Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Signing off for the holidays!

Just wanted to wish each and every one of you all the best for the holidays, and here's hoping your 2010 is spectacular. Thank you so much for visiting this blog and for sharing all your wonderful (and hilarious) comments with me. They pretty much make my day. You guys are the very best!

I'll start posting again after the New Year. In the meantime, have a great end of 2009!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Odds & Ends: Sir Patrick, "Chuck" marathon, the first Christmas card and Jack Bauer

+ At least he's already used to being called Sir. Patrick Stewart, he of the sexy cranium and purr-worthy voice, is reportedly on the list to be knighted. A well-deserved honor indeed!

+ With "Chuck" returning for its third season on NBC starting January 10, SyFy is offering up an eight-hour "Chuck" marathon to get you back in the spying mood. The marathon starts on January 7 and runs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

+ Want to impress your office mates at this year's Christmas party? Here's some arcane trivia on the very first Christmas card ever sent. All the best inventions are born out of laziness, aren't they?

+ Did everyone watch "The Waters of Mars" on BBC America this past Saturday? Did you love it? Find out if it made "Who" (re-)creator Russell T. Davies' list of favorite Doctor Who moments. It's a great list. You can tell Rusty enjoys himself!

+ If you haven't seen it already, the folks at Rebel Christmas Card have imagined what would happen if "24"'s Jack Bauer interrogated Santa Claus. I'm all for anything that makes fun of Jack Bauer, so enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I'll Miss About Tennant's Perfect Ten

When David Tennant's final "Doctor Who" episode airs in the UK on New Year's Day and in the US the day after, I along with millions of other viewers will be curled up in a ball on the sofa, weeping with as much dignity as I can muster while maturely trying to tell myself, "We were lucky to have him as long as we did."

As the end draws near, I've been trying to think of what I'll miss most about Tennant's portrayal of the Tenth Doctor, and I think I've narrowed it down to this: everything. I'll miss everything about it. But here are a few things I'll miss most:

That frenetic mad man energy
Watching Tennant's Doctor was, at times, like watching an extremely bouncy ball ricochet off around in an extremely small box. I got tired sometimes just watching it. Tennant displayed boundless energy, playing a man who never, ever wanted to slow down. Sure, that hyperactivity rankled some viewers, but I loved it. It made me want to bounce right along with him. (But I didn't. Women my age should rarely, if ever, bounce.)

The sincerity
If David Tennant put on his sincere face and tried to sell me a bridge to the Moon, I would hand him my checkbook without hesitation. The man's performances were always 100 percent sincere by which I mean, he looked like he believed every single thing his character said. We've all seen actors who look embarrassed to be uttering the words they're given - *cough*cast of Star Trek Voyager*cough* - but Tennant's utter sincerity helped sell even the most outrageous plot points and rhino-headed aliens.

That face
Beyond the very good looks, Tennant has a face that does more in silence than it does with words. You could always see the Doctor's rage or mirth or fear bubbling up in Tennant's eyes well before any words of dialogue were spoken. Just watch "Midnight" when the Doctor is paralyzed and speechless or sniffle your way through the end of "Doomsday" when he stands silently at the wall where Rose disappeared, and you'll see what I mean. Also, he can do fearsome things with an eyebrow raise. I'm just saying, if there were an Olympic competition for eyebrow raising, he would be Michael Phelps.

The hair
Oh, that hair. It should have its own spin-off, that hair. I don't even know what to say about it except that it achieved spectacular heights and I shall miss wondering what the hell it will look like next. It was my favorite gel-slathered mystery of all...which sounds entirely more dirty than I meant it.

The fan-boy enthusiasm
The beautiful thing about David Tennant is that he's the biggest "Who" nerd of them all, and he's not ashamed to show it. (Well, maybe a little bit.) Knowing that the actor playing the part is an even bigger fan than half the audience gives the show and everything around it an added dimension of fun. Besides, who doesn't get a kick out of seeing Tennant pull some obscure fact about Davros out of the air and then thinking to yourself, "Phew, at least I'm not that much of a geek." Aaand then the doorbell rings, the mailman delivers your life-sized Dalek and your geek cover's blown all over again.

