Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What We've Learned From the Horror Classics

Aliens: Guys, just leave the planet ALONE! See also: every other sci-fi space horror movie ever made.

Halloween: Trick or treating is safe; babysitting is not. In fact, at four bucks an hour, it's murder!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: “Don't mess with Texas” is NOT just a suggestion.

Hostel: Room rates that cheap? There’s always a catch.

Friday the 13th: When it comes to a choice between playing a competitive board game or sleeping with Kevin Bacon, always choose the board game. Top prize for the winner? Not being eviscerated.

The Shining: Six weeks with Shelley Duvall will DRIVE YOU INSANE!

Psycho: The fastidious always get whacked a.k.a you don’t have to shower EVERY day, lady. It's bad for your roots.

The Amityville Horror: No matter what the asking price, a house with bleeding walls is NOT a bargain. Unless it's in a really cute neighborhood.

Dawn of the Dead: When you see a zombie lumbering at you at .002 miles per hour, DON’T stand around and wait for it. It’s not coming at you for a tickle.

The Thing: When traveling to the Antarctic always bring the following items -- sweaters, hot cocoa, one or two huskies, a good pair of boots, and oh yes, your own personal airplane to escape in when murderous parasites take over your colleagues. Also, marshmallows for the hot cocoa.

By Ms. C and Liz

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Odds and Ends

+ Looking for a last-minute Halloween escape? Check out's list of Thirteen of the World's Creepiest Places. I'd never thought of Easter Island before but after thinking about it, I guess it would be rather scary...especially when you heard the whir of the spaceships coming back to collect their lawn art! And swamps like the one pictured? Well, the scariness factor just goes unsaid.

+ Official word has come down that The X-Files 2 movie will start filming on December 10. Chris Carter is directing and it's being shot in Vancouver, which made my little X-phile heart twitter nostalgically. I always loved the Vancouver era the best.

+ Rupert Grint, aka Harry Potter's Ron Weasley, could show Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears a thing or two about blowing their hard-earned cash on things other than, you know, blow. According to Park Bench reader Annie's blog, Grint got creative with his earnings, buying one of these:

On Ain't It Cool News, he was quoted as saying he wanted to continue acting, but “if it doesn’t work out I still have the ice cream van, I suppose.” I love that kid.

+ And finally, The Park Bench reached 25,000 visitors last night. Reader #25,000 was a poor confused person from Kitchener, Ontario, looking for a way to make risotto who instead found a treatise on angry Gordon Ramsey. I hope he or she enjoyed their .4 seconds on the site! In all seriousness, thank you to everyone who reads this crazy thing. I appreciate it.

+ And finally, finally, what's everyone going to be for Halloween? Please share.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dating and the Single Girl Nerd: First Dates

From contributor Ms. C:

One thing our lovely already-coupled friends like is to remind us of is how great it's going to be to have that "first kiss" again. In the hunt for that "first kiss" we have to do things like go on dates, or, even before that, meet someone. All of a sudden, this got so complicated!

Fret not, there are several ways in which to meet a nerdy fellow. There's online dating like, a dating website for geeks where nerdy women get the choice of their personal cup of Earl Grey. Do you take your geek with "Star Wars," Ren Faire or Manga? Eschewing online tete-a-tetes, you could meet guys at bookstores, coffee shops, or costume parties and woo them with your uncanny imitation of Patrick Stewart or your extensive knowledge of all the James Bond movies. You could also try the old-fashioned way of dating: macking on your friends. There's also the workplace, but I don't recommend this one. You need at least one place you can still go without worrying about how you look, right?

Don't be discouraged if you go an entire year without racking up "50 First Dates" like Drew Barrymore. As the brainier version of those with Nerve, we Girl Nerds tend to wait a little longer till we're met with quality. For the average Single Girl Nerd, a year of looking for that "first kiss" will tend to yield about 5 First Dates which will likely include:

+ The blind date with the "sweet, sensitive guy who also rides a hog" whom your married friends think you'll like. Blind dates should always be accepted with a hearty YES. They have the advantage of no expectations and no ties should one need to run, fast and far.

+ The sneak-double-date with that recently-single friend in the Styx-inspired band. You'll have a nice dinner with friends and then see a Simon Pegg movie, all the while never letting your date suspect he's actually ON a date. You are that good, you sly Single Girl Nerd.

+ The party date. Though not strictly a traditional date situation, this counts. Be sure to try all your "lines" (don't forget to pack the Superman joke, the Anais Nin mention, and the "Reaper" quotation!) on tall, skinny guys wearing glasses.

+ The cooking date. Cook something simple -- and easy on the garlic and onions -- for that adorable web-designer with the comics collection. It won't hurt either to pour healthy glasses of wine while trying to make your way into a gent's heart through his stomach.

+ The Grown-Up Date. You will put on a skirt and heels! He will take you to an upscale restaurant that requires reservations and he'll order for you! There will be no cheese-fries, "hanging out," or catching a cup of coffee while paying Dutch. This will set a new bar for dating and you deserve it!

With these, and hopefully more, you'll be ready to start trying for Second Dates. Not even Drew got that far!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Broomstick Riding 101? Intro to Eye of Newt?

According to UPI, a group of Wiccans in Rossville, Illinois are starting a witch school. Shockingly, the town folk are not taking it well. Probably because the curriculum's a little subpar:

The school is based on teaching basic Wiccan beliefs, along with other unusual fare, such as aromatherapy and zombies.

