Monday, June 30, 2008

Origins: Made of Awesome.

Games, games and more games. That pretty much sums up the Saturday full of awesome that I had at Origins, the humongous five-day, 24-hour-a-day game fair held this past week in Columbus, Ohio. The husband and I attended on an invitation from Park Bench reader Trey, who was incredibly nice and throws a helluva great game fair.

I should come clean right off the bat and admit that I don’t know a lot about gaming. Monopoly is about as advanced as I get. I know nothing about role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons or card games like Magic and I’m not the world’s greatest Settlers player either. All of which means I was totally amazed at the enormous variety of great games that exist and were on display at the event. I had no idea I could have been having so much fun all these years!

Truly, the best part of the day was getting to meet the different game designers and testing out their creations. Some of my favorites included:

* Looney Laboratories’ not-yet-released "Monty Python and The Holy Grail" Fluxx card game. This game is a blast and basically involves a set of ever-changing rules, which means that no two games are ever the same. The Holy Grail version, which will be out this fall, incorporates wonderfully detailed bits from the movie – in order to win the game, you’ll find yourself doing everything from searching for the Knights Who Say Ni to singing songs from the film to to brandishing ridiculous accents to earn more cards. It’s a simple game but addictive – the husband and I bought Zombie Fluxx and played it the minute we got home. It really is a perfect party activity and trust me, you’ll kick ass if you know all the words to the “Brave Sir Robin” song. Available at

* The Game of Redneck Life, which seems so, so wrong but is so hilariously executed it can’t help but be endearing. Basically, it’s like the game of “Life” but instead of finishing with the most money, the object is to finish with the most teeth. I am not lying. We had such a good time talking to the designer – she had us laughing the whole time as we chose which trailer we wanted to live in and what career our 8th grade education could earn us. This is no doubt what America’s elitists play when they mock America’s heartland. Yee and haw.

* AmuseAmaze is a great game for anyone who likes Scrabble or its crack-fueled cousin Scrabulous. It involves creating words on a board in order to maneuver through a maze and be the first person to reach the goal line. The board is comprised of interchangeable pieces so there are thousands of different iterations, meaning the word creation options change all the time. The husband and I played the two-person version and had a lot of fun. I get the sense though that it would be even better with four to six players. You can learn more about it here.

If you are a fervent gamer and would like to meet up with other fervent gamers, I get the sense that there is no better place to do that in the country than at Origins, which was filled to the rafters with people rolling dice, throwing down cards and doing many, many things that I totally didn’t understand but that looked really fun.

I was hugely impressed by some of the elaborate gaming boards on display. For one thing, there was a bad-ass Godzilla:

There was a lot more where that came from, too. We saw elaborate aircraft dogfights being staged, chariot races in a hand-crafted Roman colliseum and much, much more.

And if you got frustrated after losing one too many Magic matches, there was even an area where you could faux-fight and pelt people with foam-covered swords. It looked pretty awesome:

I’ve saved the best for last. There was a giant Pikachu strolling the exhibition floor. I nearly died. I know nothing about the game; all I know is that this giant yellow pseudo-rodent has had a magnetic hold over me for years now. So much so, that I may have scared the PR person escorting the giant foam creature when I exclaimed, “Oh my God, there is a giant Pikachu and it is the most awesome thing in the world!” Below you will see my husband sneaking in for a photo-op with the nice person in the Pikachu suit:

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Origins event. If you like games even remotely, I urge you to check it out. And prepare yourself for Pikachu because it is the most awesome thing in the world.

News of the Day -- June 30

+ Apparently, today is Superman's birthday. This io9 item gives a pretty good rundown on why he's not having such a good day. Happy birthday anyway, big guy!

+ Looks like there's a "300" sequel in the works -- first as a new graphic novel penned by Frank Miller and then as a film. Yay for the novel, but sweet Jesus, won't anyone in Hollywood make a movie that's not inspired by a comic book or a graphic novel or isn't a sequel? Please? I just want a little variety. Is that too much to ask?