The end of the Russell T. Davies era
I know a lot of people moan about RTD and "ooh, there's too much romance" and "ooh, the Doctor's too sad" but without Davies, there would be no New Who to complain about and obsess over. Personally, I love his stories and think he's a wonderful writer who resurrected a timeless (no pun intended) character and gave him new life. With Tennant's departure comes Davies' departure, and I'll miss them both.

How about you? What will you miss most when Tennant departs?

Thursday Odds & Ends: Iron Man 2, Colbert, Doctor Who, Spock monkey and puppets

+ WOW! The new "Iron Man 2" trailer is out and all I can say is, "I want to see this now, please!" Check it out and let me know what you think.

+ Former Nerd Man of the Month Stephen Colbert was on the cover of "Sports Illustrated" this week. The SI site has outtakes from his photo shoot. As you probably know, Colbert's show will be sponsoring the U.S. Speedskating team for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Seriously, that man has the best promotions people in the world.

+ Here's an interview with J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof and other folks behind "Lost," "Fringe," "Star Trek" and basically everything our little nerd hearts desire.

+ Speaking of "Lost," here's a new poster that, rumor has it, may contain some clues to the new season. Thanks @davidmanly for the tip!

+ Here's a new Doctor Who "End of Time" trailer. I can't wait for this!

+ Make your own Spock monkey! It's so cute! (via @TNRLM)

+ Jason Segel AND Craig Ferguson AND puppets AND Dracula? It doesn't get much better than that! Segel performed "Dracula's Lament" from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" on the Ferguson show the other night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: "Alice," Fillion, "Prince of Persia," General Zod, chunky Earths and Barrowman

Here's a fun fact about cats - if you take them to the vet and the term "anal gland" enters the mix, said cat will not talk to you for the rest of the day and in fact, will sit with her back to you and use her telepathy to swear like a profane kitty sailor. This is a fact.

And now on with the news:

+ Check out this amazing new trailer from Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." I will, of course, go see anything that Tim Burton makes, aside from babies and hams, but I'm really excited about this movie.

+ Nathan Fillion would make a fabulous replacement for Regis Philbin one day. (A girl can dream, right?) Here he interviews "Castle" co-star Stana Katic, and reveals that his "cult status" is "the pope." I love him.

+ I've had less than zero interest in seeing the "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" movie with Jake Gyllenhaal. That's changed though now that A) I found out it's directed by Mike Newell, of all people and B) I saw this behind-the-scenes preview which actually made it look pretty entertaining. Whether it's entertaining enough to forgive Gyllenhaal's hair, well, we'll have to see about that...

+ If I had a lot of money, like to the extent where I was just setting it on fire for fun, I would love to get one of these General Zod 12-inch action figures. Of course, if I had enough money to burn, I might just try to get Terence Stamp to sit on my front porch and randomly shout, "Kneel before Zod!" to whoever passes by.

+ Astronomers have discovered six "super-Earths" orbiting nearby stars. Apparently, the term "super-Earths" has nothing to do with superheroes but instead means just really large Earth-like planets, which all prefer being called "big boned." Scientists say this is a huge advance in planet-detecting technology (the discovery of the planets, not the thing about big-boned).

+ "Buffy" alumnus Nicholas Brendon is now on Twitter.

+ And simply because it's Wednesday and Wednesday seems like the perfect day for show tunes, here's singing John Barrowman "Anything Goes."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Odds & Ends: NPH, Lost, history of lights, John Noble and science writing

+ As I wrestle with decorating my currently naked Christmas tree, I was fascinated with this article on Gizmodo about the history of Christmas lights. Let's just say I'm glad I live in an age where I don't have to stand by with buckets of sand when lighting the festive tree candles.

+ Speaking of hot things, Neil Patrick Harris will get to show off his musical skills again in the 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother," when he and the rest of the cast perform an ode to suits.

+ Here are the first publicity photos released for the upcoming season of "Lost." Sure, they look pretty much like a series of expensive GAP ads, but it's always nice to see Ben and his creepy stare. Spoiler alert: don't look at these if you don't want to know who may or may not be returning to the series.

+ AFI has announced their list of the top ten movies and TV shows of 2009. "Big Bang Theory" and "True Blood" made the cut as did "Coraline" and "Up."

