerd Men, as you can tell, the month of October is drawing to a close and I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm in need of some Nerd Man nominations. Any ideas?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Odds & Ends: Tennant, Dollhouse, tauntauns

Just a super-short update this morning, I'm afraid. More newsy goodness on Monday. Have a great weekend!

+ Ladies, if you have your bibs handy, you might want to check out this new series of interviews with David Tennant conducted by PBS for his upcoming stint as host of "Masterpiece Contemporary." He talks about acting, his career, "Doctor Who" and uses the word "simulacrum" in every day conversation.

+ "Dollhouse" is going bye-bye for the month of November, while FOX tries to boast its ratings by showing, uh, re-runs of other shows. Whatever. Anyway, "Dollhouse" will be back in December with new episodes.

+ Here's a tasty treat for any social gathering: an eviscerated tauntaun cake, complete with sleepy-from-hypothermia Luke Skywalker. It's the frosting entrails that really make it art.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Google Wave: What the Hell Is It?

For weeks now, I've been hearing people talk about Google Wave yet I have no idea what it is or what it does or what it's for. And I can't seem to muster enough enthusiasm to find out. So I've decided to remain ignorant on the matter for as long as possible and instead offer up my guesses as to what Google Wave might be. I've devised several possibilities:

1) It's a device that will be implanted in sports fans -- by invitation only -- and provide an electric shock to let those fans know when it's time to stand up, cheer and throw their arms in the air at sporting events. The shock will be mild enough to not cause fire or loss of bladder control, but strong enough to remind people that sports teams aren't paid to just sit around and cheer for themselves.

2) It's a mechanism that will enable actual live cats to wave like a Japanese lucky cat, i.e., like this:

With this one, I predict trouble and assume that after a short period of time, the cats will rebel and "lucky cat" will become synonymous with murderous, rampaging felines hellbent on restoring their former dignity and asserting themselves over humanity, mostly by vomiting binary hairballs.

3) Google Wave may also be the search engine giant's attempt at bringing back the classic hairstyle of the 1960s, beloved by playful gentlemen such as this fellow, who was once beaten mercilessly by Don Draper for even bothering to grow facial hair when obviously his only intention was to mistreat it. True fact: despite the pummeling, the wave never moved.

4) Perhaps the Wave is a carnival ride, designed to spin children in thrilling and entertaining ways before some carny forgets to lock the gate and all hell breaks loose and before you know it, Ralph Nader's all over Google's back about safety issues and Google's like, "yeah, whatever, if your seat belts had worked, Timmy wouldn't be in that tree right now" and Ralph Nader's like, "Yeah, that's what your mom said," and Google's all confused and eventually the two sides just lose interest and Timmy has to stay in the tree until a kitten climbs up there and the fire department decides to rescue both of them. Yay, happy ending!

5) Fingers crossed, but I'm really hoping that Google Wave is what we've all decided to call New New Wave music, meaning synthesizers and eye liner for men is on it's way back, baby! Return to me, Flock of Seagulls and Wang Chung! Let us dance as the wind blows through your ruffled shirts and then stops dead at the gates of your over-moussed hair. New New Wave music would be the greatest gift Google ever gave me besides the image search that gave me that one picture of David Tennant in a kilt.

6) Is it simply one of these, and this is Google's way of telling me they finally own everything on the face of the Earth, including nature and the wave that made Keanu Reeves look awesome in "Point Break?"

Whatever Google Wave turns out to be, I just hope it's not some lame-ass application meant to streamline my work and home life. I already have one of those. It's called a piece of paper and a pencil. Now bring me New New Wave!

Thursday Odds & Ends: Tintin, cow abductions, Sackhoff, Cleese and the mighty pens of Frost, Pegg and Wright, if you know what I mean

+ Hot on the heels of Wil Wheaton's appearance Monday night, "Big Bang Theory" continues to rack up the cool, geek guest stars. "Battlestar" alumna Katee Sackhoff will appear as herself in a cameo on the show's Nov. 23 episode.

+ I present to you, the most awesome home furnishing ever invented: the alien cow abduction lamp. Oh, it is mighty and grand...and limited edition so buy now.