+ Speaking of sequels, the trailer for the new James Bond flick is up. Check it out for many shots of Daniel Craig pursing his lips and looking sardonically confused. Le rowr.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nature. What's that all about?

It’s summertime and it seems like everywhere you turn, someone is planning a trip outside. Like outside where nature is. Neighbors are going camping. Friends are going hiking. I drive down the street and see people engaging in this bizarre activity called “gardening” or “caring for their lawns.” And I feel just a tinge of regret. Why? Because my nerdy nature has denied me a relationship with Mother Nature.

As a child, I used to play outdoors just like all the other kids. Except playing outdoors meant playing in the shed in my neighbor’s yard. I simply had to walk through nature to get there. I used to ride my bike, too, but that was just to get from one person’s nice, enclosed house to another. And camping for my family always meant staying at a Howard Johnson’s where we could see trees from the closed window.

I don’t know why I didn’t get into nature or doing things outdoors. I suppose it’s because “Ultraman” was never on TV outside. My books weren’t outside either. And there seemed to be a lot of bugs and dirt, two things I could never much tolerate.

Also – and perhaps this is the most important reason of all – people get eaten by animals when they’re outside. I was convinced for many years that Great White Sharks were only pretending to be water-dwelling creatures and could, at any time, fall from the sky and consume me. (See photographic evidence below of shark at take-off.) Giant shark-shaped clouds wreaked havoc with my psyche for years and FYI, there are more giant shark-shaped clouds than you would imagine.

Bears were also a concern. Yogi Bear looked friendly but what happened when he ran out of PB&Js? In my heart I knew: first he would eat Boo-Boo and then he would eat me, that feral son of a bitch.

Don’t even get me started on the possibility of man-eating robots. Or government officials. “Soylent Green” was no secret to me.

No, I was not the smartest child.

I just feel that with the impending doom facing the planet in the form of global warming and other devastations including but not limited to floods, famine and locust (which I think are a type of kangaroo?), I should try to get to know the old girl before it’s too late. With that in mind, I’m dedicating myself to spending at least a few hours outdoors each week. Of course, that time will be spent rolling around like a human hamster in a giant clear bubble impenetrable by aquatic and/or ursine creatures. As they say, old habits die hard....

News of the Day - Friday, June 27

+ I give you...behind the scenes photos from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along. Nathan Fillion will never not be awesome:

+ Guess I was wrong about "Wall*E." The critics have got me all excited about it now. Women. We're so flighty!

+ Check out this list of the Ten Coolest Battlestar Galactica collectibles. I'm "meh" on most of them, but I deeply, deeply want some of these posters:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

News of the Day -- Wednesday, June 25

+ The Saturn Awards were announced yesterday with "Lost" receiving most of the love. And Jennifer Love Hewitt as best TV actress for "Ghost Whisperer?" I'm confuzzled.

+ Check out these six cool concept bikes from I think I've had dreams about the square-wheeled one...and those dreams were not good.

+ Seriously, I worry about this stuff. Apparently, other people do now too: some funding is now being shifted toward developing technology that will prevent gigantic asteroids from crashing into Earth and snuffing us all, dinosaur-style.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

News of the Day -- Tuesday, June 24

+ Via Ain't It Cool News, a preview write-up of J.J. Abrams' fall pilot "Fringe," a sci-fi FBI show. By all accounts, it sounds pretty awesome. Thanks to Alyson for the tip!

+ If you're in the Columbus, Ohio area this week, don't forget to check out The 2008 Origins Game Fair. It's a huge, five-day, 24-hour a day gaming event starting tomorrow and running through Sunday. The husband and I will be checking it out this weekend, and I'm totally looking forward to it.

+ Report from the LA Film Festival on The X-Files panel with Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz and the luscious Mr. Duchovny. I wasn't really that thrilled with the clip they described. It made me just a tad bit worried about how good this movie is going to be. Honestly, though, who cares about quality at this point? I just want my two favorite FBI agents on the big screen again.