+ I agree one hundred percent with this essay on why John Noble should win an Emmy for "Fringe." He's absolutely brilliant in that series.

+ Geek Dad over at Wired has a nifty review on a new compendium on modern science writing, edited by Richard Dawkins. I'll definitely be putting this on my to-read list.

+ And, based on some requests, I've added a few new products to The Park Bench store over at Cafe Press. Get 'em while they're hot!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Park Bench T-Shirts Want to Live in Your Closet

Just in time for the holidays...or actually, almost too late for the holidays but still in time for that festive month of January...we've got some Park Bench accessories for you and yours. There's t-shirts (long and short sleeved) as well as hoodies and the always popular mug option, all emblazoned with the image below:

It's got yer mad scientist, it's got yer nerdery, it's got yer brain in a jar...what says "happy holidays" better than that? So if you'd like to support The Park Bench and show some nerd pride as well, please visit our fledgling little Cafe Press shop. I hope you like it! And definitely let me know if you see any glitches or anything I need to add because, as with most things, I have no idea what I'm doing. A big thanks to designer extraordinaire and all-around nice guy Manning Krull for his awesome illustration.

And a big thanks to all of you guys, too, for reading The Park Bench! You're the best!

Friday Odds & Ends: Natalie Portman & zombies, Doctor Who clip, LEGOs and Trek

+ Well, I'd call this a perfect bit of casting: Natalie Portman will star in the film version of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." If she survived "The Phantom Menace," she can survive anything.

+ There's a very cute new preview clip out today from the upcoming Doctor Who "End of Time" two-parter, the one I'll be watching while curled in the fetal position weeping bitterly. Anyway, I'll just post the link here since one of the guest cast members is visible in the still frame of the video, and I don't want to get cited for spoilers.

+ Check out this preview of the new LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1 through 4 game. I wish my LEGOs could have done all this cool stuff when I was a kid. Thanks, Emily, for the link!

+ Have you ever wanted to Tweet in Klingon? Of course you have. And now you can, with this handy Klingon Tweet converter. If you want to confuse your friends today, hands down this is the best way. Thanks to Megan for the tip!

+ There's a new film project out soon directed by "Buffy" alumni Amber Benson and Adam Busch, and starring fellow "Buffy" alumnus Jonathan Woodward and former "Freaks and Geeks" cast member Samm Levine. It's called "Drones" and here's a trailer.

+ I want this menorah. Way to hand-craft some nerdy holiday cheer!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Odds & Ends (Way Late Edition): Nobels, Day, Levi and iPhones

Just a few quick nuggets today, and also a sincere thanks to everyone who's been sharing tales of their own nerdy humiliations in the comments section of yesterday's post. You've had me in stitches with some of these stories, and I very much appreciate the sharing!

+ A tip of the hat to the world's brainiest ladies - a record five women were awarded Nobel Prizes this year in fields as varied as literature and economics.

+ Speaking of smart chickies, Felicia Day will be guest starring on Fox's "Lie to Me" this coming Monday, and rumor has it, she'll be doing a bit of singing. Now if only Captain Hammer would turn up as well...

+ Pining for some "Chuck?" Here's 10 Questions with Zachary Levi. They're all trick questions and story problems - those TV Guide people are total bastards!

+ Students from the University of Michigan have learned how to use iPhones as musical instruments. Is there nothing those phones can't do? Well, fly. I know they can't do that. Not well, at least.

+ And finally, if things work out, there may be a Park Bench t-shirt available for purchase and frequent wearing quite soon. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nerd humiliation: the gift that keeps on giving

Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of being a nerd is the social awkwardness and tendency toward humiliation that often comes with it. This is, of course, a stereotype but one which for me, as you know, has always been true. Cases in point: I've yet to meet a flight of stairs that didn't want to teach me a lesson about gravity. If there's a way to mangle somebody's name or engage in a sweaty palmed handshake with a superior, I'm your girl. There's at least a 90 percent chance that whatever food I eat also will end up somewhere on my person. There are the guffaws that turn into snorts so spectacular I'm lucky my teeth don't end up in my sinus cavities, and then there are the times I just flat out accidentally drool. In short, if there's a way for me to look stupid, I'm gonna grab it with both hands...and then probably fall down.

