Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: movies on ice, The Prisoner, crafty Romans and love

+ Here's a list of "The Best Big-Screen Geek Girls," which immediately starts off by cheating and including Felicia Day's Codex character from "The Guild" because they wish she'd be on the big screen. Now, it's true that Day is Queen of the Geek Girls and ten kinds of awesome, but c'mon, geek girls don't cheat!

+ Speaking of "The Guild," the first and second seasons were released in one DVD package yesterday and are now available in retail stores. Hopefully, the rest of the world will now catch on to this great series.

+ How awesome is this? To celebrate the 20th Stockholm Film Festival, organizers will be showing films on a full-sized movie screen made entirely of ice. The ice is being harvested from ultra-clear ice near the Arctic Circle and the screen was designed by the same folks who built the famous ice hotel. Will they ruin everything by playing a double feature of "Cutting Edge 2" and "The Day After Tomorrow?"

+ An air date has been announced for AMC's remake of "The Prisoner." The six-hour series will air over three nights beginning Nov. 15. This 9-minute-long trailer promises good things:

+ Does falling in love or thinking about love actually make us more creative thinkers? This study published in Scientific American says yes.

+ Archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the rotating banquet hall in the ruins of Roman emperor Nero's palace. The banquet hall rotated based on the time of day. Think about that for a moment: the whole room rotated. In the first century A.D. I can't help but wonder, technologically, where our civilization would be if we'd kept on a straight-line from the Roman era and not had those pesky Dark Ages where we forgot how to make things like, you know, windows and indoor plumbing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: Primeval, Harry Potter, sweat-shop spiders and an electric unicycle

+ ITV has announced that "Primeval" will be back for two new seasons...mere months after announcing it was canceled. That's fine though -- at least there'll be more dinosaurs on TV!

+ The new Harry Potter theme park scheduled to open next year looks even cooler than I imagined! Check out these renderings of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction, being built right now in Orlando, Florida. Below is an image of Hogwarts. Now if they can just make it so I can play Quidditch, I'll be happy as can be. Thanks to Park Bench reader Anne for the link!

+ Have you seen this gorgeous rug woven from spider silk? It took four years and more than 1 million spiders and probably a lot of spider wranglers to create it. Check it out below:

+ If you want some fun lunchtime entertainment, read these submissions to Topless Robot's "Most Shameful Nerd Argument" contest. Trust me, whatever shameful nerd thing you've ever done, reading these will immediately make you feel better about yourself. My personal favorite is the story about the guys who spent four months debating which D12 die was better to use in their D&D game -- the one with the rhombus faces or the pentagon faces -- right down to figuring out the mathematical equations for questions of friction and surface use. I love it.

+ And finally, have you ever wanted to ride a unicycle but couldn't be bothered to pedal? Ok, just me then? Well, check out the enicycle which is like a cross between a Segway and a unicycle, as Park Bench reader Daven described it. The awesome new gadget won the gold medal at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva. I want one!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nerd Man of the Month: J.J. Abrams

I just had five brilliant ideas in the time it took you to sneeze.

I had an epiphany the other night and it's name was J.J. Abrams. I realized, while catching up on the last episodes of "Fringe"'s first season, that so much of the entertainment that has truly brought me geek joy over the last few years has somehow involved Abrams. This past year alone, we had the introduction of "Fringe," an awesome year of "Lost" and the best action/sci-fi film in my recent memory, the new "Star Trek" -- all of which were envisioned at least in part by this one-man writing/producing/directing juggernaut. And I kinda love him for it.

Although I never watched "Felicity," which seems so oddly out of step with the bulk of Abrams' oeuvre at this point, I was a fan of "Alias" from day one. One of Abrams' earliest successes, the pulse-pounding spy series starring a wig-wearing, ass-kicking Jennifer Garner showcased Abrams' ongoing ability to effectively add surreal elements into already fantastic premises. The show was incredible, leaving its viewers breathless at the end of every hour. And it was unlike anything else on TV.