+ Top Ten British Crop Circles! This alien wants us to recycle:

(Okay, it's not an exact recycling symbol but it looks pretty darn close, right?)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Reality Shows I’d Like To See

It seems like everywhere you look on TV these days, there’s a reality show grimacing back at you. With a steady, bland diet of dance competitions, Nashville singing competitions, quiz shows and dating shows, though, the networks are playing it too safe. If they’re going to force feed us hundreds of hours of soul-sucking reality programming, let’s at least try take it to the extreme and scrape as hard along the bottom of that barrel as we can. In fact, here’s a few productions I’d like to see:

“Off Her Meds and Off the Record: Carrie Fisher Spends An Hour Blurting Out Whatever Comes Into Her Head”
Like having the Oracle of Delphi in prime time.

“Deer Fight Back”
Spin-Off: “Wild Turkey Ain’t Just a Beverage”
We arm the wildlife during hunting season. Hijinks ensue.

“Joey Fatone Sits In His Bathrobe Dialing Wrong Numbers”

Will he remember Justin Timberlake’s phone number? Tune in and find out!

“You’ll Never Guess What I Stepped In”
Pedestrians and their shoes.

“How Much Cake Can I Put In My Mouth Without Suffocating?”
A game show for those with a sweet tooth…and an enormous gullet.

“Postmodern Paparazzi”
People taking pictures of people taking pictures of people. Hosted by the ghost of Gertrude Stein.

“Watching My Cat Sleep”
Like Meercat Manor but completely lame. Except during sweeps month when we film her sleeping with her tongue half out of her mouth. Totally cute! LOL!

But enough about me. What shows would you like to see?

News of the Day -- Friday, June 20

+ A list of the Top 30 WTF Moments From "Lost." I contend it's the sign of a good show when you can have at least 30 WTF moments in a four-year run.

+ Check out this hilarious look at what would happen if gamers invaded message boards with the same passion for cooking as they show for, well, games.

+ Here's a rundown of just a few of the panels and films that will be part of the upcoming San Diego Comic Con. It's times like these that I wish I lived about 2,000 miles closer to the Pacific. Is anybody here going?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Possible Reasons Why I'm Being a Total Bitch To You Right Now

Yesterday at work, some guys were talking about how women can, at times, go completely and inexplicably insane. That got me thinking about the utter confusion that seems to beset most men when women get crabby. Like when Senator Clinton got huffy on the campaign trail, why did news outlets seem so shocked? Dudes, she's a woman on her feet all day. You're not shocked when the Wal-Mart clerk explodes. Why are you shocked now?

In an effort to expedite understanding between the genders, I offer this primer on reasons why women can, from time to time, get really cranky:

1) My hosiery is too hot. I guarantee you that at least 90 percent of the rage incidents involving women (and a fair number of men) result from uncomfortable hosiery. It's true. Just ask Margaret Thatcher before the Falklands War. Yeah. And in fact, Bruce Banner's original trigger was an itchy pair of L'Eggs, but Edward Norton was too much of a puss to portray it on screen.

2) My thong is riding up. Ever since The Man convinced America that visible panty line was worse than leprosy, more and more women have resorted to the Draconian underpants known as thongs. These things are like living, invasive creatures, and we cannot control where they go. Just think about that for a second.

3) My DVR erased the entire season of "Top Chef" before I could watch it.
Yeah, honestly, it seems trivial but it's totally going to fuck with my brain chemistry. I sit down on the couch. I have a bag of popcorn in one hand, a bag of Nutter Butters in the other and I'm ready for some competitive cooking only to discover that God has wiped it from my DVR. Some Earth-bound, non-celestial sucker is going to have to pay for this and it might as well be you.

4) I haven't eaten in 17 days. Or at least it feels that way. Go to enough business lunches and social gathering where the other women shame you into not eating T-bones and it means you'll have to survive on salad alone. And men should know that eating salads is the equivalent of sucking air only the air is filled with roughage and gives you gas. Trust me, you wouldn't be smiling either.

5) These heels are so pointy, they have pounded my knees into my intestinal cavity.
I don't even care whose fault this is. When my feet get that crucified feeling, I'm going to lay hands on whoever's closest.

6) Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" got cancelled. I've been pre-emptively angry for months now.