Aromatherapy and zombies? That's awesome. And handy! But how do you teach zombie? Is it a language course? If so, I'm guessing it's the class all the slacker witches take. "Dude, it's totally easy. You know what the zombie word for 'car' is? 'Aaaarrhhhhh.' You know what the word for 'zoology' is? 'Aaarrrrhhhhh.'"

Says the local youth minister:

"Rossville has fallen on hard times....The (public) school closed. This is a popular place for meth. We're like, 'Great, now a witch school.' It feels like we're being attacked."

I'm sorry. I know it's mean, but that one line, "Great, now a witch school," just cracks me up. Just wait until Samantha Stephens starts bewitching it up with Willow Rosenberg. There's good times ahead, Rossville!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thank God for self-adhesives, I'd feel weird licking his back

The U.S. Postal Service giveth and the U.S. Postal Service taketh away. On the same day this little dude made his debut on a U.S. stamp...

...the postal service pulled the plug on these equally diminutive but less hairy dudes:

In the coming weeks, all R2-D2 mailboxes are going to be taken off the streets and sent to military bases overseas, where I assume they'll spy on the enemy and deliver cryptic messages starring shimmery little Carrie Fishers.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Odds and Ends

+ Good news for fans of Nick Park and dogs that can knit: a new Wallace and Gromit movie is in the making and scheduled for release in the fall or near Christmas of 2008. It's a mystery called "Trouble At' Mill and it involves baked goods.

+ Just in time for Halloween, has their list of the 70 best vampire movies of all time, which begs the question, who knew there were 70 vampire movies? Also, "A Vampire in Brooklyn?" Really? Really?

+ Also getting their Halloween spirit on is TV Squad, offering up their list of the Ten Scariest TV Characters of All Time. I can assure you that it is an accurate list as it includes the one TV monster that literally scared me stiff as a child: the gremlin on the wing of William Shatner's plane in The Twilight Zone's Nightmare at 20,000 Feet episode. The second I saw that thing as a seven year old, I was petrified, thereby establishing my street cred as queen of the big loser scaredy-cats.

+ Speaking of television, "Stargate: Atlantis" has been renewed for a fifth season.

+ If you like video games (like Nintendogs!), then hopefully you were at the first annual E for All gaming convention in Los Angeles last weekend. This New York Times article has a nifty recap of the show, which is meant to be an "everyone's welcome" equivalent to E3.

+ And if you ever dreamed of having rooms and rooms full of books like all the wealthy manor owners in those old movies, The Strand bookstore in New York can help you out. I did not know this, but The Strand sells Books by the Foot, and will create ready-made home libraries and also builds on-set libraries for the movies including the new Indiana Jones flick. Now's your chance to squeeze the equivalent of the entire Library of Congress in your own apartment -- and you don't even have to do the heavy lifting yourself. Talk about service!

+ And finally, if anyone out there is going to The Office convention and gathering in Scranton, PA this weekend, please let me know. I'd love to get some first-person reports for this blog on all the fun goings-on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Planet Terror: What the hell was that all about, and why am I still laughing?

You know what you don't see a lot of these days? A would-be stand-up comic mowing down flesh-eating zombies with her machine gun leg.

Yes, I just saw "Planet Terror," the Robert Rodriguez-helmed half of "Grindhouse," the double feature project he did with Quentin Tarantino. Now before I delve too deep into this freaky movie, I should just 'fess up and tell you that I slept through Tarantino's half, "Death Proof," although my husband assures me it was really good, with "lots of good Tarantino dialogue and an awesome car chase at the end."

I knew going into "Planet Terror" that, being a Rodriguez/Tarantino production, I should psychologically prepare myself for geisers of blood and bursts of exploding pustules, much the way the people in the front row of a Gallagher concert wear plastic bags to protect themselves from exploding melons and the shame of actually being at a Gallagher concert. So basically, I was okay with the severed limbs, the exploding chest cavities, the melting flesh, the gun shot wounds and the impalements - mostly because they were done in such an outrageously cartoonish fashion that even I, the gore coward, could handle them. Trust me, they were so outlandish that even Sam Peckinpah, master of violence, would have just shaken his head and pointed a finger at Rodriguez and Tarantino and said, "Aw, you kids with your squibs!"

Beyond the gore, "Planet Terror" was pretty damn funny with that gallows humor that makes any Tarantino or Rodriguez production simultaneously entertaining and uncomfortable. Our main female character, Cherry Darling, played by "Charmed"'s Rose McGowan, is wonderfully over the top. The exotic dancer has dreams of becoming a stand-up comic...until her leg gets ripped off, thereby setting up the lame (if you'll pardon the pun) running joke of the stand-up comedian who can't stand. "Cripple jokes are funny," her boyfriend tells her. Did I mention this is a Tarantino production?

The fun thing about this movie is its utter ridiculousness. It's pacing is frantic and bang-bang-bang. You can almost hear the maniacal laughter of the director as he zooms through the script, skittering around corners and bumping into walls on his way to a whiz-bang finale that just makes you sit there and go, "Wow." The visuals are terrific, too, done in the over-saturated color palette of those 1970s low budget flicks that we all run into on a Saturday afternoon from time to time.

So if you like big action, uncomfortable humor and don't mind seeing Quentin Tarantino's extremities melt in front of your eyes, then this is the movie for you. I know I'm still laughing....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Razor" reviews and a chance to see it on the big screen

There's a very thorough and cool review here of the upcoming "Battlestar Galactica" TV movie "Razor," which makes its Sci-Fi Channel debut on Nov. 24. I'm really looking forward to this movie A) because it's the only BSG we'll see before January 2008 and B) because it expands the story of The Pegasus and C) because it includes Michelle Forbes, who I've loved since she played Ensign Ro on "Star Trek: TNG."