Which sounds a lot like "Lost," a truly groundbreaking series that, in my humble opinion, will one day rank as one of the best TV shows of all time. With its insanely intricate plot, its maze of mysteries and the page-turning suspense that keeps viewers hooked -- whether they want to be or not -- the series is nerd nirvana.

As if "Lost" didn't give us enough to think about every week, we now have "Fringe," another freaky brain teaser that's quickly evolving into a "don't miss" cult series. Has there ever been a character as wonderfully nutty and dark as mad scientist Walter Bishop? And come on, there's a cow on the show! And Leonard Nimoy! An actual cow and an actual Leonard Nimoy! Brilliant.

Perhaps best of all, Abrams is the man responsible for transforming the "Star Trek" movies from the joke they had become into truly one of the best sci-fi flicks in recent memory. I will admit, I was afraid of what the "Star Trek" reboot would bring but five minutes into the new film, I knew everything would be alright -- in fact, even better than alright. Abrams showed a firm understanding of what makes "Star Trek" great, respecting the cult classic's origins while lifting it up, dusting it off and giving it new life. It was the best surprise of the summer.

As a screenwriter, Abrams also gave the world "Armageddon" which, in its campy awesomeness and rousing montages, has made 90 percent of the male population cry at least once. And yeah, I kinda like it too -- Bruce Willis saves the world in a completely incomprehensible and ridiculous way while Ben Affleck cavorts with animal crackers and Liv Tyler! No one can resist that.

Abrams also gave us one of my favorite sleepy thrillers: the underappreciated "Joy Ride" about two brothers played by Steve Zahn and Paul Walker who get chased cross-country by a crazed truck driver. Yeah, sounds lame but you won't want to get within 100 yards of a CB radio after watching it.

And although some may mutter angrily over its shortcomings, you gotta admit that "Cloverfield" was everything that lame-ass "Godzilla" remake of the 1990s should have been and wasn't. Rowr!

For all the joy he's given the nerd world over the years, for the miracle of resurrection he performed on "Star Trek," for the fact that he composes music and for the very simple reason that he can rock a pair of dark-framed eyeglasses as well as anyone, The Park Bench is pleased to name J.J. Abrams as its September Nerd Man of the Month.

Monday Odds & Ends: yetis, digitized memories, four-winged dinos and Twilight Zone

+ Sam Raimi is producing a film called "Refuge" by new British director Corin Hardy about a remote town terrorized by a Yeti. Will Yetis become the new vampires? They probably use equal amounts of product in their hair so I'm voting yes.

+ Television Without Pity has compiled their list of the best episodes ever of Joss Whedon's various TV series. Personally, I think about half of their choices are off the mark. What do you think?

+ Well, here's something freaky: a Microsoft researcher is attempting to digitize his entire memory as he goes through life, downloading and saving as many impressions, sights, sounds and responses as he can. Why? Because he can.

+ Have you seen this impressive four-winged dinosaur, which was unearthed in China and recently reported on at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting, which probably includes way more drinking than any of us imagine.

+ ABC's "V" is going to air in two parts, with the first four episodes shown in November and then picking up with the final nine in March after the Olympics.

+ Want to experience all 156 episodes of "The Twilight Zone" in under 10 minutes? Now you can, although I can't imagine why you'd want to. Seems like it might ruin the suspenseful bits just a smidge. But, hey, check it out:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Paranormal Activity" goes to 11 on the terror dial

Just returned from Ann Arbor and the midnight showing of "Paranormal Activity." It was a packed house and it was a good thing we got in line an hour and a half early. Spent the time chatting with some very nice college students (and fellow nerds) in front of us -- shockingly, one member of their party doesn't like Nathan Fillion or Neil Patrick Harris. We agreed to disagree.

Anyway, here's my three word review of "Paranormal Activity." You know how everyone's been saying it's scary. Guess what?

It's fucking scary!

