Saturday, March 31, 2007

Yes, I sometimes watch VH1

Have a short attention span? Enjoy funny mini-movies? Then check out Acceptable TV, now on VH1. Specifically, check out anything my close internet acquaintance JD Ryznar does on the show. He's one of the brilliant minds behind the Yacht Rock phenomenon, which received many positive reviews in magazines that actually get sold in stores and such. And here's one of his Acceptable TV bits, in which he stars as Homeless James Bond:

Blades of Glory: figure skating and naked Ferrell

While not as wonderfully ridiculous as Talladega Nights, Will Ferrell's new movie Blades of Glory is still pretty damn funny, especially if you like to see Olympic-style mascots catch fire. The movie's premise -- Will Ferrell and Jon Heder as figure skating's first all-male pair -- accounts for half the goofiness with the other half coming from a nearly non-stop barrage of quirky, little moments. Most of those moments come from Ferrell: watching him stroke his naked, hirsute torso and proclaiming it as the ideal skater's body, watching him make sweet, verbal love to his $12,000 hairbrush and watching him try very, very hard to overcome his sex addiction despite a lingerie-clad Jenna Fischer is all worth the price of admission.

Special mention should go to Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as Ferrell and Heder's villainous skating competitors. Personally, I think Arnett should always lay provocatively on a polar bear skin rug. It's something the world needs in these dark times. The same can be said of Will Ferrell movies. I'm looking forward to his next one where he plays a basketball player. And the one after that where he plays a championship sailor. And the one after that where he plays a jockey convicted of steroid use. Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Friday News Wrap-Up

* David Duchovny, why do you tease us so? Rumor has it that the last hurdles standing in the way of a second X Files movie have been cleared and production could start as early as 2008. For someone who has, on occasion, held drunken, one-sided conversations with her Mulder and Scully action figures, the news couldn’t be any better. Of course, we’ve heard movie rumors before so I refuse to get too excited until I’m actually sitting in the front row of my neighborhood cineplex, eating popcorn and staring up into the dark recesses of David’s mighty proboscis.

* Soon you will be able to strap an EEG onto your head and play video games with your brain. Thanks to a company called Emotiv Systems, I'll finally be able to play Minesweeper without the wear-and-tear of actually moving my limbs, which, let’s face it, are going to atrophy into useless flippers before human evolution’s all said and done. Here’s hoping the device comes with a catheter and a lifetime supply of Red Bull.

* If you'd prefer to steer clear of the EEG, you can always exercise those neurons with a free poem-a-day from those book-loving hippies at in celebration of National Poetry Month this April. If you sign up, they'll send a poem from one of their new publications to your inbox every day, and they all will rhyme. Just kidding. It's probably free-form stuff that we all have to nod at thoughtfully and pretend to understand.

* Apropos of nothing, here’s a blog devoted to shoes and shoe faux pas, written in the voice of an effiminate, patronizingly accented gentleman who puts the word “the” in front of every noun, verb and adjective he can find. Is it supposed to be funny or not? I just don't know.

* Speaking of funny, here’s why I like the Internet: because I don’t have to watch all of Saturday Night Live anymore. If something funny happens, like Peyton Manning beating up little kids and teaching them to steal, I can just watch it online, thus saving me valuable time to learn how to play video games with my brain.

* And last but not least, tomorrow is My Political Boyfriend Al Gore's birthday. My girthsome Earth-prophet will be turning 59. In honor of the big day, I pledge (seriously) to walk, not drive, to all my errands, and also, if I get drunk, I might crank call Senator Inhofe and pretend I'm Barbara Boxer coming to steal his gavel. Dirty!

* ETA: I almost forgot this tidbit. Remember that contest at the Chicago Tribune I posted on a couple weeks back, where people could vote on their favorite TV character? Here are the shocking results: Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck smacked 24's Jack, 3,061 votes to 777 votes. Maybe it's because Kara knows how to use her inside voice, unlike Jack "I have a top-secret message but I'm going to shout it into this phone as loud as I can" Bauer. That's my theory.

How many signs of the apocalypse is that now?

Karl Rove, rapping. There's really nothing else I can say about it. You just have to witness it yourself.