7) Neil Patrick Harris continues to be gay. The dude side of the genetic tree produces Neil Patrick Harris and then you keep him to yourselves. Way to be selfish, guys.

8) I just don't like the looks of you. You seem shifty. And would it kill you to wear a tie to dinner?

9) You just slept with my best friend favorite author Cocker Spaniel Neil Patrick Harris sister and are lying about it. What did the dog ever do to you?

10) The office clothes horse just told me I look "cute." The remark comes from a woman wearing leopard skin. She looks me up and down, does one of those fake Gwyneth Paltrow smiles and tells me I look cute, which is woman talk for "what the hell are you wearing?" Thoughts of "Wild Kingdom" come to mind and I find myself hoping a pack of hyenas will descend and savage her. Sadly, this does not happen and my only defense is "Yeah, well...." And then I drink.

News of the Day -- Thursday, June 19

+ How come I didn't know about this? Apparently, there are hundreds of bands expanding a new music genre called Wizard Rock based -- you guessed it -- on the Harry Potter stories. There are festivals and everything!

+ "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Empire Strikes Back" screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan is set to pen the upcoming Robotech movie, which will be produced by Tobey McGuire among others. Robots and Kasdan -- a match made in heaven. Thanks to Kimberly for the tip.

+ CNN had a disturbing article up the other day on how your high school social status may affect your professional life in the future. As if being elected homecoming queen each and every year wasn't bad enough, it appears as though cheerleaders also have a leg up on corporate success and are highly likely to end up in vice president positions. On the plus side, 12 percent of former student government participants ended up making $100,000 a year or more. Model UN ruuulez!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News of the Day -- Wednesday, June 18

+ This is such a weird headline from MSNBC: "Eight Great Extinct Species." In my head, I want to finish that sentence with "...That Taste Great Together" but that seems even more wrong.

+ David Sedaris answers Ten Questions for Time Magazine. Has anyone here read his new book yet?

+ An interview with my straight girl crush Mary McDonnell.

+ Did anybody else catch AFI's "Ten Top Ten" special last night on CBS? It was their ranking of the ten best films in ten different genres. I contend that they were high and stupid with half the lists -- "City Lights" as best romantic comedy? Really? Yes, it's a great, great movie and one of the classics of all time but "romantic comedy"? Over "It Happened One Night" and "Annie Hall"? Can you hear my voice getting higher and higher with indignation? Dogs hate me right now. Oh, also, including "Harold and Maude" on the romantic comedy list? What the hell? (Spoilers ahead) Again, it's one of my all-time favorite movies but let's stop and think for a moment about the premise of this film: young man obsessed with death falls in love with free-spirited Holocaust survivor who kills herself at the end! Ah, yes, that one has romantic comedy written all over it. I can see Anne Hathaway in the remake now....

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nerd Man of the Month: Patrick Stewart

Please forgive me for bypassing the democratic process and going all dictatorial for this month's Nerd Man honors. I just couldn't let another month go by without honoring one of the gods of nerdiness, Patrick "my voice is like soft British butter" Stewart.

There's so much to love about Patrick Stewart. First, check out those biceps! Holy cow, they're like a force of nature! And I bet he makes the "gun show" joke constantly. Oh, also, he's a really good actor. From his role in "I, Claudius," where he rocked a tunic, sandals AND a toupee like a champ to his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (aka "the best Star Trek") to his role as Professor Xavier in "The X-Men" films, the guy is a stud of the nerdy genres.

In all seriousness, Stewart deserves kudos for taking the cheese out of "Star Trek" and bringing a much needed gravitas to the role of Picard. He made you care about the Frenchman and the duties he shouldered. (Just an aside, if Picard was French, why did he have a British accent? Does this confirm my suspicion that in the future France will get completely drunk and let England invade with nary a watery burp from the masses?) And anyone with a pulse would have wet themselves just a bit in Star Trek's "Best of Both Worlds" episode when Stewart turned to the camera, all Borg-fied with that little laser light strapped to the side of his head and intoned "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile." I get a big nerd shiver just thinking about it.