So why bring this up? Because in the past, whenever I made an ass of myself, I assumed it was just something I'd grow out of. I've assumed that for well-on 20 years now, and yesterday, I finally realized the terrible truth: age does not cure a propensity for humiliation. If anything, age just makes the falling down and drooling sadder.

Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half in an important business meeting, one which I'd been preparing for over the course of several days. I had my papers in order, my outfit selected. I made sure all zippers were zipped and that my clodhoppers were covered in slip-proof shoes. Despite my best preparations, I discovered after the meeting had ended that I'd been sitting there the entire time with a dried flap of make-up hanging off my upper lip. You remember when the Nazis melted in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and their flesh just kind of slid off their faces? Yeah, like that, only worse because IT HAPPENED TO ME. And there wasn't any context. Face melting needs context.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm exaggerating and it wasn't that bad, but sweet fancy Moses, I sat through a whole meeting with that damn thing waggling there on my face like a big flappy dolphin tail. Someone's probably writing a folk song about it right now.

I should be used to this sort of thing by now, but as I said, I'd always hoped that age would rectify these issues. Normal women, no doubt, would have checked their faces before getting out of the car. Me? No, I was preoccupied listening to a song about cricket and thinking about a McGriddle when I stepped out of the car, feeling foolishly confident because I'd managed to accessorize. And then hubris bit my ass!

So, I write this simply to warn others out there. Don't ever be lulled into a sense of complacency, thinking you've conquered that tendency toward misaligning your blouse buttons and showing boob at a funeral. Time heals no nerdy wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise. We're on our own with our social clumsiness. We must be vigilent! Only we can prevent shame...and forest fires...but mostly shame.

Wednesday Odds & Ends: Mobius bagels, old school "Star Trek," Mr. Burns and master's degrees

+ I need to go buy some six or seven thousand test bagels right now. Why? Because apparently it's possible to cut them into Mobius strips which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Thing of the cream cheese possibilities!

+ Speaking of cheese, SFX Magazine was touting this original "Star Trek the Motion Picture" making-of featurette this morning on Twitter. I'm pretty sure the guy who narrated it is the same guy who narrated every single short film ever created in the 1970s. Also, there's shots of a slim Shatner chewing gum. Le rowr.

+ Rumor has it that John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway might be joining the cast of "Spider Man 4."

+ Did you know that "The Simpsons" Mr. Burns won the write-in vote for New York City mayor in this year's election? He earned 10 percent of the vote, snatching victory from the likes of such fictional and dead luminaries as Mickey Mouse, Alfred E. Newman and Sleeping Beauty. Thanks, Megan, for the link!

+ If you were a fan of Spaulding Gray, this might spark your interest: Steven Soderbergh has made a documentary on Gray and it's set to debut at this year's Slamdance festival. I saw a few of Gray's stage shows in Ann Arbor way back when, and he was an extraordinary performer. I'm looking forward to this film.

+ If I had a million dollars, I'd go to college forever and earn ridiculous degree after ridiculous degree. Should that ever happen, Mental Floss has composed a handy list of "13 Incredibly Focused Graduate Programs." I'd love to see video of what happens when some 22 year old kid announces to his parents that he'd like a few extra bucks to earn that Beatles master's degree. Hilarity and weeping ensues...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Monday Odds & Ends (Afternoon Edition): Potter, Whedon, spaceships, artists and dorks

+ If you can't wait to see the new footage from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" promised with tomorrow's DVD release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," well, then here it is a day early:

+ Want to hear what Joss Whedon has to say about why he thinks "Dollhouse" was cancelled? Here's a pretty expansive interview with the man himself.

+ Virgin Galactic unveiled its commercial spaceship this morning. It looks like a really big plane. Couldn't he have made it flashier, like maybe added a faux warp drive? C'mon, Branson, I expect a little more Buck Rogers for my dollar!

+ Check out these gorgeous portraits of sci-fi and other authors created by comic book artists. They're really lovely.

+ So apparently, the decade is ending. I sort of had forgotten that until I started noticing all these "Best of the Decade" lists cropping up. Seems like kind of an important thing to know.... Oh well! Time is relative. And with that, here's a list of the decade's most lovable TV dorks.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Odds & Ends: "Who," Cameron, "Buck Rogers," cool architecture and kitty!