Here's a "Razor" teaser, just to whet your sci-fi whistle:

According to Maureen Ryan's TV column in The Chicago Tribune, there's even more good news on the "Razor" horizon. There will be free screenings of movie on Nov. 12 in eight U.S. cities: Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Chicago. If you live in one of those cities and would like to attend, you have to register at The site goes live this Friday, and registrations will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Nerd's Eye View: Fantasy Football

By contributor Ms. C:

Have you tried Fantasy Football (FF) yet? I started playing in a Ladies Only League this year and I can't recommend it enough for my fellow Girl Nerds. As a generally brainy bunch, our interests usually drew us to the libraries, debate clubs, or the high school radio station, not the playing fields, gyms or locker rooms. Even those of us who enjoyed watching sports, whether on TV or from the sidelines, usually didn't partake in actually playing "the sports," as the jocks called it.

Whether you hated sports, watched it from afar, or only missed joining the soccer team because of your knobby knees, FF provides endless entertainment for the nerdy mind. Whether your skill set includes role-playing games or just painting your boyfriend's orcs, fantasy football allows you to compete through what are basically online and television paper dolls without breaking a sweat or your new pair of glasses. Also, you're welcomed into an activity even jocks enjoy and if you play completely online, they need never know about your comic book collection.

Fantasy Football also rewards the nerd at heart because doing your homework and a little bit of research makes you more knowledgeable about your players, able to add versatility to conversations with non-nerds, and more skilled at smack talk; always a boon.

Like Zeus in "Clash of the Titans," you'll place your clay figure in the dollhouse temple and watch him go. Except you'll be online, sans toga, putting your fake Tom Brady head-to-head against your matchup on Aragorn's Army or The Asscats or whatever your opponents' teams are called. Embrace your destiny and get in the game. It's easy, it's fun, and it rewards statistical acumen. And you'll know you're hooked when you switch from Meerkat Manor to ESPN's Sports Center "just to check something."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ten Great Nerd Couples

In honor of Sweetest Day, which is tomorrow and which I recently discovered is mostly a Midwestern phenomenon invented, no doubt, to make us feel better about being stuck in the goddamn Midwest, I've compiled a list of Great Nerd Couples. I know I'm probably forgetting some biggies -- I tend to do that, like when I'm in a meeting and try to make a list of all the United States in my head but always end up forgetting the one in which I actually live. Anyway, this is just a little smorgasbord of fictional love, meant to bring out the Cupid in all of us. If, of course, your Cupid watches sci-fi and likes English literature.

Elizabeth and Darcy / Pride and Prejudice

Miscommunication, repression, awkward social moments -- that's what love is really all about, isn't it? Jane Austen certainly got it right with Pride and Prejudice. Few novels portray the silly awkward dance of brain-crunching confusion that permeates just about every romance -- fictional or non-fictional -- that ever was or will be. Plus, any story that gets turned into a movie with Colin Firth wins points in my book -- yes, even Bridget Jones' Diary.

Hermione and Ron / Harry Potter series

Thank God Hermione was in charge of this romance or things never would have gotten off the ground. As clueless as Ron may have been, at least he recognized the value of a good, smart -- very smart -- woman. I'm glad they finally got rid of that pesky third wheel, too. What was his name? Harry something....

Bones and Booth / Bones

Bones and Booth. Is that a great name for a saloon or what? As characters, these two have a nice ying-yang of geek/non-geek going on as well as a gift for significant glances and engaging banter. And as much as we loved Boreanaz as Buffy's broody boyfriend Angel, isn't it nice to see him undead and cracking jokes in the sunlight? It makes him look taller, I think.

+ Jim and Pam / The Office

These two are sweet, sweet wish fulfillment for anyone who's ever had an office crush. (And yes, I'm talking to you. I see how you look at the guy in accounting. Go ahead, give him an invoice...if that's what the kids are calling it these days.) Seriously, wouldn't work be wonderful if we all had someone fun to share it with? Jim and Pam make us wistful while also making us laugh, whether it's recruiting Dwight for the CIA or faxing him from the future. Good times...

Han and Leia / Star Wars

And at this very moment, millions of pre-adolescent girls across the globe learned that kissing is in no way icky, especially when it involves Harrison Ford.

Lois and Superman / Superman

Sure, Lois was always kind of mean to Superman's nerdy alter ego, but you've got to admire the commitment of these two crazy kids. Decades worth of comic books, three TV series, more than a half dozen movies -- that's sticking with it for the long haul. Plus, the guy made the Earth spin backwards just to save her, even though she was played by Margot Kidder. If that's not true love, I don't know what is.

Wash and Zoe / Firefly

Probably the least dysfunctional and therefore most doomed of all the Whedonverse romances. But hey, we enjoyed our toy dinosaur-loving, spaceship-flying, slightly jealous Wash and his patient, quietly sarcastic and decidedly deadly mercenary wife Zoe while they lasted. Yup, it was all sunshine and puppies until the whole "I am a leaf on the wind" debacle, which I now think of whenever I see drifting foliage. Thanks a lot for ruining fall for me, Whedon!

Mulder and Scully / The X-Files

Ah, the classics. Mulder and Scully were the standard bearers of great nerd love. Him, all crazy, anti-social sexy loner guy with the raging persecution complex. Her, the brainy scientist with an uncanny ability to run in high heels, get kidnapped and traumatized and never, ever get to be right about anything. What does it all add up to? Love, baby. Or at least the tacit suggestion of such after nine long, frustrating years. This was a Chris Carter show after all.