Stewart then went on to do "The X-Men" series of films and continues to do stellar work, most recently appearing on Broadway in "Macbeth." And who doesn't love his "A Christmas Carol" one-man show?

Frankly, it all boils down to the voice. Yeah, he's a good lookin' dude. And yeah, he made bald and middle-aged sexy. But that honey-sweet voice with its deep melodious tone...well, let's face it, nine out of ten women would buy anything that man is selling. Let's all go smoke our cigarettes now, shall we?

News of the Day -- Tuesday, June 17

+ Sad news yesterday: special effects giant Stan Winston passed away at the age of 62. Without Winston, films like "Jurassic Park," "Alien," and "Terminator" would have lacked that awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping quality that made them so special.

+ "The West Wing"'s Janel Moloney has apparently been cast in the Tommy Schlamme-directed ABC pilot "Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas," Zap2It! says it's the story of "a girl who discovers a magic book that leads to a world beneath the Earth's surface."

+ Entertainment Weekly offers "Battlestar Galactica: 12 Things We Learned This Year." Number Three: Starbuck can be really annoying. Well, duh. Okay, also, does EW online do anything but make pop culture lists these days? I'm not complaining or anything, 'cause it gives me an excuse to post this photo:

Aw, man, those kids sure love their literature, don't they?

+ And finally, check out these cool roller coasters from Wired. My brain is vomiting in glee just thinking of these things:

Monday, June 16, 2008

A circus? With celebrities? Sign me up!

You know how all I ever talk about is “Battlestar” and “Lost” being the two greatest TV shows ever created in the history of the world ever? Yeah, I was totally wrong about that. Last week, I discovered the ultimate in TV entertainment, courtesy of NBC. It’s name? “Celebrity Circus.” Yes, my friends, it’s a circus with celebrities, and it is exquisite.

In this show, various celebrities have signed on to learn circus skills with which they can impress the judges and earn the right to stay on the show for another week. I have no idea what the ultimate prize is. Self-esteem maybe? I can’t be sure. The circus skills are truly death-defying: in last week’s episode, I saw “Jackass”’s Wee-Man run around on a giant wheel – basically, a human hamster wheel, which if you think about it is totally insulting to hamsters. Then I saw someone who I think was a singer dress up in a really gaudy costume and writhe around on a rope…with a harness on. Then I saw an Olympic swimmer – who, in costume, looked hilariously like Amy Winehouse – do some other scary rope tricks…with a harness on. The best thing about all this death-defying activity was that I had no idea who half these “celebrities” were and therefore was not even remotely invested in their success or survival, really. Although I do like Wee-Man. He kicked ass on that show where he, Erik Estrada and LaToya Jackson trained to be cops in rural Indiana.

Yes, I watch bad reality TV but I like to think I have standards: I only watch the very worst in reality TV.

But back to “Celebrity Circus.” The highlight of the evening was seeing middle-aged man-whore and former “Brady Bunch” star Christopher Knight actually break his arm while embedded in some huge, rotating pseudo-Hula Hoop and then totally man up and learn how to walk a tight rope with a girl on his shoulders…in a harness! While dressed in what looked to be velvet. That right there is a feat. Velvet is very hot and constricting, I would guess. It would make it really hard to walk on a tight rope if, you know, you weren’t attached to a harness with 17 nets and your crazed wife below you.

As a child, I loved Christopher Knight. In the Pantheon of Hot Siblings On TV Shows Filmed Before I Was Born, he was a solid runner-up behind champ Tony “Le Rowr” Dow aka Wally Cleaver on “Leave It To Beaver.” But man oh man, watching Chris engage in ridiculous behavior on VH-1 the last few years has really soured me. So much so, I decided after “Celebrity Circus” to give his Pantheon place away to Jimmy “J.J.” Walker of “Good Times” fame. I hate to be so rough but maybe it’ll be the thing that finally turns Chris around.