+ What does it take to break the Guinness World record for watching video games? Yoga, an ability to digest dates and 40 spare hours to kill. Yeah, this guy played "Grand Theft Auto IV" for 40 straight hours and didn't even take half the breaks Guinness afforded him as part of its rules. Wow. I don't know if that's sad or impressive. Probably a little of both.

+ So, how do "Hot Fuzz" creators Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost entertain themselves on a Wednesday afternoon? They take to Twitter and write slash fiction stories about their characters, of course. Honestly, it's hilarious and completely immature and Edgar Wright was kind enough to compile the entire conversation on his website. I'm so glad I found his recap because at one point yesterday, I recall stumbled in halfway through the conversation apparently, with odd mentions of cudgels and Pringle's cans from Pegg and Frost. I just figured it was a normal day's chat.

+ If you want a closer look at Nathan Fillion's upcoming Halloween costume on "Castle," this preview is worth checking out. Also, vampires and a Buffy namecheck!

+ Sci-Fi Wire has some new tidbits on the upcoming "Tintin" movie, which is being produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Steven Spielberg from a script that includes contributions from "Doctor Who"'s Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright, slash fiction auteur mentioned above...okay, a co-creator of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz."

+ Rolling Stone has a nifty interview with John Cleese, mostly about the recent DVD release of "Fawlty Towers" but also a bit about Python.

+ And finally, Scientific American has an excerpt from a new book chronicling the life of Mary Anning, who unearthed scores and scores of dinosaur bones in the 19th century when people were still scratching their heads and trying to figure out what these things were. Many credit here with being one of the world's first paleontologists, if not the first. Well done, Mary!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In This Nerd's Opinion: The 11 Best Monty Python Bits

IFC's spectacular six-part documentary on Monty Python has gotten me into the Python spirit all over again. (Thanks, IFC!) As a result, here are my top 11 favorite Python moments, in no particular order.

Upper Class Twit of the Year
Absolutely hysterical. From the door slamming bit to the removal of the debutantes' bras to the not-so-surprisingly difficult leap over the wall made of match box, this is pure gold.

What Have the Romans Done For Us? from Monty Python's Life of Brian
As a former classics major with a thing for Romans, this bit cracks me up every time.

Four Yorkshireman from Live at the Hollywood Bowl
For anyone who's ever sat through a particularly appalling pity party, consider yourself lucky it wasn't this one, where four Yorkshiremen recount their poverty-stricken childhoods living in boxes, lakes and, well, whatever was handy really.

French Taunter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
An oldie but a goodie -- and perhaps every geek child's favorite inspiration for insouciant insults.

Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Oh, the vagaries of rabbit rage! Who knows why rabbits attack? I'm just grateful they do in this wonderful scene where King Arthur's knights don't quite take this fearsome bunny seriously -- "What's he do? Nibble your bum?" -- with rather dire consequences.

Little Red Riding Hood from Live at the Hollywood Bowl
While the stoutly masculine casting for Little Red Riding Hood is a hoot, it's really the Wolf that makes this one work.

The Parrot Sketch
What can I say about this sketch? It's just perfect -- a brilliant mix of rage on Cleese's part and absurdist excuse making from Palin. This one's a classic for a reason.

Argument Clinic
There's nothing particularly spectacular about this one -- it's just silly and it works.

I Want to Be A Woman from Monty Python's Life of Brian
Stan wants to be called Loretta from now on...oh, and he wants to have babies, even if they will have to gestate in a box.

Exploding Penguin
This is one of my all-time, absolute favorite sketches for one very simple reason: the way Graham Chapman shouts "Burma!" That and "Intercourse the penguin!" reduces me to a giggling mess every time I see it.

Fish Slapping Dance
Not only is this bit my favorite Monty Python moment, it's also potentially one of my very favorite bits of comedy ever devised. It's so simple, so ridiculous and just wordlessly perfect.

So there's my 11 cents. What are your favorite Python bits?