I have to go stanch the flow of blood from my eyes now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Point/Counterpoint: Star Wars

Never ones to shy away from life’s hard issues, fellow Park Bencher Ms. C and I have tackled one of the most divisive, difficult questions known in all of girl nerddom: who’s better – Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section after reading our spirited debate below, moderated by the spirit of Brit Hume:

Ms. C: Luke's the HERO. He saves everybody! Sure, he needs Han's help, but what real man doesn't accept a friend's help when saving the world from evil?

Liz: Yes, but Luke never would have blown up the Death Star in Episode Four without Han coming in at the last minute to save him. Ergo, without Han, the Empire would have incinerated Luke and all the other rebels. Plus, let's face it, Han wore better clothes and probably didn't smell like toasted Jawas.

Ms. C: Luke has vitality and a youthful exuberance that counteracts Han's cynical selfishness. Plus, Luke has blond hair and we all know, it's a scientific fact, that blonds have more fun. I read that once. Also, Luke isn't spoiled by years of illegal dealings, and if we're going to start name-calling about smells, how 'bout the fact that Luke didn't have the lingering odor of wet wookiee?

Liz: If by "cynical selfishness" you mean "unbridled hotness," then I agree totally. And while I concur that, in general, blonds do have more fun, Luke almost single-handedly tanks that theory by accidentally making out with his own sister after his encounter with the Wampa monster on Hoth in Episode 5. Oh, wait -- and who saved him from the Wampa? *cough*Han AGAIN*cough*. As for the wet wookiee, I’ll have you know that Chewbacca smells like Herbal Essences.

Ms. C: I would hardly call that peck on the lips "making out." But I digress; sure, Luke lacks the eroticism of the "bad boy," the rebel, the savvy ne'er-do-well, but need I remind you that without Luke's strategy, confidence, and sexy skill with the light saber, Han would still be a giant licorice popsicle decorating Jabba's den?

Liz: Alright, you got me with the rescue from Jabba's lair. Luke did a good job there for once, but frankly, Han may not have been in that awkward position if he'd just gone back to Tatooine with his reward money and paid off Jabba instead of sticking around to save Luke at the end of Episode Four. Also, Han saved the ark from all those Nazis.

Ms. C: Luke has the Force!

Liz: Han never did Cinemax porn.

And with that, we shake hands and call it a draw. Then the spirit of Brit Hume gives us post-debate rub-downs, and we have cocoa.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When your significant other becomes just as nerdy as you...

Below is a picture of my husband. We’ll call him Hoyt, which is what he goes by for a good three or four hours every day since he discovered what the head-shaking pundits call “World of Warcrack,” also known as WoW.

Hoyt describes himself as a “shy, Level 28 Night Elf Hunter who likes to hang out around Darkshore helping his fellow Guards of Valor Guildies.” I know Hoyt best, however, as the man who sits to the right of me on the couch every night.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those wives who shakes her finger at her husband and says he can’t play his games. If I were, our living room wouldn’t be filled with every gaming system known to man, and I also wouldn’t be a champion Wii tennis pro in my own right. No, what I’m worried about is this: has my husband always been a nerd or did I make him this way?

It’s the age-old chicken and the egg question. Did Hoyt’s passion for Halo and Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft start because of me and my lifelong nerdness? Or was it always there, lying dormant beneath what seemed to be a hockey-loving, baseball-cap wearing, loud-music listening, fast car-driving All-American man exterior?

He claims he was always a nerd, but I don’t know if I buy it. Sure, when he was little he used to shoot his Chewbacca action figures into the air and he probably read the occasional comic book, and yeah, he has SuperMario World completely memorized, which is freaky to this day. But I tend to think that our proximity over the years has taken his latent nerd gene and sent it to levels he never would have imagined before we met. I know it’s true for me. He’s helped unleash new facets of my personality, like my sports-loving gene. He's made me face the fact that I might like Metallica and gotten me to enjoy movies with zombies in them, so the proximity theory makes sense to me. Besides, I like the idea – if two people can’t raise their nerd flag high with each other, than what’s the point of togetherness anyway? Sometimes you need that other person to brag to about slaying your undead demonoids or hash out whether President Roslin’s one of the Final Five. Forget all that Hallmark stuff about roses and teddy bears. This is how the system should work.