+ I loved this list by SFX of the "27 Things SFX Loves About New Who." I agreed with just about all of them, and it's a nice little look back.

+ I'm sneaking this one in just under the wire, but apparently today at 3 p.m. EST, director James Cameron is doing a live Q&A about "Avatar." I wish I had more interest in seeing this movie, but it's just not doing it for me yet.

+ Hey, there's going to be a new "Buck Rogers" web series! Below is a preview clip, which, as Topless Robot pointed out, is really pretty but really dull. But it's pretty!

+ Check out this proposed garden residential building that might one day soon be built in Chongqing, China. Designed by MAD Architects, it's called the Urban Forest. It's pretty nifty, although I might be just slightly terrified to live there.

+ And finally, because it's a bit of a slow news day and because I could use some stress relief, let's all take a few moments to appreciate the splendor of the legendary Surprised Kitty.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: King, Holmes, Greatest American Hero, typewriters and prodigies

+ Stephen King is mulling over ideas for a sequel to "The Shining," which would follow creepy Big Wheel-riding kid Danny Torrence as an adult. I get chills just thinking about that damn movie.

+ Back in my day, when projectors were powered by steam and popcorn cost half a penny, we didn't like having our seats shaken during movies. Now, though, ten theaters across the U.S. will be equipped with special motion seats that will jostle you around during bits of the new "Sherlock Holmes" movie. Hmm, vibrating seats and a Robert Downey Jr. movie...I can see a certain audience appeal for this.

+ If you're of a certain age -- say, mine, for example -- you quite possibly have fond memories of a TV show called "The Greatest American Hero," which is now available on Hulu. Now, you can relive the glory -- or be sadly disappointed that it doesn't live up to your memories. Either way, it'll kill 45-minutes of your work day.

+ Brilliant writer Mindy Kaling, aka Kelly on "The Office," is teaming up with fellow "Office" writer Brent Forrester to pen a script for a new film called "The Low Self Esteem of Lizzie Gillespie." The movie follows the story of a woman whose low self esteem has her thinking she can only date losers.

+ In sad Luddite news, Cormac McCarthy's 50 year old typewriter finally gave up the ghost, no doubt yielding to depression after logging an estimated five million words for the cheery author. McCarthy is auctioning the typewriter, which is estimated to sell for $15,000 to $20,000. It's okay though - McCarthy's purchased a new typewriter for $11 so he's going to break even.

+ Were you a brilliant child? There's hope for you yet! Check out this list of "Nine Child Prodigies (Who Actually Ended Up Doing Something)." If only I was nine years old and a genius, that story would totally make me feel better. Maybe if I pretended to be nine years old....well, I suppose my husband would go to prison. Okay, scrap that.

So how's your day going? Read any good books lately?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: Torchwood, Douglas Adams, Iron Man 2, Lost and great Scots

+ Good news for "Torchwood" fans: John Barrowman confirmed in a radio interview yesterday that the series will be back for a full 13-episode run. Fingers crossed they keep up the stellar quality of the "Children of Earth" mini-series.

+ Do you have a bathtub? Would you like a new one? Or rather a slightly used one? Well, you're in luck. Douglas Adams' bathtub -- the one in which he apparently soaked when he needed ideas -- is up for sale on eBay. You still have one day and a few hours left in the auction, so gather up your rubber duckies and start bidding!

+ Check out the swanky new poster for "Iron Man 2." I personally can't wait for this sequel.

+ Speaking of highly anticipated movies, USA Today has a small behind-the-scenes article on part one of the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" films.

+ Have you seen this awesome "Lost" promo from Spain, featuring the cast as chess pieces? I got goosebumps watching it. Hurry back to my TV screen, "Lost," I miss you!

+ And finally, David Tennant has finished fifth in the "Greatest Scot" contest, behind those slackers Robert Burns, William Wallace and some fellow who invented penicillin. As if that wasn't enough, David also will be featured as The Doctor on a new commemorative Royal Mint coin, giving women everywhere a whole new reason to carry change in their pockets. "What's that jangling?" "Oh, it's just Janet, she loves a good commemorative coin." Thus ends my Royal Mint fan fiction.