Wednesday Odds & Ends: The Nook, X-Files, Glee, Castle, Weather Channel and slacking off

Sorry about yesterday: I had to cancel Tuesday due to basement sewage issues, getting vomited on by a cat and a headache that felt as though a team of Clydesdales was kicking its way to freedom from my cranium. So let's move on to Wednesday, shall we?

+ Have you seen Barnes and Noble's sleek new Kindle competitor called The Nook? (Smaller models, I assume, will be called Nookie?) It's got a cool sharing capability so you can still swap books with your friends. And it's available at a relatively reasonable price of $260. Saucy!

+ David Duchovny would like to see a third "X-Files" movie but hopes it will focus on the alien conspiracy rather than a monster of the week tale. In related news, I saw "Californication" for the first time last night and really enjoyed it. Duchovny should do comedy all the time.

+ Joss Whedon will be directing an upcoming episode of "Glee," the Fox musical series.

+ In other very good TV news, ABC has picked up "Castle" for a full season. More Nathan, more happy.

+ Wil Wheaton writes eloquently, as always, about his guest appearance on "The Big Bang Theory" this past Monday.

+ In the category of "sure, why the hell not?" comes this news of The Weather Channel adding a movie night to their lineup. Called "The Weather Channel Presents...," the network will air a tenuously weather-related movie each week beginning October 30 with "The Perfect Storm" followed by "March of the Penguins" and "Misery"...because there was a snow storm in that one that I barely recall but sure, why the hell not?

+ You know how sometimes you're just sitting at work and you start staring into space and then 20 minutes later, you realize you're slack-jawed, drooling and thinking about Wookiees? Apparently, science says that may be a good thing. I suggest you print the article out and tape it to yourself the next time the boss gets snippy. "I'm being creative, my good man! Leave me be!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Odds & Ends: Pushing Daisies, V, Neil Patrick Harris, Halloween and build a critter

+ I have no idea how I missed this before, but did you know that "Pushing Daisies" is living on in a 12-part series of comic books for DC Comics?

+ The other night I saw Neil Patrick Harris in a very old, very bad episode of "The Outer Limits" where he got to shoot an evil alien worm out of his nose. Barney would have been appalled. In other news, NPH will be doing a musical turn as a Gotham City villain in an upcoming episode of "Batman: The Brave and the Bold."

+ If you see a giant "V" in the skies next Friday, don't freak out -- it's just ABC's way of promoting the new "V" miniseries. The network has hired skywriters to write "V"s in the skies over some of the country's most popular national monuments. Cooler than a billboard, I guess.

+ Want to plan your Halloween-themed TV viewing? TV Tango has a list of upcoming Halloween programming including TWO showings of "The Great Pumpkin." Woo!

+ Early reviews are coming in for "Amelia," which opens this Friday, and they're pretty good for the most part. Really looking forward to seeing this...right after I see "Where the Wild Things Are."

+ So, io9 had this fake post about a genetically-engineered cat with radar dishes for ears. And it got me thinking, if you could play Frankenstein and use, say, five characteristics from any other creature -- living, dead or fictional -- out there, what would you build? I've been thinking about this...a lot...and I've decided I'd create the following:

A capybara with Ultraman's flying abilities, Henry Kissinger's speaking voice, roller skates on its paws and Sherlock Holme's powers of deduction. He would be the world's most lovable detective, and that would be my contribution to science.

What would you build?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Oods & Ands: a Simpsons character of your own, awesome Nathan, cylons on CBS and candy!

+ Now's your chance to put those TV watching skills to good use! FOX has launched a new contest inviting fans to create a new "Simpsons" character who will appear on the show. More details will hopefully be available soon at website, although there's nothing there right now that I could find. Then again, I am very old and bright colors scare me so I may have missed it.

+ In other generally awesome news, if you haven't seen Nathan Fillion's Halloween costume yet for "Castle," check out this link. Some may consider it a spoiler (like my husband did) but I just think it's cute. Nathan surely knows how to please his fans. (Thanks, AJ, for the link!)

+ Even former Cylons need paychecks: BSG's Tricia Helfer will be guest starring on the greatest comedy ever produced by humankind! That's right -- "Two and a Half Men." Oh, Tricia.