While it doesn’t have the cultural heft of, say, a “Battle of the Network Stars,” “Celebrity Circus” is one of the most inane, ludicrous, stupid things I’ve seen on television in years which means I will watch it religiously until either A) it ends B) it gets cancelled or C) host Joey Fatone gets eaten by a lion. You can guess which option I’m hoping for, right?

Friday, June 13, 2008

News of the Day -- Friday, June 13

+ Unicorns, baby! We got unicorns in the news. Sadly, none of them are ridden by Neil Patrick Harris. No, this is a deer with a honkin' huge horn on his forehead. The other deer just look at him and kinda point their hooves at his forehead and mutter, "Dude, you got something...right there...on your...nevermind."

+ Apparently, the sea life's been whoring it up again in Georgia. This time, it's an unmarried male sea dragon announcing his pregnancy. Although his mother is very disappointed in him, having reminded him that other sea dragons "will never buy the cow if they get the milk for free," conservationists are pretty happy since these dudes are highly endangered. Way to go, McTrampy the Sea Dragon!

+ Moleskines and iPod Touches: put 'em together for an extra dollop of coolness. Everything's better with Moleskine! (TM me)

+ A disturbing rumor about the new "Office" sequel. Unless you're a huge Rashida Jones fan, in which case let me amend that to say, "Hey, great news about the new 'Office' sequel!"

+ If anybody goes to see "The Incredible Hulk" or "The Happening" this weekend, let me know how it is. I'm trying to decide if I should spend my hard-earned coin on either of them or just go see "Sex and the City" sarcastically instead.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Soon Alex will be my BFF...

Thank you every one for the good "Jeopardy" wishes the other day. Would you like to know what happened? Is it okay if I tell you anyway? Here's how it all went down: Tuesday night, the husband and I drove four hours to Cleveland* for the audition, arriving after midnight, road weary and starved. We were saved by a delivery from Fabio's Pizza, which, shockingly and yes, disappointingly, is not owned by this guy or this guy's man-pecs:

I then spent most of the night waking up, worrying that I'd missed my testing time because, yes, I think I'm smart enough to audition for "Jeopardy" but am still intimidated by the unfamiliarity of hotel alarm clocks. Anyway, I managed to get up on time and make myself presentable. We headed over to the Cleveland Renaissance Park Hotel, the husband made himself scarce and I started filling out my paperwork. All the contestants, or as I like to call us, "honking huge trivia nerds," then had our photos taken and by "photos taken," I mean we were individually put up against a wall and captured with a Polaroid. Mine ended up looking something like this...

...but less dignified.

All of us then gathered in a small conference room where the contestant scouts chatted with us and generally made us all feel calm and welcomed with their awesome friendliness. Seriously, you wanted to go out and have an iced tea with them and, you know, maybe commiserate together about how Fabio didn't deliver your pizza last night.** After a few minutes, they started explaining the different kinds of questions asked on the show and we got to answer some samples. No buzzers were involved. We just raised our hands and I immediately became the obnoxious classroom suck-up who has to raise their hand the highest and telepathically plead with the authority figure to call on them BECAUSE I KNOW THE ANSWER, GODDAMIT! IT'S NERO! CALL ON ME NOW BEFORE MY SOUL EXPLOOOOOODES!

And that is why I did not get asked to prom.

Anywho, when we finished with the practice round, we got to take our written test. And yes, when I say "got," I am equating it with the same happy feeling that arises when you "get to" go out for ice cream or snuggle with Wolf Blitzer. I enjoy answering questions. It's totally a social validation for me. Or, as some would say, a sick compulsion. Whatever.

After the test, three of us at a time went up to the front of the room for practice rounds. I got to hold a buzzer, my friends, and it was awesome. I rang in like a champ and got a whole bunch of answers right. Or at least I think I did. Standing up in front of 20 people and playing faux "Jeopardy" in front of real, live TV producers gave me self-conscious tunnel vision. I checked when I sat down though and am 99 percent sure I did not wet myself at any point in the process. Woot.