Of course, before I wrap this up and put a big bow on it, I should point out that Hoyt has made a World of Warcrack character for our cat. Yes, our cat. And he calls other players who won’t fight him “carebears.” I think this is ridiculously funny. So, while I may feel just a wee bit of guilt for making him nerdy, I’m still gonna laugh at him every damn chance I get.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Nerd Man of the Month: Joss Whedon

With the recent debut of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Season 8 comic book series, now seemed like the perfect time to name Joss Whedon our first Nerd Man of the Month. Witty and talented with a couch-honed physique and catastrophic hairline, our Mr. March is a Nerd World Everyman. He’s that guy we liked in AV class but didn’t ask out because we thought maybe we could do better. And then he graduates and creates an incredible TV series and then we feel really stupid because, shit, he just got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and here I am on the couch eating ice cream.

Beyond our high school regrets, however, Joss Whedon earns our girl nerd love because of his incredible skill as a writer. From Buffy to Angel to Firefly, he’s crafted some of television’s finest hours, seamlessly bridging that harrowing gap between fall-down funny comedy and bitterly heart-rending drama – all with monsters and space ships and more heroes and metaphors than Joseph Campbell could shake his dead, jealous fist at. And while I still haven’t forgiven Mr. Whedon for bifurcating Anya in the last episode of Buffy, he did make up for it in so many other ways. He gave us Once More With Feeling and a hot librarian named Giles and a Mandarin-spewing space cowboy we like to call “Captain Tightpants.” For those reasons and so many more, The Park Bench is proud to name Joss Whedon our Nerd Man of the Month.

Nerd Girl Dream Jobs: An Interview with Cartoonist Katie Cook

We’ve all got those dream jobs we fantasize about as we sit at our desks, counting the minutes until Friday. We here at The Park Bench went out and found someone who actually holds one of those dream jobs, and then begged her to sit with us and tell us what it’s like. That kind-hearted person is cartoonist Katie Cook. She’s an illustrating pro with an impressive portfolio of work reflecting the true girl nerd canon, including Wonder Woman, Spiderman, The Lord of the Rings and more. When you’re done reading this interview, which includes a recap of Katie’s encounter with nerd icon Joss Whedon, be sure to check out Katie’s website for a look at some of her fabulous work.

How did you get into illustrating?

This is a tough question to answer because I really don't think I "got into it." It kind of chose me! I've always been drawing, ever since I was a little kid. My parents tell me that since elementary school I've walked around saying, "I want to be a cartoonist!", not "I want to be an astronaut" or "I want to be a princess!", but a catoonist. My first grade teacher even threatened to hold me back to repeat the grade if I didn't stop drawing on the margins of my assignments! But, I did pursue art all through school and even in college. I have a BFA with a concentration in illustration... whatever that means.

What's your favorite thing about drawing?
For me, it's the act of drawing. There's something really calming and yet really thrilling about the feel of a pencil against paper. It's kind of a silly answer, but it's true. Seeing the end product is always really fun too. Sometimes something comes out of you that you really didn't know was in there and you get to say to yourself, "Wow! I did that!"

What's your least favorite?
I can answer this question in one word...deadlines.

What tools do you use?
My main tools of the trade are a .5 mechanical pencil, Micron Pigma pens (my favorite size is the 01), a giant bucket full of prismacolor art markers, and a shiny intel imac. I draw most of my work on bristol board. Most commissioned work I color in marker, but I do quite a bit of digital coloring as well. Also, it never hurts to have a cat. They provide no actual enhancement to the drawing (other than a few stray cat hairs), but they DO provide cute company and the occasional outburst of attacking the pencil while you're drawing. Hours of entertainment people!

Where do you find your inspiration?
Oh, a little bit here, a little bit there. Mostly, my love for all things nerd inspires me. I love drawing comic book characters and things from movies that I love. I love to sit down with a movie and just draw while I'm watching it. Sometimes some great stuff pops up just when you're doodling! A lot of my inspiration also comes from the people who follow my work. They offer a lot of fun suggestions or say something like, "Wow! I'd love to see you draw _____", and a little lightbulb goes off saying, "Man, I should draw that!"