Beatrice and Benedick / Much Ado About Nothing

This is where we class the joint up, what with the Shakespeare and the iambic pentameter and the well-managed cleavage. Beatrice and Benedick earn nerd romance honors for their simple elegant snark and for the beautifully contrived crossed-wires that keep them at arms length while the younger, less interesting Hero and Claudio sort out their feeble swooning. The old saucy couples are always, always more fun than the dull pretty ones.

Adama and Roslin / Battlestar Galactica

Speaking of old saucy couples, we've got these two who basically have "tragedy ahead" stamped all over their foreheads. First their home planet gets nuked. Then they find out there are only 50,000 humans (soon to be less) left in the universe. Then they get put in charge of the whole mess. Talk about pressure. Top it off with Roslin's cancer and that whole "dying leader" prophecy and Adama's hard drinking and tendency to grow pornstaches, and you've got a recipe for some sad days ahead. Let's hope they get at least a few quiet moments together before the world ends -- again.

And on that note...Happy Sweetest Day everyone!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's never too soon to shop for Shatner!

With the holidays coming up, it's never too early to put together your wish list or start planning gifts for the cool, saucy nerds in your life. May I just suggest that everyone buy at least one copy of this?

It's called The Shatner Show, and I found it on a nifty blog called SFBayGirl. The book, which is published by a Canadian design company called Upper Case, features 76 images "inspired by the life and career of Mr. Shatner" as well as a slew of quotes. And let's face it, wherever and whenever Shatner quotes are involved, there's going to be some fun . The book retails for $35 and can be purchased here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Endorsing America's Next Top President -- with free bonus book review included!

Stephen Colbert announced his candidacy for President of the United States last night, and The Park Bench would like to hereby officially endorse the good man as its number one choice – nay, its only choice – for the job. We issue this endorsement not only because we respect his manly coiffure and panther-like prowess behind the anchor desk, but also because we feel this is the safest route possible in the event that the Colbert Nation actually takes over the nation. Which, if they move very quietly and without any sudden movements, is entirely possible. So I hope Future President Mr. Colbert will remember who his friends were in the early dark days of his campaign when no one but his mother and millions and millions and millions of rabidly loyal fans were behind him.

And since we're sucking up to Colbert anyway, I may as well share my thoughts on his best-selling tome, I Am America and So Can You. But before I do, let me just take a moment to high-five the creators of the Barnes and Noble discount card for saving me a whopping $12 on this beauty. It was a moment of gorgeous frugality and one I’ll likely never forget…until the day I save $13 on something.

Anyway, back to the book. It’s very good, very entertaining and very funny. Parts of it lag, but that’s just the way it is with any humor book. You’ve got to give folks a respite from laughing at insulting the elderly and Colbert's (written) cries of “Baby carrots are making me gay!” So with that in mind, the book definitely satisfies…yes, just like a Snickers.

I Am America owes a lot to the usual “this is my political philosophy, aren't I awesome” books that politicians and pundits like to cough up like so many hairballs every election cycle. It also owes a lot, though, to John Hodgman’s Areas of My Expertise with its willingness to just shoot manically and without reason from subject to subject with breathtaking ease and hilarious results. And I love the margin notes, which perfectly mimic the point/counterpoint of the nightly The Word segment on "The Colbert Report."

The book is a well-written, perfectly toned exercise in absurdity, something which I hope real politicians will aim for in the future. It would make this whole process a lot easier.

So, both of my thumbs are up in the air, wavin' like I just don't care, for I Am America and So Can You. And, by the way, if you’re waiting to buy the soft cover, don’t, because there are lots of very cool unexpected extras in the hardcover, like a sign you can put in your window alerting firefighters as to how many copies of I Am America and So Can You are in your household and in need of rescuing before and/or in place of your pets and children. You know John Grisham is kicking himself for not thinking of that one first....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In which my credibility disappears like a bark in the wind

What do millions of pre-teen girls and I have in common besides, of course, our unsavory affection for Shia LaBeouf?

We play this:

Yes, I’m dead serious.

Before you judge me too harshly – and let’s face it, I deserve to be judged for this – let me explain. I’m terrible at video games. I mean, really bad. I lack the patience for RPGs. I can’t push more than two buttons at a time which means I can’t play any sports games except Wii Tennis and that just basically involves me waving my arms around. And while I enjoy shooting aliens as much as the next girl, I can’t play first-person shooters because I get motion sickness. Really. The one time I beat my husband at Capture the Flag in “Halo,” I had to lie down on the sofa until the nausea passed.

So you can see my gaming abilites are dodgy at best.

Here’s the other thing. I’ve always wanted a dog, but for various reasons, it’s just never happened and likely never will. For one thing, my cat would go all Predator on a dog and I’d likely just find a bloody collar hastily stuffed in the couch cushions while she whistled an unconvincingly innocent tune.

So when I saw Nintendogs, well, you can understand how one thing led to another. I rented it from Blockbuster this past weekend, suffering the snotty look of disapproval from the college kid behind the counter. I tried to come up with some feeble story about renting it for a non-existent niece but he had that “the lady doth protest too much” gaze going on and I knew he wasn’t buying it.

Anyway, once I got the game home and “purchased” my new Welsh Corgi and named her Waffles (after Diane Keaton’s dog in “Manhattan”), none of the shame seemed to matter anymore. At first, I felt a little ridiculous saying, “Waffles, come here” at the Nintendo DS. But when she came running up to me and put her perfectly-rendered little paws up on the screen and looked at me, oh man, I was a goner. I was making dinner with one hand and using the stylus to scratch her imaginary stomach with the other, and was shocked and utterly humiliated to hear myself cooing, “Who’s a cute little puppy? Who likes the tummy rubs? Who likes the tummy rubs?”