+ Did you know that Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew has written a sequel to "Dracula?" Neither did I. It's called "The Un-Dead" and picks up 25 years after the original novel's ending. USA Today seems to think it's pretty good. Then again, they sometimes have an entire section devoted to NASCAR so...

+ With Halloween on the horizon, here's a list of the 10 Best Halloween Candies of All-Time. (Thanks to my pal Mary for the link!) I've gotta agree with their choice of Hershey's Krackel at number one. What do you think? What's your favorite Halloween treat?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Odds & Ends: Greatest American Hero, vampires, Monty Python, Latin phrases and your brain on books

+ More good news for Douglas Adams' fans: it sounds like the BBC is creating a TV dramedy based on the author's Dirk Gently detective novels. I'm still catching up on the whole "Hitchhiker's Guide" thing, so I've no idea if this is a "wahoo!" moment or an "eh" moment, but here it is nonetheless!

+ Apparently, Nathan Fillion would like to revive the 1980s classic TV series, "The Greatest American Hero." Which, for all my bitching and moaning about the lack of original ideas out there, is one thing I would absolutely love to see someday. I adored that show as a kid and I adore looking at Nathan Fillion as an adult, so it's a win-win, right?

+ Would you like to participate in the democratic process today? Then why not vote on vampires? The Paley Center is running a poll on favorite TV vampires. So far, Spike is running away with it but it looks like those "True Blood" boys could make up some (unhallowed) ground.

+ I kind of love this list on "10 Latin Phrases You Pretend to Understand" because I pretend to understand words I don't understand all the time. (What?)

+ The New York Times has an interesting debate on how the brain responds to e-books, with scientists and academics chiming in with their opinions.

+ Tonight marks the beginning of festivities celebrating the 40th anniversary of Monty Python. All of the remaining Pythons will be gathering in New York's Ziegfeld Theatre this evening for a restrospective, which you can watch live online here. And then on Sunday, ICF launches part one of its six-part documentary, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth," beginning at 9 p.m. EST.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: Jack Ryan, Toy Story 3, Star Wars meets 30 Rock and a cute slow loris

+ Captain Kirk 2.0 himself is apparently in talks to revamp another classic character. Yep, Chris Pine may take on the role of Tom Clancy's CIA analyst Jack Ryan, previously played with saucy aplomb by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. I know I'd tune in.

+ Pixar has released their trailer for "Toy Story 3" which is due out in theaters next June. I will admit I got a bit nostalgic seeing Buzz and Woody again. Here it is for your viewing pleasure, via Cinemablend. You also can see it in HD over at the Apple site.

+ Gandalf aka Ian McKellen got chatty recently with Empire Magazine, sharing details on the upcoming "Hobbit" film as well as a few nuggets on "X-Men."

+ The creator of "Gilmore Girls," Amy Sherman-Palladino, has a new deal with HBO to do a series about "three adult sisters, all writers sharing the same upper east side apartment building, and their mother, a domineering literary lioness who reserves most of her affections for their ne'er-do-well brother." It sounds a bit like a modern Bronte family. Given how much love was shown for literature and the written word on "Gilmore Girls," this is a series I'll definitely try.

+ This list of the Top 10 Funniest "X-Files" Episodes had me digging through my DVD collection yesterday. I have to say, though, I'm shocked "War of the Coprophages" didn't make the list.

+ If you're feeling in the encylopedic mood and want to celebrate the return of Liz Lemon tomorrow night, check out TheForce.Net's list of each and every "Star Wars" reference in "30 Rock." I knew there were a lot but wow, that list is long!

+ And finally, here's a video that amused me greatly yesterday: a creature called a slow loris getting tickled and scratched...and loving every second of it. No, it doesn't take a lot to entertain me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: "Star Trek," Hitchhikers and "Good Eats"

It's a bit of a slow nerdy news day, but we do have a few highlights:

+ Looking for a good laugh? Check out the "Star Trek XI" gag reel that's been circulating. Zachary Quinto is quite adorable...and does a hilarious Scottish accent. Or was it Irish? Dutch maybe?