If someone came up to you and said they wanted to learn how to draw, what would you tell them?
To just draw! That's the best answer I have...observing objects, nature, light, etc and just practicing how to translate them onto the page is very important. I may draw cartoons for a living now, but I got my start as a technical and medical illustrator! (very detailed, mechanical drawings). I am a HUGE proponent of the fact that you should be able to draw everything spot-on before you can start deconstructing them (cartooning).

I know you draw a lot of superheroes, so you're definitely qualified to answer this one: what's the best super power?
I've had this conversation more that you'll ever know. I'm personally a big fan of the "being super" super power. This is the term I use for having powers like Wonder Woman or Superman...just a collection of strength, agility, flying, etc., that all wrap up into a very neat lil' package.

Okay, you're a Star Wars fan, too, so here's a tough one: Luke or Han?
Han...hands down!

You've met nerd icon Joss Whedon -- was his magnificence overwhelming?
Actually, he was very nice and laid back. His assistant snapped a photo of us and Joss said, "You know, we were facing a window... it might be washed out, can we take another one?" Truly awesome. I ran into him at the airport that same weekend (Comic Con 2006) and handed him a little picture I drew of him. He was even on our flight with us and he was sitting back in coach! I mean, Joss Whedon... flies coach!

Friday, March 23, 2007

French UFOs and Houdini!

Is it Christmas and nobody told me? Because waking up to news stories about French UFOs and the exhumation of Harry Houdini is almost too much for my little nerd heart to take.

The French government, because they apparently have nothing else to do, has opened its files on all recorded UFO sightings in their wine-soaked land. Of the 1,400 or so cases reported, the government says 25 percent remain unexplained. This is because the French only work 32 hours a week and also because France has neither a Mulder nor a Scully. If you want to check out the UFOs yourself and happen to speak French, then bookmark I say bookmark because Whitley Streiber and the other nerd boys are hogging it right now and crashing the server.

On top of UFOs, dead magician Harry Houdini's family wants his body exhumedto determine whether or not he was poisoned by Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. No, really. Apparently, Doyle's gang, The Spiritualists, hated Houdini for trying to debunk the concept of seances and in a letter signed by Doyle, claimed that Houdini would soon "get his just desserts very exactly meted out." And then he twirled his mustache, cackled mightily and went to tie a damsel to the train tracks. Who knew Doyle was such a drama queen?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another volume for the bedside table...

Just discovered this book, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs and I think I'm in page-turning love. If you like inane trivia facts, debates about intelligence versus knowledge and extraordinarly funny asides, this is the memoir for you. As a nerd, it's difficult not to like a writer who decides one day to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica -- and then proceeds to tell you all the juicy bits. Byatt sneaks in fascinating blurbs as he makes his way through the entries, recapping everything and everyone from the Aztecs to Francis Bacon in a manner that would put a Television Without Pity chronicler to shame. Throughout, he intersperses anecdotes detailing his efforts to put his new knowledge to use, becoming, in the process, a pariah at dinner parties as he spouts seemingly useless knowledge with the self-control of a Tourette's patient. Sweet, charming and smart, this is a book worth reading, from A to Z.

I read you don't have to

First thing I notice, this magazine is a lot heavier than Entertainment Weekly and my arms are unprepared for the burden. After a little bit of whining and readjustment, I man up (in a totally feminine way) and start reading:

In “Sexy Vs. Skanky,” I learn that when you’re in rehab, it’s sexy “to spend time working through issues,” but it’s skanky to spend “your time flirting with guys.” This is actually a good tip.

The “Secrets Behind His Seduction Style” article had big glossy pictures of buff, shirtless men which means that I, uh, didn’t really read the words so much as look at the pictures. Sorry.

The “Weird Signs He Wants To Impress You” story featured my favorite line of the entire magazine: “He gushes prematurely.” This crass gem actually refers to guys who give over-the-top compliments at incorrect moments, but to me, it seems like a sign from the editorial team that at least one of their writers has a sense of humor…and is likely being held against her will.

The photo essay “Personal Assistants’ Day Off” finally answers my question: what if you’re a lazy paparazzi photographer and you don’t feel like engaging in high-speed, royalty-offing chases through Paris streets? The answer? You sell your pictures to Cosmo so they can show us Debra Messing pumping gas and Jennifer Love Hewitt picking up her dry cleaning.