The game, as such, involves training the dog to obey your commands. But basically, I just spend hours playing fetch with it, blowing bubbles at it (which actually involves blowing at the screen and kinda freaks me out because I can’t quite understand how that would work and it seems like magic must be involved somehow), taking it for walks, and yes, scratching its tummy.

I feel like a total loser, but dear God, the dog is adorable. I’m going to have to buy this game because damn it, if loving Shia and Nintendogs is wrong, than I don’t want to be right!

More cow bell...sadly is not included here

If you have a few minutes at lunch today and would like to take a stroll down a weirdly, messed-up memory lane of Christopher Walken bizarreness, may I suggest checking out this article at It's basically "Christopher Walken Sells Out In Odd, Sometimes Disturbing Ways," all helpfully encapsulated in about six YouTube clips and a slew of funny captions, courtesy of Daniel Murphy who writes a wonderful blog called [redacted].

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Tree Hugging Is Cooooool!

I can feel the dark blazing eyes of My Political Boyfriend Al Gore (TM) on me right now as I realize I forgot to do my part for Blog Action Day, a world-wide effort to get thousands of bloggrs to post on one subject: the environment.

My soapbox is low to the ground, and I'm afraid of heights, so I'll be quick and just say I hope anyone reading this will take just a few minutes today to think of one thing you can do to conserve energy or help clean up your corner of the environment. Whether it's recycling your coffee cans, swapping out your regular light bulbs with some energy-efficient bulbs, walking to the video store to rent "Transformers" rather than driving, visiting sites like or just making a date with a friend to watch "An Inconvenient Truth"...and spend the next week freaked out about the impending demise of the polar bear (Trust me, I've done that...and I think I just freaked myself out again.), it all helps.

When I first got converted to my current semi-tree-hugger status, I tended to panic and think, "What the hell can I do to help the environment? It's too big a problem. There are too many SUVs trying to run me over!" But we can make a difference if enough of us try. It's easy to do...just simple choices one at a time. They all add up.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for listening -- or reading. You know what I mean.

October Nerd Men of the Month: Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement aka Flight of the Conchords

This month's Nerd Man column is by regular contributor Ms. C.:

Again, we have a duo, but this duo is also a band. And chicks love guys in bands. The Flight of the Conchords is your new heart-on, Girl Nerds. Bret McKenzie and “Eagle vs. Shark’s” Jemaine Clement obviously do not take themselves too seriously and are willing to look and sound silly, just to delight you. They take unplugged folk music comedy to the next level, (Level II, I think that is) in their savvy HBO show where they play themselves, living in the Big Apple, singing original songs throughout each episode.

Here, Jemaine plays David Bowie appearing to his roommate, bandmate, and best friend Bret in a dream, after trying to help him gain some confidence.

Jemaine and Bret are both good-looking gents who have the ability to make the other one look more attractive. They are a handsome ping-pong game when they stand too close. And just when you thought you’ve seen how hot they can be, with dark hair, smoldering eyes, and guitars in hand, they open their mouths to sing and reveal sexy New Zealand (It’s not in Australia!) accents. The New Zealand (Land of Hobbits and Elves) accent combines the knee-weakening effects of the British timbre with the rebel-twist of an Australian articulation, making every girl nerd, no matter her type, want either Jemaine or Bret to just talk to her. Just…talk. But they’ll do more for you, baby. They’ll sing playful and dynamic comedy folk music, sometimes even rapping to Eminem’s shame. As Jemaine warns in "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros," his rhymes are so potent, he makes all the ladies in the area pregnant.

But that’s OK, because he sounds like he’d be a great boyfriend:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lessing and the Nobel Prize

Doris Lessing never won me over with her fiction, but she sure as hell came pretty close with her reaction to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday. The scene, as reported by the Associated Press, went a little something like this:

Reporters opened the door and told her she had won the Nobel Prize for literature, to which she responded: "Oh Christ! ... I couldn't care less."

But then she softened up and went with some good, old-fashioned humility:

"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."

Brilliant! Seriously, if I was an 88-year-old fiction writer who'd toiled for years simply to please crowds of academics and then suddenly -- boom! -- I'm the bell of the ball with a $1.5 million check in my pocket and the world's microphone in my face, I'd be feeling a bit saucy, too. You can tell she's a minx just from the way she's sitting:

The one thing that did seem to excite Lessing was the idea that her books might attract a new and perhaps larger audience.

"I'm very pleased if I get some new readers," she said. "Yes, that's very nice, I hadn't thought of that."

Now that's endearing. I'm going to go buy one of her books tomorrow as a show of solidarity and a firm admiration for anyone who can shrug their shoulders and say, "Eh, whatever," to greatness.

Dear Pivo 2, you befuddle yet intrigue me

I don't quite know what's wrong with me, but I think I want this car:

It's a new electric concept car from Nissan called Pivo 2. I don't know what happened to Pivo 1. I assume it's being driven by Willy Wonka or living in a Miyazaki movie.

The British paper, The Register, quotes Masahiko Tabe of Nissan's advanced vehicle department group, as saying, "You can go everywhere without worrying about your driving skills," which is certainly a load off my mind.

The car also includes a Robotic Agent, which will converse with the driver to help make "every journey less stressful," says the Nissan press release. It would be like having your own English-speaking R2-D2 crammed into your dashboard. Which is to say, it would be awesome.