Unfortunately, there was also a point where I had to tell people about myself and say what I did for fun. Everyone else waxed poetic and normal about golf and gardening and playing with their kids. Me? "I write a blog for nerdy women." And I got the response I usually get: some laughter (which is a good thing) and then a sort of dubious, crickety silence (which is not so much a good thing). In retrospect, I knew I should have told the story about lifting my skirt over my head as a six-year-old in front of a mall full of people. It's totally classy and humanizing! Maybe next time.

And then, two hours after it had started, the whole shebang was over. Honestly, it was a blast and if you ever have the chance to audition for "Jeopardy," absolutely do it. Whatever happens in terms of getting chosen or not, it's just a really fun experience. The people who run the auditions are great and so are the other applicants. I even met a real live pool hustler! I don't get to do that every Wednesday. As it stands, I don't know if I'll ever get the call to be on, but as the sad, sad Academy Award nominees disengenously say every year, it was just an honor to be nominated.

Also, our day ended with a stop at Tony Packo's hot dog place in Toledo (as made famous on "M*A*S*H) so it was win all around. Fried pickles make every day like Christmas!

ETA: My husband just reminded me that I didn't actually say if I got accepted or not. Apparently, I'm in the contestant pool and have roughly a 25 percent chance of being called at some point during the next 18 months. If I do get the call, you'll all be the first to know.

* Cleveland is, by the way, just as fabulous as "30 Rock" made it out to be last year, although I was disappointed no one came up to me and asked if I was a catalog model.
** Not a euphemism.

News of the Day -- Thursday, June 12

+ Did you see Maureen Ryan's column on the similarities between "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica?" I especially love that they both have "Directional Catch Phrases" with Jack's "We have to go back!" on "Lost" and Starbuck's "We're going the wrong way!" on BSG. Hee.

+ Check out this gorgeous and wonderfully whimsical art -- including an anatomical look at a Gummi Bear (below) -- by Jason Freely at Moist Productions. I love his balloon animal images, too.

+ Pilfered from Pop Candy, have you seen this great site called Black Cab Sessions, which features pop acts performing in the back of a London black cab? It's chock full of terrific, intimate performances from acts such as Death Cab For Cutie and My Morning Jacket.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'll take French Canadians for $400, Alex.

Tomorrow I'm auditioning for "Jeopardy." This is my second attempt so I'm feeling cool and confident, trusting that I will have learned an enormous amount about science by watching "Bones" DVDs for the last two weeks and an enormous amount about geography by getting lost in Brooklyn for an entire day last weekend. Still, though, I have my fingers crossed that I will only be tested on the following categories:

Battlestar Galactica
My Childhood
My Best Friends
Foods That Are Nearly As Good As Pie
That Time I Got Lost In The Met
Horse Racing
Why David Duchovny Is Hot
Obscure Roman and Greek Trivia That Only I Know

Any advice for a would-be contestant? Any important trivia items you feel I should know before the big test? Please share!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Me and cosmetics: like putting pants on a cat

Every time I try to strike up a mutually beneficial relationship with cosmetics – you know, I buy you, you make me look better and improve my self esteem (much like the relationship between sugar daddy and trophy wife) – I realize that my efforts pretty much amount to putting pants on a cat: it seems like a good idea at the time but ultimately, it’s not any where near worth the effort.

I was thinking about this last week after going to a wedding where I quite possibly managed to make myself look halfway decent. Let me underscore the term “halfway” because really, I don’t want you to think I’m being coy and humble. It really was “halfway,” like two steps to the left would have turned me into Tammy Fae and two steps to the right would have turned me into Charlize Theron in “Monster.”

The problem is that I don’t know how to use the tools. Set lipstick, eye shadow, foundation, mascara, concealer or eyeliner in front of me, and there’s at least a one in six chance I’ll end up either gouging my eye out or accidentally eating something. It’s like putting clay in front of someone with no hands or paints in front of a blind lady. Except in those instances they have a fair chance of at least creating abstract art, something which is rarely if ever appreciated in the application of make-up. Which is totally unfair.