That's why I'm up at 2:40 in the morning writing this -- there's no way I'm going to sleep after seeing that damn thing. And when I say "damn thing," I mean really well-crafted movie that made the most out of a very small budget and some very modest ambitions. It's an old-fashioned ghost story told with no gore and no monsters yet it prays exceptionally well upon some very basic and very powerful fears.

The basic story centers on a young couple who begin to experience odd happenings in their house and decide to set up a video camera at night to see what's going on. And then, well, things get bad. The scares start off slow but 20 minutes into it, you're already starting to freak out Pavlov-style when the lights go out and the night vision comes on.

The film moves quickly and there's very little release in the tension. It simply builds and builds (with some pretty funny moments early on) until you just can't take it anymore. As with any scary story, there are a few moments of "just turn on the goddamn lights" but for the most part, there aren't any of those usual stretches of credibility that doom so many suspense stories. This is simply a smart, genuinely scary movie.

I've mentioned before in this blog how much I don't like being frightened and true to form, I wussed out completely by the end, covering my eyes for the last few minutes and watching only half the screen -- the non-scary half of the screen. While I sort of regret not actually seeing the final pay off (okay, not really), I did hear it, and this movie uses audio so well I still got chills just from the sounds of what was happening. And I got to see my husband completely freak out and just about crawl under his seat, which was kind of awesome given this is the same man who watches horror movies the way I watch "Love, Actually" when I'm PMS-y, which is to say, a lot. And he wasn't the only one freaking out -- half the theater screamed including the burly frat guys behind us who lofted cries of "oh no" and "holy shit" into the ether. People may have wet themselves. I didn't stick around to ask.

In short, if you like to be scared, go see this movie. My husband the expert says it's the scariest movie he's ever seen. As for me, it's the scariest movie I've ever heard while covering my eyes and wishing it was over. I mean that in the best possible way.

It's nearly 3 a.m. Time for this scaredy-pants to look at pictures of fluffy kittens and puppies until sunrise.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A little afternoon cinema

I Tweeted about this earlier in the month, but I feel the need for a little sunshine in my day so here it is again, in all its glory: a very sweet, very charming short film starring David Tennant called "The Traffic Warden." It has close to zero dialogue and runs about 10 minutes long. Enjoy!

(Found via

Thursday Odds & Ends: LIFE Magazine, Wallace and Gromit, depressed babies, Wheaton and the Big Bang Theory

+ This is great news: Google Books announced yesterday that they have digitized and made available to the reading public all 1,860 issues of LIFE Magazine from 1936 to 1972. I haven't had a chance to delve into it yet, but what a treasure trove of wonderful images and stories! I can't wait.

+ Another goodie for you British people: to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman Animations is holding a contest to win tickets to see "A Grand Day Out" at the London Film Festival and attend a special Q&A session with creator Nick Park. This contest makes three reasons why I am jealous of you people, following closely on the heels of your temperate climate and lovely seaside vistas. Oh, and those delicious fishcakes I had in the Kyle of Lochalsh where -- true story -- a large sea bird dropped half a lobster on my head as I stood outside a phone booth.

+ How many of you were born in the winter months? Raise your hands. Okay, I was born in the winter and I have bad news for all of us: apparently, we're screwed. Scientists have actual data suggesting that winter babies are less successful and more sickly than their high-falutin' summer-born brothers and sisters. I always thought my failures were my own doing but now I can blame it on my lack of Vitamin D. Woo!!

+ Wil Wheaton has a great blog post up about his first day on the set of "The Big Bang Theory," in which he's guest starring. It's a great insight into how the show works and also a wonderful reminder that actors can be huge fan boys, too.

+ In the mood for a little "Buffy" nostalgia? Then check out Alyson Hannigan's photo from Sunday's Emmys.

+ Here's a cool in-depth look at "Pirate Radio," the upcoming Richard Curtis film chronicling the pirate radio transmissions that took place off the waters of the UK in the 1960s, feeding rock and roll junkies the music denied them by the BBC. I'm looking forward to this flick because, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" be damned, I really enjoy Richard Curtis' work.