+ This week marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." And a new book, touted as the sixth installment in the series, has been released to mark the occasion. It's written by Eoin Colfer, the author of the Artemis Fowl series.

+ There's a new trailer out for "The Sarah Jane Adventures," featuring a few snippets of David Tennant's upcoming appearances. Sadly, there are also Slitheen, which just make me want to cry. Dumbest aliens ever created...

+ In the "well, that's nice of them" category, Fox has announced that it will air all 13 episodes of "Dollhouse" this season, mostly based on the show's decent DVR numbers.

+ NPR has a story on food wizard Alton Brown and ten years of his show "Good Eats," an occasion Brown is marking with the release of a new book on the series.

News flash: help write a Gaiman short story

Running a bit behind on today's Odds & Ends, but I wanted to make sure you knew about the Neil Gaiman short story writing experiment today, starting at noon EST on Twitter. In collaboration with BBC Audiobooks America, Gaiman is offering 1,000 fans the chance to write a sentence each of a new story that will be recorded by BBC Audiobooks upon completion and offered for free download. Gaiman will pen the first line followed by everyone else with their 140-character or less contribution.

To participate, you must follow @BBCAA and tweet with the hashtag #bbcawdio. Official rules and disclaimers are at the BBC Audiobooks blog.

The whole thing seems like it'll be utter chaos but probably a lot of fun. Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Cabin in the Woods" delayed for no good reason at all; or why I hate 3-D

Late last week, it was announced that the release of Joss Whedon's highly-anticipated horror flick, "Cabin in the Woods," would be delayed an entire year. Originally scheduled for February 5, 2010, the film now won't hit theaters until Jan. 14, 2011. Why? Because early response to the film has been so good, MGM has decided to make it even better by making it 3-D.

Sweet fancy Moses, this just makes me cranky. Not only because now I have to wait a whole damn year, but more importantly, because no movie has ever been made better for being rendered in 3-D. Sure, it's kind of a cool effect and when it works properly, it's mildly intriguing to go, "Oooh, it's like Harry Potter's pointing his wand right at me!" and then giggling for a few minutes because it sounds dirty but that's it. There is no other redeeming feature about 3-D at all.

If I want my entertainment in three-dimensions, I'll go to a little something called a theatre where there are actors on this other thing called a stage. (Sometimes, there's even what's known as a thrust stage where the stage extends into the audience and it's almost like the stage is coming right at me!!) Also, all of the people in the story have been rendered by God or Darwin or plastic surgeons into actual three-dimensional beings that move and talk. It's very realistic.

Now, just to avoid problems in the future, I'd like to ask the entertainment industry to please refrain from making or re-making the following films and/or TV shows in 3-D:

Citizen Kane
Any Fellini film, because who needs nightmares like that for the rest of their lives?
Jimmy Durante movies
Gerard Depardieu movies
Anything with sword fighting
Anything with cannons or large rockets, speaking of which:
Apollo 11
Boogie Nights

Oh, and I too late on that one?

In short, I don't want to have to wait a year to see "Cabin in the Woods" and I really hate 3-D.

What do you think? Are you a fan of that third dimension?

Monday Odds & Ends: "Chuck," Nimoy, literati for sale, Tennant, Pegg, and oh yes, Miley

+ Great news for fans of "Chuck!" Because NBC's fall schedule is already quietly imploding, the network may be bringing "Chuck" back earlier than expected. Originally, new episodes were set to air in March. Now, the show might come back as early as the end of this month.

+ Interested in finding out what the wizened elder statesmen of sci-fi thinks about his role on "Fringe?" Then check out this interview with Leonard Nimoy on his character William Bell and how generally awesome he thinks J.J. Abrams is.

+ You know how sometimes the cost of shoes in the Nieman Marcus catalog can make you cry? It's nothing compared to the price tag on this truly rare and unusual gift: a $200,000 dinner for you and a guest with "eight of the brightest minds of modern literature, journalism and the arts." Yes, you can buy dinner with such literary luminaries as Christopher Buckley, Malcolm Gladwell, Nora and Delia Ephron and George Stephanopolous. Never fear, though, the writers aren't selling out. They're doing it for charity. Still, though, I bet I could get a foot rub from Stephanopolous for another $100 in cash.