Turning to fashion, I find a helpful list of “The Seven Things I Crave Right Now.” I thought those seven things all included the word “pie” but apparently not. Instead, what I want is a sheer top, slimming jeans, a cocktail ring, an eyelet jacket, a lacy sundress, a jeweled headband and Miu Miu Satin Mary Janes. For $1,290 I can satisfy these cravings. Or I can spend $1.25 on a Hostess Fruit Pie. I am opting for the latter.

In “Is My Skin Aging Too Fast?” I’m faced with the penetrating question: “Are your facial expressions as animated as your hands are when you talk?” No, but I continue reading, only to learn that “making a lot of exuberant gestures – smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows – cause your skin to crinkle and fold.” Egads. The solution? I couldn’t make this up if I tried: “When you’re on the phone in private, put Scotch tape between your brows…This will clue you in to when you’re grimacing.” If you have friends who you think would actually do this, please stand on their front porch, call them from your cell phone and take pictures of them through the window. Pleeeeease.

In “99 Sex Facts No One’s Ever Told You,” I learned that grizzly bears and polar bears have a sordid sexual past that I wish I never uncovered.

After a while, I got bored and skipped ahead to the end of the magazine where “The Bedside Astrologer” told me to don a gorgeous cocktail ring on the 28th. If I knew what a goddamn cocktail ring was, this would not be a problem.

Finally, to cap off the total experience, I took a Cosmo quiz, “Do Guys Think You’re a Difficult Date?” and scored a solid four, earning me the label of “sexy challenge.” Then my husband laughed at me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wednesday News Wrap-Up

* According to The Washington Post, good penmanship is officially dead. Somewhere John Hancock cries and gives America's first-grade teachers the finger.

* USA Today claims that teenage girls stopped making Grey's Anatomy video montages long enough to watch Barack Obama videos and elect him president of YouTube Land. The story also chronicles how fellow presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich seems to accidentally be creating his own brigade of Squeaky Frommes:

Kucinich has been particularly active. On March 16, he took the unusual step of responding to a video from James Kotecki, a vlogger that goes by the name "EmergencyCheese." Kotecki had called for interaction from the candidates with the YouTube community. Kucinich's response then prompted Kotecki to post a video praising the candidate for his bold step. He also dances while chanting: "Gotta response from Kucinich."

* Saucy science nerd Al Gore is on Capital Hill today showing off his Oscar and encouraging congressmen to accept the fact that driving Hummers will NOT make up for their physical shortcomings.

* Long-time girl nerd hearthrob David Duchovny is returning to television with a new Showtime comedy series. He plays a novelist with a penchant for self-destructive behavior. Two words: action figure!

* And finally, The Chicago Tribune has been doing their own tournament of sorts for TV characters. It's down to the Final Four: Jack Bauer (24) vs. Jack Donaghy (30 Rock) and Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica) vs. Dr. Greg House (House). I wish these were spin-off ideas. I would love to see Jack Donaghy take down Jack Bauer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Just like American Idol

It took me three decades to figure out that the Seven Wonders of the World were not Sleepy, Dopey, Happy and the rest of that crew. Come July 7, we'll all have to learn a new set of Wonders. An overachieving bunch of Swiss-based do-gooders has launched The New 7 Wonders of the World, a global poll aimed at finding, obviously, a new and improved batch of awe-inspiring places.

After sifting through hundreds of candidates including Epcot Center, the land-locked Sea World in Ohio and my neighbor's freakishly clean garage, organizers have narrowed the field down to 21 finalists including these heavy hitters:

Machu Pichu

Hands-down, Machu Pichu is the most fun name to say. I give this one big points.
Ma-chu Pi-chu. Ma-chu Pi-chu. Say it loud. Say it proud!

Easter Island Statues

Awin for these guys surely would please our future "Chariot of the Gods"-riding alien masters when they return to Earth.


This one is a clear winner because it was in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," the best of the three Indiana Jones movies. "The dooog was named Indiana...." Ha, I love that wife-beating Scotsman....and I think international voters will, too.

The odds don't look so good for these candidates:

Hagia Sophia -- Sounds like a chubby Slavic girl.

Neuschwanstein Castle -- Too many consonents.

Sydney Opera House -- Nothing featured in "Finding Nemo" should be ranked as a wonder of the world. Maaaaybe Ellen. Maybe.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ninjas. Seriously.