+ And finally, I haven't forgotten the Nerd Man for this month. I'm just way behind, so look for me to sneak this month's winner in under the wire on Monday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Five reasons to love ABC's "Castle"

I'm full-on smitten with this kooky little show about a successful mystery novelist and his forays into crime fighting. Here's why you should be too:

Reason #1: Nathan Fillion
Nathan Fillion's charm is like fly paper or the Death Star tractor beam: once you get caught in its grasp, there is simply no escape. Everyone's favorite Canadian (sorry, Lorne Greene) shines as Rick Castle, making what could be an arrogant character into someone whose confidence is mixed with just the right amount of vulnerability and kindness to keep him lovable and interesting. Fillion's great with co-star Stana Katic, who plays police detective Kate Beckett, but he's even better in the scenes that focus on Castle's family, especially his sweet, smart teenage daughter, who provides the perfect calm foil to Castle's mania. The two are so good together, I would watch the show just for their interactions. But really, Fillion's just great, period.

The best father-daughter duo on television.

Reason #2: The show keeps getting better.
While I've enjoyed "Castle" since its debut, the early going for this show was pretty rocky and sometimes made my want to hide my brain under the couch cushions. The mysteries, which are kind of important for a detective show, were beyond simplistic, forcing the characters to look like idiots in order to draw the simplistic mysteries out. Whole teams of chubby Clydesdales could have trotted through those plot holes. But then something miraculous happened toward the end of season 1: plots started to make sense. There was actual tension and suspense. I kept checking the channel guide to make sure I was watching the right show. And not only did the plots start making more sense, all of the character interactions became more natural, the action propelled the show and holy cow, by season's end, "Castle" was a real, live detective show. Judging by the first episode of the new season, the writing has gotten even stronger. Kudos to the writers and producers for not sliding by with mediocre but actually striving for good.

Reason #3: It's really funny.
And not unintentionally funny like when David Caruso squints on "CSI: Miami." Nope, "Castle" reminds me of what "The X-Files" used to do so well: toss out unexpectedly hilarious lines from left field, like Castle's whole riff on a film adaptation of the video game "Asteroids" and how he thinks it'll be okay because they've gotten Ryan Reynolds to play the little green triangle and "he's really good." Or the weird situational comedy that Fillion plays so well:

Reason #4: The supporting cast is actually pretty awesome.
In particular, Jon Huertas as Detective Esposito and Seamus Dever as Detective Ryan. They're like they're own little Greek chorus, just chiming in with funny asides or wry commentary as Castle and Beckett argue or some other absurdity takes place. The show wouldn't be the same without them.

Reason #5: The show doesn't take itself too seriously.
"Castle" is never going to be "Mad Men" or "The Sopranos" or some other pinnacle of artistic achievement, and that's a good thing. We all need a balanced TV diet of weighty stuff like "The Wire" and fun fluffy stuff like "Castle." The show is just a goofy amalgam of everything from "Moonlighting" to "Murder, She Wrote," and it knows it. It's only aim is make you forget your troubles for an hour each week and enjoy a bit of mystery, romance and humor...and Nathan Fillion looking good in suits. What more could you ask for on a Monday night?

Wednesday Odds & Ends: Facebook, Iron Man 2, New Moon, Betty White and Sweet Valley High

+ Via Entertainment Weekly, here are a slew of new behind-the-scenes photos from "New Moon." Pretty boy alert is at threat level orange (and glittery) with this one.

+ I think I've mentioned the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Facebook movie before, which is not about sheep tossing and errant pokes but rather about the founding of the massive social networking site. Well, now David Fincher has officially been signed to direct the film, which will star Jesse Eisenberg as founder Mark Zuckerberg and Justin Timberlake as the Napster co-founder who became Facebook's first president. I would totally elect Justin Timberlake to be my president. I don't know what that means, but it's true.