The Register adds:

The Robotic Agent apparently integrates various technologies, not least the ability to monitor the driver's face to detect undesirable conditions such as road rage or unconsciousness. It can then respond with helpful or soothing suggestions and chitchat.

"Are you sleeping? There's a cafe 500m ahead," the dashboard droid might chirp, in a case of doziness at the wheel. It wasn't clear from the report whether this was meant in the sense of "You look like you could do with a coffee," or "Holy shit, you're going to hit that cafe".

There's a video out to promote the new car, but I'm fairly sure whoever produced it was high enough to embarrass the ghost of John Belushi. It's by far the most unenthusiastic, sleep-inducing, Kubrikian promo I've ever seen. Check it out for yourself...and be sure to have a pillow handy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday tidbits

* The release yesterday of Stephen Colbert's new book, I Am America and So Can You! has meant a wonderful flurry of interviews with the man himself, including a terrific one he did yesterday with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air." It's 48 minutes long, but it provides great insight into how "The Colbert Report" is done as well as some interesting details on Colbert's infamously awesome White House Correspondents Dinner performance. If you don't have 48 minutes to spare and would rather skip ahead to my favorite part (and who wouldn't?), go to the 45th minute of the interview and hear Colbert talk about trying to convince Henry Kissinger to say the words, "Where are my pancakes? I was promised pancakes." Colbert's Kissinger impression is brilliant.

* In other news, Variety is reporting that Eric Bana will play the villain Nero in J.J. Abrams new "Star Trek" movie. I hope this Nero character is actually supposed to be the Roman emperor of the same name so that we can have some cool time travel and see Spock wearing a toga while listening to some inexplicable hippie music -- just like a real episode of the original Star Trek! My fingers are crossed....

* A wealthy dude with money to burn ponied up $250,000 for the first issue of the "Batman" comic. He hasn't actually read it yet. I'd be afraid to read anything I just paid $250,000 for, too. One good sneeze and you erase $50,000 off the resale value. Talk about pressure.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Luddite? Only when it comes to books.

Much like a small child or befuddled squirrel, I am enchanted by shiny objects. The Borders bookstore nearest me has decided to tempt me with a new shiny object, called The Sony Reader Digital Book. For $299, I could buy this pseudo-PDA that's about the size of a thin, trade paperback and stash more than 100 full-length books on it so I could read anything I wanted anytime, anywhere. Did I mention, too, that it’s shiny?

As appealing as the gadget is – it would definitely be easier on my back than cramming 75 novels into a carry-on bag – it brought up a pseudo-philosophical quandry for me: is reading too personal an act to leave to a machine? Now, you’re probably pointing at your computer screen right now, saying, “Hey Squirrel Woman, aren’t you already doing your reading on a machine?” Well, yes and no – also, I can’t believe you just called me Squirrel Woman. We’re supposed to be friends here! Anyway, certainly I get most of my news online and, um, all my web sites ‘cause that’s where they live. And I do all my reference material reading online, and I even look at pretty art online, but all that seems vastly different to me than the act of reading a book.

Books, to me, have always been like friends. (Which should tell you something about my social life.) They delve so deep into the mind of the author and the world that person has created, they can’t help but take on a life of their own. I feel like being able to switch between a hundred or so books with the click of a stylus would strip away part of that humanity and more importantly, that intellectual intimacy. There’s something about reading Tolstoy that says, “This is between you and me, Leo.” And I like that.

I've already given up vinyl records and CDs in lieu of my iPod and abandoned the multi-colored ink smears of a New York Times Sunday Magazine in favor of my laptop. But give up the heft and gloss and smell of a good paperback novel? Even if I had the $299 to buy that pretty, shiny Sony Reader, I just don't see it happening. Besides, how the hell would I dog-ear a titanium page?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Is that a gun in your hand, President Roslin, or are you just happy to see me?

Found on the Television Without Pity boards, a preview for the new season of "Battlestar Galactica." Enjoy it now before it makes one of those magical YouTube disappearances!

Pretty cool, huh? All I can say is, "Oh my." And yes, my girl crush on President Roslin is still very much alive.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Nothing says Christmas like Sweeney Todd

You know the holidays are nearly upon us when creepy new Tim Burton movies start appearing. The trailer for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is out. Sadly, I've heard rumors that Anthony Stewart Head's role was cut, but with Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Johnny Depp in the cast, I'll still survive.

Friday Nerd News

* Next to a pony or Joss Whedon or a pick-up truck full of gold, this is what I would want to see most in my front yard:

Yup, it's a 21-foot-long X-Wing...that actually flies. They strapped a four rockets onto the back of it and are going to shoot it off and hope it lands in one piece. If not, Frank Oz has promised to come out, shove a Yoda puppet onto his left hand and mentally will the thing out of whatever Dagobah swamp it lands in.

* Speaking of real life space adventures, there's this rather nifty interview with Sir Arthur C. Clarke on the 50th anniversary of Sputnik and the future of space travel. Sadly, the first thing I thought when I saw the article was, "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is still alive?" D'oh! My nerd card is totally going to get revoked.

* Word on the street is J.J. Abrams will be producing a new show for ABC. I don't know how to break this to you, but it's, uh, about a notary public. If they add the words "on a mysterious island in space with spies and Victor Garber" after "notary public," I might watch. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.

* I swear I will stop talking so much about "30 Rock" soon, but I've got to just one more tidbit that's making me shiver with glee: my political boyfriend and soon-to-be Nobel Prize winner Al Gore is going to be guest starring on a future episode. I can't get cancer from snuggling with my TV, can I?