First, you know I'm a nerd because I watch G4. Second, you know I'm a nerd because I spent four hours yesterday watching a show called Ninja Warriors on G4. The show features a whole bunch of really buff Japanese men (and maybe two girls) trying to make it through a ridiculously hard obstacle course. According to the G4 website, 1,400 people have attempted to make it through the first stage and only 200 have been successful.

Here's a minute-long sampling:

I really think we should do the Olympics this way. Wouldn't gymnastics be cooler if flames shot up into the air after a spectacular vault or if ribbon dancers were flung into pools of muddy water if they messed up? The answer, of course, is yes.

The new season of Ninja Warrior starts tomorrow night at 6:30 EST. I encourage you to watch it. G4 will send you a free Ninja Warrior crack pipe when you tune in -- THAT's how addictive it is.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dating and the Single Girl...Nerd

From the pen of girl nerd Ms. C. comes this new series, a painfully honest account of one single girl nerd meant to edify, inform, inspire, and remind you that you're not alone in this.

I've belonged to Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, and now the newly-discovered Virb (sold to me by my sister-in-law as, "A place so new, there's no ex-boyfriends there!")

But the problem I've found with those sites is that I simply don't use them the way they're intended. My eyes burn when I see moving sparkles and my parents aren't really that mean, nor am I interested in your new band. Hey! I'm sure they're AWESOME! And most of the guys on there...well, there's no way to know who they REALLY are, if they're even guys...or 18.

I prefer to meet guys the old-fashioned ways: at a party, through a mutual friend, or, ideally, through arranged marriage. What that means is that romance will happen as it happens. I must be patient.

In fact, I'm always telling myself, "Patience." Or actually, to be honest, I'm always telling myself, "Patience, young jedi" and it's in Yoda's voice. This is how I know I am a full-fledged, card-carrying, grade A girl nerd: Yoda is giving me dating advice.

I was recently "outed" as a girl nerd by a friend who opened my eyes to what I'd denied for years. Sure, I liked Star Wars and pretty much any movie with robots or outer space, but I didn't feel I had much of a choice: I grew up in the 80's. Sure, I owned more books than blouses...and slacks...and shoes...combined, but I was hip! I had a job and apartment in the heart of The City, I biked, I camped and hiked, I listened to Radiohead...oh. Right. There was no denying it.

So now I choose to embrace it. I choose to wrap my shapely arms around the concept that it's OK to like BSG and to call it BSG. It's OK to go to bed at 9 p.m. on a weeknight, and to read a chapter of The Chamber of Secrets before completing two crossword puzzles while the cats race each other up and down the hall. It's OK to do all this after an evening where I dined on reheated beans and rice out of a tupperware bowl, washed that down with a light beer, left hand flipping the pages of Rolling Stone, right hand clicking links on my laptop in between bites, and reading text messages from a friend telling me to stop everything I'm doing and GO SEE 300 OH MY GAWED IT'S SO WOW.

I'm a nerd. I'm a girl. I'm single. And it's OK.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I don't understand it, but it tastes great

For those of you not tapped into the intricacies of the global math nerd calendar, today was Pi Day. Hundreds of people with advanced degrees and hundreds of other people who were just hungry gathered at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco to recite the digits of pi, sing pi songs, eat lots of pie and write pi haikus (Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to write trios of 14-line sonnets because of the whole 3.14 thing? Or not. Nevermind. – Ed.)

Said Boy Math Nerd Luke Anderson in an article on, “We few of us out there who are open with our love of math -- who are unabashed math lovers -- for us, this is the day where we get to let our hair down and be silly." As opposed to the other days when they have to scowl and use protractors and sit on hard chairs.

This year’s celebration also marked the 128th birthday of Albert Einstein, who rudely chose to remain on his own astral plane and not attend despite his ability to bend time and space.

News that matters...very little at all

* Anna Nicole Smith still dead, not yet craving human brains.

* MSNBC shocked -- shocked, I tell you! -- that people who aren't white can be hot.

* In Indiana, karma evicts, prepares to smite crazy, thin sorority girls. Ann Coulter set to pledge next week.

* New William Carlos Williams poem discovered. Millions of English majors make jokes about grocery lists and cold fruit in hopes that someone will catch reference, give social approval.