+ If you can handle watching Entertainment Tonight without having a seizure from all the fast cuts and strobing lights, then tune in tomorrow night for a behind-the-scenes preview of "Iron Man 2." And here's a preview of the preview:

+ This Saturday is the fifth annual Museum Day and National Public Lands Day, which means that loads of museums (more than 1,200 in fact) and zoos across the country are offering free admission and special events as are many public parks. So don't forget to check out your favorite spot for special deals.

+ Speaking of national treasures, my Betty White mania just got some happy news: she'll be guest starring on "30 Rock" this fall. In this same blurb, Tina Fey makes a joke about getting Justin Timberlake to guest star. I don't think she should tease me like this. Just make it happen, woman!

+ Because he's bored, J.J. Abrams has decided to produce a 30-minute comedy for FOX set in a hospital. As long as it doesn't star Zach Braff, I'm fine with it. And yes, I'm sure my approval means a lot to him.

+ And here's something to make the universe's head explode: Diablo Cody has been signed to adapt the "Sweet Valley High" books, of which more than 150 titles were published between 1983 and 2003. Most were written by a lonely robot named Margaret Buttercup Hoofenhoffen -- true story!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: Hodgman, The A-Team, MIT, Terry Pratchett and a way cool Venn diagram

+ Remember how awesome Sharlto Copley was as Wikus Van De Merwe in "District 9?" Well, I suggest you savor that memory because his next big role is going to be as Captain "Howling Mad" Murdock in the upcoming big screen version of "The A-Team." No, I'm serious. He'll be co-starring with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Biel. I hated "The A-Team" as a kid so this whole announcement just makes me sad.

+ Did you enjoy John Hodgman's fun "facts" about the various winners at Sunday night's Emmy Awards? New York Magazine has compiled a few of their favorites.

+ And speaking of facts, how many of us wanted to attend MIT but were hindered by either poor SAT math scores (me!) or the fact that it costs approximately $17 million in tuition and boarding to attend (me!)? Well, fret no longer -- MIT is now offering all 1900 of its courses online for free including syllabi, reading materials, exams and more. Thanks to Daven for the link!

+ New York Magazine has decreed "The Big Bang Theory"'s Jim Parsons to be TV's leading nerd and have a short, interesting article on him to celebrate.

+ Want to add a new computer to your collection? How about a really old one? You might be in luck if you can pony up the bucks. Gene Roddenberry's Macintosh 128 -- with a serial number of 001 -- is up for auction. In related news, Popular Science has their list of "10 Things We Wish Were On Gene Roddenberry's Hard Drive." Thanks to Andi for the links!

+ Are you a fan of legendary fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett? Do you live in London or have access to your own airplane or ocean liner? Then you might want to check out the National Theatre's current production of "Nation," adapted from the Pratchett novel of the same name. Thank you, Kate, for the tip!

+ And in other news, The A.V. Club has an in-depth and intriguing interview with director Jane Campion about her new film "Bright Star" based on the last three years of poet John Keats' life.

+ And finally, thanks to Park Bench reader Sara who sent this in, we've got a cool Venn diagram to help us determine once and for all if we're nerds, geeks or dorks. I knew science would come through for us in the end. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Surviving "War and Peace"

You will be mine!

I'm finally doing it. After decades of training that mostly involved learning big words and finding the right prescription for my glasses, I am ready to embark on my greatest literary mission to date: I am reading "War and Peace." And much the way a marathon runner goes on and on and on about every quarter mile accomplishment until you want to beat them to death with their own Nikes, I intend to share with you my progress on taming this 1386 page beast.

I picked up the book late last week and am 130 pages into it so far, which by my faulty mathematical estimation means I've completed less than 10 percent. To date, I have a tenuous but intact grasp of what's going on: basically, there seem to be a lot of Russian people in drawing rooms making small talk and arguing with each other about society and status while a few hundred miles away, a small man named Bonaparte is whistling a jaunty tune and amassing large portions of European real estate.