I’ve read manuals. I watch Carmindy work wonders on “What Not To Wear” and yet my years of just not caring and figuring, “Eh, good enough,” have taken their toll. I’m inept! I missed the learning curve years that start at 13 when you and your friends are accidentally applying enough eye shadow to look like 87 year old retirees without realizing it. But it’s okay because everyone in your class is doing it, and there’s Humiliation Safety in numbers. It’s how the government has functioned all these years.

In part, I blame my complexion (for the make-up thing, not for our government). My complexion has flummoxed me for years. I have what’s known as an olive skin tone. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great things about this skin tone, the best of which is that I rarely get a sunburn and no one ever says, “You look pale.” So thumbs up. The fact of the matter is, though, that make-up is designed for pink ladies. Yes, it’s true. Make-up is designed for women with those baby pink complexions that look great with any lipstick or blush. And I hate them. Because you know what happens when an olive-toned person applies blush? You don’t think, “Wow, that pink woman has a really healthy glow.” You think, “Wow, that olive skinned woman smeared an orca’s worth of blush all over her face. Is she drunk? I wonder if I can take a picture with my cell phone without her noticing. Of course I can. She’s drunk!” Or, um, so I would imagine.

I’ve basically given up at this point. A little mascara here, a little lipstick there, a longing glance at the blush counter every now and again – that’s my relationship with make-up. And I’m okay with it. Mostly. Sometimes. Usually. From time to time, though, I do wish I could enslave the good people of “What Not To Wear” and force them to help me achieve world domination through the awesomeness of my wardrobe, hair and make-up stylings. That’s not weird, right?

News of the Day -- Monday, June 9

+ Whatever else you do today, you have to read this great article on William Shatner from MSNBC. It's alternately hilarious and endearing.

+ A fancy-pants new version of the iPhone is being announced today. Seriously, that thing is the worst example of me wanting something that I don't need just because it's really, really pretty. Kind of like how I sometimes want Justin Timberlake.

+ An interesting look at Al Franken's run for the U.S. Senate. I find it funny that Minnesota, a state that elected Jesse Ventura as its governor, is having trouble taking Franken seriously.

+ And finally, will someone please talk me down from my new, deep-rooted fear that President Roslin's not going to make it to the second half of BSG's season in '09? Must remember...fictional characters...not real....ok, that totally doesn't work.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

News of the Day -- Thursday, June 5

+ This is equal parts morbid and fascinating: Top Ten Scientists Killed Or Injured By Their Experiments.

+ Johnny Depp and Tim Burton together again -- this time with vampires...maybe, possibly! Rumor has it that Tim Burton is going to undertake (see what I did there?) a new telling of the 1970s horror soap opera "Dark Shadows." Wishful thinking (and past track records) suggests that Depp might take on the lead role of vampire Barnabas Collins. Fingers crossed and recrossed...

+ Found via The Modern Gal, this great preview for the new Coen Brothers movie called "Burn After Reading." Brad Pitt cracked me up through the whole thing. I'll be standing in line for this one:

+ And finally -- and perhaps most importantly of all -- the Detroit Red Wings are the 2008 Stanley Cup champions! Can I get a "woo" and a "hoo," please?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

News of the Day -- Wednesday, June 4

Back from a whirlwind trip to New York that included a wonderful wedding, kangaroos in Prospect Park (okay, the Prospect Park Zoo), an actual argument about "Transformers" and a multi-hour traffic jam convoluted enough to make Rube Goldberg cry. But enough about me. On with the news...

+ There's all sorts of wonkiness going on with BBC's Torchwood and its schedule for the coming year. Five episodes shown over five days. Huh. Color me confused....

+ Jenna Fischer was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" yesterday. If you're wondering if you should spend 37 minutes listening or not, just know that "Fischer talks to Fresh Air about her abortive career as a member of an all-girl singing group (which turned out to be a front for a high-priced call-girl ring), and about her very first screen role — in a sex-education film made especially for just-released mental-health patients."

+ Two reviewers at Ain't It Cool have given some enthusiastic thumbs up to Pixar's upcoming, "Wall-E," a film my cranky curmudgeon side is having trouble getting ramped up for. I love robots as much as the next girl, but I feel like something's missing. Probably dinosaurs or monkeys. I'm just demanding that way.