* And finally, did you know that Wikipedia has an entry for "nerd girl"? Neither did I! Apparently, we're "a stock character of late-20th and 21st-century fiction." (That punctuation is their fault, by the way.) Also, we have the following characteristics:

- often wears eyeglasses, which typically have large lenses and thick frames - in comics, particularly, this is an easy shorthand way of indicating that a character is a Nerd Girl. [Also, arrows and small labels reading "Nerd Girl" are effective.]

- dresses unfashionably, not as a statement but because she doesn't care about fashion. Typically her clothes will be loose and comfortable; they may be somewhat "young" for her. This should not be confused with dressing in alternative or eclectic fashions such as indie, goth, or bohemian, although in recent years, some nerd girls (especially self-styled), have begun doing so in an attempt to generate a more interesting outward image. [Okay, sure, why not?]

- wears her hair in unfashionable styles (such as a ponytail or pigtails; while male nerds have messy hair or flattops, sometimes with hair gel)[You know, maybe some of us just have arms that are too short to effectively blow dry the back of our hair. I'm just saying...]

- is obviously intelligent [Duh.]

- is fascinated by some area of knowledge, usually cultural, liberal arts and humanities as opposed to science and tech-related fields of the male nerds.

- is not popular [Hey, I have plenty of friends. Sure, they're online but still...]

- is not considered conventionally attractive (exception: male nerds)[Why, I oughtta...!!!!]

- is shy and may be somewhat socially inept in groups [I've always thought my social anxiety disorder gives me character.]

- uninterested in and unskilled at sports (distinguishing her from the tomboy) [Much the way a porpoise is distinguished from a dolphin or a Mary Kate is distinguished from an Ashley]
Despite all these negatives, we're also known to be "kind and good-hearted, passionate about causes, feminist or post-feminist, possessed of good one-on-one interpersonal skills, aware of our own emotional states and, yes, small in stature.

And there it is. If you could all try to conform to these traits, it would be much appreciated. We have to stick together because it's the only way we'll become cultural stereotypes. After that, the world will be our oysters, and I'm fairly sure we can become archetypes. And you know what that means? The ghost of Joseph Campbell will LOVE US FOREVER!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Liz Lemon's Top Nerd-tastically Nerdy Moments

In celebration of the return of "30 Rock," here's a look at some of Liz Lemon's best nerd-defining moments:

"I'm going to gut you like a tauntaun!"
Liz Lemon loves her "Star Wars" and she's not ashamed to flaunt it! She smacks down Jenna every time she mistakes a certain "trekking of the stars" for "Star Wars," and she's not afraid to threaten Kenneth with a good tauntaun-style gutting when he won't reveal Tracy's whereabouts in "Hiatus." And best of all, she compares her fear of meetings with Jack to Captain Needa's fear of, well, getting dead with Darth Vader:

"Those shoes are definitely bi-curious."
Who among us hasn't been mistaken for a lesbian at least once? Jack Doneghy falls for the old stereotype that frumpily-dressed women are gay, which, as a side note, is a total disservice to the multitude of hot, well-dressed lesbians out there. Judging Liz by the bi-curious look of her shoes, he sets her up on a blind date with a gay woman. For any nerdy woman who has ever had to explain that wearing flats doesn't necessarily mean they eschew the dudes, this was pure gold.

"Are they still in there?"
Every once in a while, a comfortably dressed nerdy woman gets to don the glamorous duds. Liz gets that chance in "Black Tie," accompanying Jack to one of the social events of the season. Liz's gown and her ongoing reactions to it account for at least half the laughs in this brilliant episode. From putting the dress on backwards to wearing a polar fleece over it ("I didn't know I'd be going out...") to making a walk down a staircase look like a tense high-wire act ("Careful, careful...") to forgetting about her plunging neckline, doing a happy dance and immediately worrying that the girls had flown out, she's living every nerdy woman's anxiety-filled dream of dressing up pretty. Of course, she ultimately loses that dress by taunting a crazy, bottle-wielding Isabella Rossellini. Just like prom!

Everybody loves Gopher!
You know how when you meet a good looking guy, you lose all ability for coherent, rational thought? Yup. In "Fireworks," Liz pretends to be an alcoholic in order to get close to her NBC crush, Floyd. In order to even the score after Floyd learns the truth behind her tall tale, Liz admits to all of her own deepest, darkest secrets. And, well, there are some things you just don't want to know about your favorite fictional characters:

Making flannel sexy
In "Corporate Crush," Liz shows how nerdy women can bring the sexy back -- by dancing in flannel pajamas, waving around a used Kleenex and seductively bending over to turn on...the humidifier. We knew Floyd was a keeper when he found that sad display just as endearing as we did.

The nerdy woman's perfect date
Liz nearly found true love with Floyd, a man who knew just how to please a nerdy woman -- with card games and by mocking bad movies. Ah, Floyd, with your love of the flannel sexy dance, you were one of the good guys. Fictional Cleveland is lucky to have you.

"Yeah, suck it, I do read the paper!"
Here's a tip: hell hath no fury like a nerdy woman scorned. When one of her writers, Josh, tries to negotiate a huge salary increase and ends up humiliating Liz in the process, well, she gets her revenge -- by making him do The Worm, among other cruelties.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lots and lots of television

I will admit it. I get all giddy when a new TV season starts. I didn't get to watch as much TV last week as I wanted to, but alongside all my regular favorites (Welcome back, "Office," hello, Americanized "Kitchen Nightmares"), I checked out three new shows. The results made me think of Goldilocks: one show was "eh," one was just right and one show was so bad it made me want to throw a bowl of porridge at a dead Grimm brother.