I already can tell that my biggest struggle with this bad boy is going to be keeping all the characters straight. Why? Because every frickin' character has approximately 718 different names. If I had a time machine, I would go back right now and tell Tolstoy to cut it out and just pick one, dammit. It doesn't have to be a great name, just a memorable one: Fluffy, Roscoe, Floyd Netherbottom -- I don't care, just pull one from a hat, pin it to a character and be done with it. It's hard enough to read 1386 pages without also having to create a flow chart listing every single character and what they may or may not be called at different points in the narrative -- all because the guy with the beard couldn't make a decision. And yes, I'm going to make the joke: it's like Brett Favre wrote this thing. (I know it's just a Russian literature thing, but right now, I'm in the mood to blame someone and it might as well be Tolstoy.)

Now, I feel like I have a 50-50 chance of surviving the name issue because I trained pretty hard a few years back with "Anna Karenina" and it one only made me cry once. On the other hand, the names did me in on "The Brothers Karamazov" and I've been known to give even short Chekhov stories the finger because I couldn't keep the characters straight. So really, I should probably only give myself a 33 percent chance.

As a back-up plan, though, I've decided to give myself a free pass on total coherency. If I get a few counts or princes mixed up and accidentally turn them into the same person for a few hundred pages, I'm going to tell myself it's okay. Who hasn't gotten a few counts and princes mixed up in their day, right? Exactly.

In my three days of reading so far, I've also learned I'll have to physically get into better shape simply to hold the book. I like to read while lying down, which means I need strong wrists to hold a book this size vertical. There was a Roosevelt biography that broke me a while back for this very reason. That was a hardcover. I refuse to be done in with a paperback, albeit a paperback that could serve as a wheel block for a semi. Perhaps since this is my literary equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest, I could hire a sherpa to prop the thing up? Or would that be weird?

Please don't mind my apparent crabbiness, though, because the truth is, I'm enjoying the book immensely. "Anna Karenina" is one of my all-time favorite novels and I'm looking forwad to immersing myself in this one as well. I'm also looking forward to having the words "I finished War and Peace, bitches" tattooed on my forehead and running through every library and book club I can find -- you know, the way classy people do.

Only nine-tenths left to go!

Monday Odds & Ends: Dr. Horrible, the Emmys, glaciers, Fringe and Halo

+ First off, there is nothing more important this morning than getting to see the awesome "Dr. Horrible" bit from last night's Emmy Awards again. So here it is...

I love Nathan waving at the flashing battery.

+ As for the rest of the Emmy Awards show, well, I didn't see all of it but I was mightily pleased that Kristin Chenoweth won for "Pushing Daisies" and Michael Emerson won for "Lost." I'm still puzzled over Jon Cryer winning an award for "Two and a Half Men." I assume that was some sort of mistake and it will be rectified with Neil Patrick Harris being given TWO awards and several hugs next year to make up for it. Oh, and it was nice to see Charles Dickens kicking ass with "Little Dorrit."

+ Cinema Blend has an interview with Joshua Jackson on all sorts of "Fringe" topics...making me wish I'd caught up with the end of season one before reading it. Oh well.

+ I linked to this on Twitter over the weekend, but just in case you missed it, I thought it was funny enough to include here: a man in the UK feels he was discriminated against at his local Tesco because they asked him to remove his Jedi hood while in the store. The man founded the International Church of Jediism last year, and felt he was being ridiculed when asked to take down the hood on his cloak. That's all well and good, but what makes this story art is the statement from Tesco, reprinted below:

"Jedi are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all went hoodless without going to the Dark Side. If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers."

Actually, the Jedi's final statement is pretty good too:

"I'll advise worshippers to boycott Tesco if it happens again. They will feel the Force." Of four people not buying Lilt.

+ For your daily dose of prettiness, check out these gorgeous photos of glaciers at Wired, including this one of Bear Glacier in Alaska.