+ I've never been able to get excited about "X-Men" but I'm sure a lot of folks will be happy with this news: Bryan Singer might return to direct the next "X-Men" installment.

+ Daniel Radcliffe is doing a reading of the musical "How to Succeed in Business" in New York with the idea that the show might be relaunched sometime soon.

+ Let's all sit down a moment for this one: David Tennant is rumored to be starring in a new film with...Simon Pegg -- and yes, that's where I hiccuped in joy. Called "Burke and Hare," it's directed by John Landis and described as a period comedy about, of all things, 19th century graverobbers in Edinburgh.

+ And in perhaps the best handling of any Chris Carter project to date, there's a rumor that Fox is planning to adapt Carter's other semi-successful show "Millennium"...without him. But with creepy Lance Henrickson, so I see this as a win-win for everyone!

+ Oh, and here's that video of Miley Cyrus "rapping" her farewell to Twitter. Why, you ask, would I post this? Mostly because she rhymes "people" with "pimple" but also because it's Monday, I'm unemployed and sometimes laughing at dumb children is the only thing that makes my day feel special. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Fringe," you've won me back, and I promise never to leave you again!

Rarely does a television viewer's patience get rewarded. More often than not, shows that start out weak end up weak. And a lot of times, shows that start out great take a nosedive by the end of the season. But sometimes, there's that rare show that falls down at the beginning, takes a moment to get up and dust itself off and then never looks back. "Fringe" is one of those shows, and this season, it's quickly become the one series I look forward to more than any other.

When "Fringe" debuted last fall, I eagerly tuned in because, hey, a new J.J. Abrams production. While the show had some intriguing ideas, a good cast and some nifty effects, it lacked heart and it lacked drive. It was like getting a beautifully wrapped gift and finding nothing inside. So I stopped watching about halfway through the season.

Just recently, the husband and I decided to try again, and we quickly Netflixed our way through the rest of season one. It was difficult not to be thoroughly impressed with just how good "Fringe" got by the end of that first year. Our heroine Olivia became interesting! From the beginning, I'd felt that the Olivia character was the weak link in the show. Such a stiff, she had nothing to do but get creeped out by the ghostly memories of her dead boyfriend. Granted, adding a sister and a niece didn't really do the trick either, but putting her front and center in the series' grand mystery and tying her more closely to the dark pasts of mad scientist Walter and his son Peter finally made the show take off. It's amazing what having an active protagonist can do!

And oh boy, did the show ever flesh out the Walter character. John Noble is, hands down, the main reason to watch "Fringe." His portrayal of Walter is so charming and so heartbreakingly...well...delicate, you can't help but be moved. And yes, I may have sniffled when Olivia gave him a smackdown at the end of season one -- sure, it was deserved but Walter can't help what he's done!

It's taken until the new season for Joshua Jackson's Peter character to really take off. Finally, he seems to be more of an active participant rather than just a snarky tag-along who looks really good in sweaters. I'm very much looking forward to finding out how a rather large discovery last season plays out for his character.

All of the peripheral characters are beginning to shine as well from Astrid, who's quickly becoming Walter's best friend and not just his reluctant caretaker, to Broyles, Olivia's FBI chief who definitely seems to have some sort of juicy past...yet who still scares me because he's played by Lance Reddick, who was so effectively creepy on "Lost."

And best of all, I love the fact that this show has embraced its "X-Files"-y nature. The little nods to the series this year shows me that "Fringe" has stopped trying to pretend it's not a rip-off (in the best possible way) of "X-Files" and instead just seems focused on avoiding all the mistakes that led to its predecessors downfall. For a show that just keeps getting better and better, I think there's a very good chance it'll do just that.

How about you? Are you enjoying the new season so far?

Thursday Odds & Ends: Nobels, vooks, Tudyks, Phantoms and origami

+ The Nobel Prize for Literature was announced today, and yet again I was shut out, apparently disqualified for not actually having written a "book" of any kind. Luckily, the Swedes had a back-up author handy and awarded the prize to Herta Mueller, a Romanian-born German writer. Her win prompted what I find to be a hilarious headline from Entertainment Weekly: "Another obscure Nobel Prize literature winner! Sigh." I know, I can't believe J.K. Rowling and Nora Roberts were shut out again this year either. Damn it!