So let's start with the mediocre. That'd be "Bionic Woman" also known as "The Battlestar Galactica Dinner Theatre Troupe Joins Every Other Actor in Vancouver For An Unnecessary and Ham-Fisted Remake." Aside from the always good Katie Sackhoff, there's just not much to recommend in the pilot episode. It wasn't really bad, but there wasn't much life to it. Incredible things happen, but in the presence of undeveloped characters, they don't have an impact. This is not to say it can't get better, but so far, I'm unimpressed -- except for the scene where Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers wakes up and finds herself attached to two swanky new bionic legs. The CGI in that scene is so bad that it makes Ryan's calves look huuuuuge, which meant I couldn't stop laughing when she screamed because I was thinking, yeah, I'd scream too if my boyfriend just gave me fat bionic calves. What am I going to tell the other girls at Weight Watchers?

I'll probably give "Bionic Woman" another try if only to see my BSG friends. Who knows? It could get bionically awesome...but with fat calves.

Now let's zoom a little further along the spectrum and discuss "Big Bang Theory," CBS' contribution to the recent "nerds are now officially awesome" phenomenon.

Honestly, this show is terrible. It's very, very bad, like "Phantom Menace" bad. The show revolves around two socially -- and potentially, mentally -- handicapped physics geeks who live across the hall from a hot, nice blonde girl who is stereotypically dumb but still nice enough to hang out with the geeks. They sit around and spew pop culture references at each other, including such tell-tale nerd buzz words as "Klingon" and "Battlestar Galactica" (see above). I imagine the two guys and the girl will eventually teach each other valuable life lessons. And I imagine the fake studio audience will sigh sweetly when it happens. And I imagine if I'm in some sort of "Clockwork Orange" torture scenario being forced to watch "Big Bang Theory," I will likely gag. But let's hope that doesn't happen.

All the actors seem to be trying, including the always likable Johnny Galecki of "Roseanne" fame. It's just that the material is incredibly degrading to its already two-dimensional cultural stereotypes. I guess I shouldn't expect anything else from the network that gives us "Two and a Half Men."

Luckily, the week was not a total wash, although it was something of a shocker to find that TV salvation came from The CW. Yup, I'm talking about "Reaper." I enjoyed the hell out of this show (pun intended) which tells the story of a young man named Sam whose parents sold his soul to the devil. Now, he has to work with Satan to send escapees from hell back where they belong. Bret Harrison as Sam is entirely likable and fun to watch as is his sidekick Tyler Labine, whom old school "X Files" fans will recognize as The Toad Licker from the Quagmire episode. Labine is channeling just a bit too much Jack Black for his own good, but I think he'll grow into his part. Ray Wise as the Devil is good, too, portraying The Naughty One as an easy-going fellow just doing his job. What makes the show appealing is its sense of humor and fun. I sat through most of it with a big goofy grin on my face because, honestly, nothing makes me happier than a TV show that combines comedy and sci-fi: my two favorite genres rolled all into one!

So, if you haven't seen Reaper, check it out tonight at 9 on The CW.

Monday, October 01, 2007

In Which I Make Fun of Stupid Girls

This past Friday night, I learned something -- in today's society, there are two kinds of women: those who will go to singles bars and drunkenly hump a strange man's leg on the dance floor...and those who will simply point and laugh. I am one of the latter.

My husband and I went to a bar with his father on Friday night to hear a guitarist. It was a nice place, good food, good music, up until around 10 o'clock when it became the most depressingly raging singles bar I've ever seen.

Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe it's a nerd thing. Whatever the reason, I live a fairly quiet life and when I go to bars, it's usually to socialize with friends, watch sports and/or just drink like a Bukowski character. It's not to..what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yes: solicit.

I was embarrassed for my gender. Tramp stamps everywhere, super tight jeans, pencil-thin heels, cleavage exploding out of t-shirts I'm fairly certain were manufactured for toddlers and the kind of sad make-up jobs that would make any self-respecting drag queen say, "Really? Are you sure about that?"

That wasn't the sad part, though. The sad part was watching them all standing at the bar as if they were in a police line-up or waiting to get picked for dodge ball. They all had these hopeful, if not glazed, looks in their eyes, mentally pleading, "Choose me! Choose me!" And yet the men kept walking by.

A lot of the girls put in a good effort. There was the blonde who stood on the edge of the dance floor with her breasts stacked in front of her like two apples on a chin-high tray. Eventually, when no one came up to talk to her, she just started looking down at her cleavage sadly, as if chastising it for a job poorly done. Then there was the small brunette girl who danced with six or seven different guys, which is great. Good for her. Except when I use the word "dance," I mean she was pulled drunkenly out onto the dance floor where she mounted her partner's thigh and then seemed to lose all muscle control, flailing her arms and legs around like the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz," if he were, you know, humping a guy's leg to techno.

I'm not saying all this to be mean. Okay, I'm saying a little bit of it to be mean, but mostly I'm saying it because I felt embarrassed for my own kind. There was no individuality, no self-respect, no dignity. And it should be pointed out that the one women in the bar who was surrounded by men the whole night was a girl wearing glasses and having an actual conversation. Score one for the fellow nerd. I would have waved at her in unity, but I didn't want to ruin her mojo.

I think this may be what separates the nerdy women from the rest of the pack. Sure, we may lose our capacity for speech or fall down in the presence of attractive men, but nine times out of ten, we'd rather make that kind of spectacle of ourselves rather than the kind that was going on in that bar. In general, I believe nerdy women date with dignity. It may take us a while to find our prince because we're not trolling every Saturday night, but when we do, we know he'll be a guy who respects a woman, especially one in glasses.