+ And finally, courtesy of Park Bench reader TheWonderingSwordsman, here's a cool trailer from the new Halo 3: ODST game, which hits stores tomorrow. It features the voices of Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, which is reason enough to buy it right there.

ETA: I can't believe I almost forgot this! You still have 11 more hours to bid on a dinner for two with sci-fi author and legend Harlan Ellison and his wife at their home (which probably means you'll have to help with the dishes afterward). It's part of the Dream for Jeanne Benefit Auction. Thanks to Park Bench reader Dean for the link!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Guest blog post: A look at the "True Blood" finale

You know what this blog is sadly lacking? Talk of "True Blood." It's a giant, gaping gap in the geek coverage. Why? Because yours truly has no coin for premium cable so I miss out on all the good stuff. Happily, though, The Park Bench has got friends...and those friends write great stuff about "True Blood." Yup, this afternoon, Ian of TV Lowdown, has dual-blogged for his site and The Park Bench, offering up a scintillating recap and review of the much talked-about "True Blood" finale, which aired this past Sunday. So if you haven't seen it...spoilers ahoy! And if you have seen it, please enjoy and feel free to comment with your thoughts on the show.

And so another season of True Blood draws to a close amidst yet more Yahtzee, people being gored by bulls, murdered truckers and the ritual licking of ostrich eggs. Just another day in Bon Temps.


Previously on True Blood… Jessica snacked on Zombie-Maxine who later told Hoyt the truth about his suicidal father, Sam tried to promote interspecies solidarity by asking Eric for help with Maryann, Eric flew, Sookie and Bill worked their mojo to de-zombify Tara who promptly ran off to save Eggs, Sookie worked yet further mojo on Maryann, Lafayette inadvertently killed Carl and became Maryann’s latest cabana boy, Bill get the lowdown on how to deal with Maenads from Sophie-Anne, and… well, a whole lot more happened. This “Previously” section is two minutes long, which goes some way to showing how awesomely layered this show has become.

Skipping ahead to the start of the episode and we find Sookie exercising her lungs once more with a good old-fashioned horror movie scream as she realises Lafayette isn’t going to be backing her up any time soon. He gives the order for the giant egg to be delivered to Maryann before making Sookie change into a white dress and hauling her downstairs into the Bridal Suite o’ The Damned where Maryann, apparently wearing Gran’s wedding dress, is being attended to by her bridesmaids. Maryann gleefully declares that Sookie will be her maid of honour, and we cut to the opening titles whilst wondering; what wedding gift do you give to the immortal demon-god-summoning sociopath who has it all?

Read the rest of the post here...

Friday Odds & Ends: Nathan, The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, Flash Forward and The Plan

I'm back from my sojourn in the wilds of upper Michigan where I saw giant hawks and Mike Rowe from Discovery's "Dirty Jobs." Seriously, Mike Rowe! My husband and I were sitting in a bar in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden Mike Rowe walks by...and minutes later, the bar was crowded with townies getting photos and we never got to meet him. But hey, we saw Mike Rowe ten feet away from us...and giant hawks who were a lot more than ten feet away. Also, I did a lot of biking and my calves hurt but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, I missed you all and hope you've had a good week. Now on with the news...

+ USA Today's Pop Candy column is accepting questions for a certain Mr. Nathan Fillion until 4 p.m. EST today so if you've ever wanted to ask Nathan if he enjoys getting caught in the rain and taking long walks on the beach, now's your chance!

+ Cinema Blend has an interesting script review of Joss Whedon's upcoming horror film "The Cabin In The Woods." The reviewer says its non-spoilery and I would agree but there's kind of a big plot point that gets explained that I sort of wish I didn't know. So if you want to go into this flick as pure as the driven snow, then perhaps it's best to skip it. Otherwise, go for it!

+ And speaking of the wonderful world of Whedon, the Joss-man himself revealed nine secrets about the upcoming season of "Dollhouse" which starts a week from tonight on FOX.