+ While we're on the subject of books and such, have you guys heard of a Vook? It's a book that incorporates video into the narrative. So if you're reading "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" on your Kindle or iTouch, you might see Quasimodo pop up on your screen and wave seductively at you. Or something like that. As the reviewer mentions in the linked article, you can see how this might work well in a non-fiction or how-to book, but it seems really weird and unnecessary to me for fiction. Don't you think?

+ Time Out London has a nifty list of the 50 Greatest Animated Films, compiled with help from director and former Monty Python animator Terry you know the list will probably be very odd and go on for at least 10 films longer than it should. (I say that with love, of course. "Brazil" is one of my favorite movies.)

+ Speaking of Pythons, have you ever wanted to see Alan Tudyk doing a Monty Python sketch in drag? Of course you have! And now's your chance because he's starring in a show called "An Evening Without Monty Python" at the Town Hall in New York. I think the purse goes quite well with his eyes.

+ And while I was reading about Tudyk and Python and Broadway, oh my, I also stumbled upon this little newsy nugget: an "Addams Family" musical starring Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane is opening in March on Broadway. It could be fun -- although to me, no one will ever top Raul Julia as Gomez Addams. He was dreamy in those movies.

+ Okay, I seem to have turned into a theatre obsessive this morning, but I promise this is my last piece of news about the Great White Way or Shark or whatever it's called. I had no idea this was happening, but apparently, there's a "Phantom of the Opera" sequel set to debut in London on March 9, 2010. It's called "Love Never Dies," it takes place after the events of "Phantom" and I swear this is what the article says, it "continues the story of the obsessive Phantom, who has moved from the Paris Opera House to haunt the fairgrounds of New York's Coney Island." Somewhere, Gaston Leroux is triple-lutzing in his coffin. I don't think I'll be seeing this show unless it stars a pantsless John Barrowman and even then, well...okay, I'd be pretty interested in seeing that.

+ In other ridiculous news, Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody has decided to further tank his career by signing on to star in the new series of "Predator" movies, produced by Robert Rodriguez. Oh man, as if "King Kong" wasn't bad enough...

+ Check out this trailer for a documentary called "Between the Folds" which profiles 10 artists and scientists who have devoted their lives to origami. Really some gorgeous work...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: embarrassed pets, Edgar Allan Poe, sad crafts and Doctor Who

Wednesday? How did it get to be Wednesday? What the hell happened to Tuesday? Anyway, despite my chronological confusion, let's carry on with today's news...a lot of which involves yesterday's news.

+ First, let's start with the cheerfully disturbing: Sci-Fi Wire's 20 Great Costumes To Dress Up Your Pet. These are great, especially the pug one which looks both horribly wrong and yet totally right.

I love how pissed off the cat looks and then the poor mummy dog is just like, "Whatever. I choose to place my mind somewhere else."

+ The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, VA is planning a recreation of Poe's funeral for fans and visitors. According to the AP article, "Poe's cousin Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly, and 'fewer than ten' people attended the 'hasty funeral.' A train and derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard, shattering Poe's tombstone before it could be installed at his grave. Poe's enemy, Rufus Griswold, wrote him a 'libellous obituary' that damaged his reputation for decades." Poe should have known never to let a Griswold do his obituary -- did he never see the "Vacation" movies? Anyway, now Poe's getting a 200 year old do-over, complete with state-of-the-art replica body.

+ "Doctor Who" has gotten a new logo, just in time for the new season to start in 2010. Check out the video unveiling below and let me know your thoughts on the new look. Personally, I kind of like it, especially the way the TARDIS is represented:

+ USA Today's Pop Candy has an interview with Felicia Day, who is getting more popular by the second. Good for her!

+ And Popular Mechanics has a nifty Q&A with Adam and Jamie from "Mythbusters."