* Creators of Geico cavemen to make even more money annoying the fuck out of me.

* This last item is actually important: 30 Rock will return from its scheduled hiatus earlier than expected, moving to 9 p.m. starting Thursday, April 5.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Girl Nerds in History: Eleanor Roosevelt

Who's the only woman to be the wife and sixth cousin of one U.S. president and the niece of another? No, this isn't the set-up for a Jeff Foxworthy joke. It's just a nutshell description of America's favorite First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Wife of Franklin "I can't walk but I can still swing" Roosevelt and niece of Teddy "Look at my shiny teeth and jaunty hat" Roosevelt, Eleanor made a name for herself after her husband's death in 1945 as a fervent advocate for America's downtrodden and vocal supporter of the civil rights movement, helping bring issues of inequality and prejudice to light in an era when most women simply kept quiet. She also was active in international issues, chairing the first United Nations Human Rights Commission.

That would be enough of a legacy for most tall women, but Eleanor took it to the next level by becoming a fictional character after her death, thanks to son Elliott's foray into mystery writing. In the 1980s and 1990s, he wrote a series of best-selling novels in which his mother solved gruesome crimes in the White House. With titles such as "Murder in the West Wing," "The White House Pantry Murder" and "New Deal for Death," you've got to believe that Elliott had a pretty thick FBI file somewhere.

But enough about the crazy son. Instead, let's give a big old nerd salute to Eleanor -- beloved first lady, humanitarian and kick-ass crime fighter.

Study of un-read books attractive mauve slipcover!

Some quantifying British people have compiled a list of the top books people buy but never read. The list includes some non-shockers, including Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and James Joyce's Ulysses, which I'm not even convinced Joyce ever read. Also, apparently David Beckham wrote an autobiography, which shocks me more than the idea that no one read it.

The two most "huh?" parts of this study were one, that other people in the world besides me have trouble finishing Harry Potter books. And two, that people freely admit they buy books for decoration with no intention of ever reading them at all. Seriously? People do this? I mean, I buy books and then never read them but I always at least intend to read them. But really, just for decoration? Does that mean people just buy red books one day or blue books? Does Martin Amis making the best-seller list have more to do with whether or not the dust jacket matches the new mocha suede sofa? And if so, shouldn't Pottery Barn have a book section?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Honorary, imaginary girl nerd leadership role FINALLY filled -- and not by Scooter Libby

The Israelites had Moses. The Canadians had Tim Horton. Now girl nerds have Tina Fey.

We liked her snarking it up on SNL. We liked her in Mean Girls. And now? We love her in 30 Rock where she's turned girl nerdness into an art form. Like macrame or tracing pictures of horses. She is, quite undeniably, the well-dressed epitome of girl nerdness.

This is why The Park Bench Crew has decided to make Tina Fey our honorary, imaginary chairnerd. Anyone who concocts a character like Liz Lemon who wakes up with food in her hair, worries about her boobs falling out of low-cut dresses, outs herself by talking up Heroes in a roomful of hipsters and accidentally makes out with her cousin not only deserves our attention, she deserves our allegiance. You say jump, Tina, and we'll say, how high? And then we'll probably think about it for a really long time and ultimately decide not to jump because it seems like an awful lot of effort and that Beauty and the Geek marathon just started and we already jumped once last week. Just know, though, that we were totally there for you in spirit. Viva, Tina, and welcome to the club.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Girl Nerd Call To Action

For too long, the girl nerds of the world have been ignored and dismissed. We have been shunned and cast aside. We have been mistaken for geeks, a term which seems to indicate some sort of technological dexterity which you and I both know is completely not us. We have been mistaken, too, for losers, which we are not although secretly we lack the confidence to believe that with 100 percent certainty.

That time has passed. Today marks the dawn of a new era. No longer will we stand silently on the sidelines. It is time to unite -- and stand silently on the sidelines together.

From East Coast to West Coast, from Canada to South America, from the U.K. to the country just east of Russian that no one can really spell, from Japan to that island where Lost is filmed -- all across the globe, girl nerds should take this moment to embrace their girl nerdness and shout to the heavens, "Yes, I know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, and I am proud!"

We at The Park Bench hope you will join us in celebrating the girl nerd way of life and all the sedentary joy it entails.

Now go read a book or something.