+ And finally, here's an awesome new site called Regretsy that chronicles the worst in handmade arts and crafts. You have to admit, though, the pink leopard goat coat is pretty awesome.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Odds & Ends: zombies, 2012, Darth Vader in a clown car, Legos and Stephen King

+ So it looks like "Zombieland" ruled the cinematic roost this past weekend...and to mark the occasion, here's a (spoiler-filled) interview with Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. I didn't get a chance to see it but I heard good things. Did any of you check it out? What did you think?

+ Hey, here's a five-minute trailer for Roland Emmerich's "2012." I like the part where this blogger talks about how the next trailer should show character development so audiences won't think this is just a piece of CGI candy. Of course it's just a piece of CGI candy! That's the ugly beauty of any good Emmerich movie. He's our generation's Irwin Allen...and God knows, "Poseidon Adventure" could have used way less character development. (I'm looking at you, Ernest Borgnine's cop and his prostitute wife.)

+ This past weekend, Darth Vader was rescued by R2-D2's car. No, seriously.

+ Looking for some scary reading? Let me send you my bank statement! Ha, ha, no...I jest. Let's try that again. Looking for some scary reading? Here's a list of the 10 most frightening Stephen King novel. "Pet Sematary" lands at the top of my list simply for the way cemetary is spelled. Oh well, no one ever said undead animals could spell. P.S. My scariest King novel was "The Stand." Couldn't finish it. What about you?

+ In sad news today, James May's Lego House couldn't be saved and has been dismantled. The one silver lining? The millions of bricks used to build it will go to Legoland where they'll be used in their annual build competitions in support of autism research. Thanks, Emily, for the link.

+ USA Today has a nifty interview with cartoonist Berke Breathed, marking the 30th anniversary of my favorite comic strip of all time, "Bloom County." I still miss you, Bill the Cat!

+ You know how awesome watching TV is? You know what would make it even more awesome? A magic wand that could change your channels. And a clone of Rupert Grint to bring you snacks. That latter bit is still a ways off though.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Odds & Ends: the Ig Nobels, Stargate Universe, Winnie the Pooh and camouflaged artists

+ The 2009 Ig Nobel prizes were awarded at Harvard last night. Awards are given to scientific research that "first makes people laugh and then makes them think." The photo below shows the Public Health prize winner demonstrating her invention: a bra that can be converted into a pair of gas masks in the event of an emergency. Two Nobel laureates are gamely giving her a hand.

If you live near MIT, by the way, most of the Ig Nobel winners will be giving free lectures on their projects tomorrow (Saturday) during the afternoon.

+ Did you know that a sequel to the classic Winnie the Pooh stories is being released on Monday? It's called Return to the Hundred Acre Woods and it will introduce a new character, Lottie the Otter, who is very fickle about etiquette and loves cricket. Check out the article because it refers to "the trustees of Pooh Properties," which I've decided is something I'd very much like to be. Imagine going to cocktail parties. "What do you do?" "Oh, I'm a trustee of Pooh Properties. Here's my card." And then there's a little Eeyore on your card, giving a baleful look down at your phone number, which is tattooed on his tail. I've given this a lot of thought obviously...

+ Set those DVRs or reserve your space on the couch: SyFy is trotting out "Stargate Universe" tonight at 9 p.m. EST. It's got Robert Carlyle, which is reason enough to watch, but it also appears to have the plot of "Battlestar Galactica" sans robots, which is also reason enough to watch.

+ I saw this on someone's Twitter feed and now I've completely missplaced whose it was. So my apologies in advance for pilfering this uncredited from you! Anyway, check out these amazing photos of this man who paints himself to blend into his surroundings. I'm having trouble posting a sample image so you'll have to trust me on this one: they're pretty damn cool.

+ Den of Geek has an interview with Harold Ramis on "Ghostbusters 3" which, yes, I will watch. I'm still the only person in the world who laughed at the hairless cat joke in "Ghostbusters 2" so I think I'm their prime audience.

+ And finally, Warner Brothers is apparently developing a stage musical of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I officially nominate Carol Channing to play Willy Wonka in the style of Johnny Depp. How meta would that be?