+ I know you're probably counting the days until that new "Tron: Legacy" movie opens but it looks like we're all going to have to wait a while longer. It'll be opening in both IMAX and on regular dowdy old-fashioned screens on Dec. 17, 2010.

+ Want to watch the first 18 minutes of ABC's new series, "Flash Forward?" Sure you do! It has John Cho and Joseph Fiennes...and some sort of intriguing plot but mostly it has John Cho and Joseph Fiennes.

+ This bit of news came out while I was gone but it bears repeating: SyFy will not be airing the "Battlestar Galactica" prequel film, "The Plan," as scheduled this fall. Instead, it will still release the DVD on Oct. 27 and then will televise it sometime in 2010. Weenies.

+ Have you ever wanted to smell like a wet, slimy fictional horror creature born from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft? Well, now you can! For the low, low price of $15 (for a sample) and $25 for 10 ml, you can buy Eau de Cthulhu perfume from the good people of Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. Sometimes the world is a pretty cool place, isn't it?

+ And most importantly, did anyone else watch the "Bones" premiere last night? What did you think? I liked it. I don't think it made up for the craptacularness of the finale, but I enjoyed it. How could I not? It had Cyndi Lauper! And how was "Fringe?" I had to DVR it since I'm still catching up on the end of last season, but was it good?

Monday, September 14, 2009

A temporary disconnect...

Hey cats and kittens, I'll be without the internet for a few days but will be back up and running on Friday morning, all giddy and glassy-eyed at the start of the new TV season. Until then, have fun and be sure to e-mail me if you hear any great nerdy news. In the immortal words of somebody or other, TTFN!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Odds & Ends: Michael Hogan, Of Mice and Men, awesome names and Queen Victoria's underpants

+ Wondering what to watch when the new fall TV season kicks off next week? Sci-Fi Wire has corralled trailers for all the new and returning sci-fi shows and collected them in one handy place! Thanks, Sci-Fi Wire. I'll hold off on making fun of SyFy all day today in gratitude.

+ Get your DVRs primed and ready. Next Tuesday, Michael Hogan guest stars as Myka's dad on "Warehouse 13." Here's a clip, showcasing the kind of the awesome eyeball acting we loved on "Battlestar" but this time with BOTH eyes! Crazy!

+ Here's one of the many reasons I don't ever want to be queen -- someday, someone's going to unpack your old underpants and let everyone take pictures of them. A pair of Queen Victoria's bloomers as well as a matching chemise have been added to the Kensington Palace Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection, following a quick spin out of the box for photographers as evidenced below:

+ Speaking of underpants, David Tennant will be starring in BBC Radio 4's upcoming dramatization of "Of Mice and Men," playing George. It's scheduled to air sometime early next year.

+ The short list for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction was announced on Tuesday. The six nominees include JM Coetzee, A.S. Byatt who seems to get nominated for this thing every 15 minutes or so, Adam Foulds, Sarah Waters, Simon Mawer and the odds-makers' favorite Hilary Mantel for her book "Wolf Hall," an historical novel about Thomas Cromwell. The winner will be announced on October 6.

+ Check out this Wired article on a blog that "remixes" famous comic book covers. Pretty!

+ And finally, via PopCandy, a Norwegian bus driver has changed his name to Julius Andreas Gimli Arn MacGyver Chewbacka Highlander Elessar-Jankova. Julius, the only non-pop culture reference in there, is apparently in honor of a local monkey...which, let's face it, makes it art.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: Akira, Neil Gaiman, Blackadder meets Doctor Who, and giant woolly rats

Hope you all had a wonderful long weekend! Sorry for my blogging absence on Friday. Work's been a bit hectic. Hopefully my plans for self-cloning will ease that a bit. Also, I intend to give myself the ability to fly and eat all the donuts I want without heartburn. Aim high, right?

+ You know how there's been talk off and on about a possible remake of "Akira?" No, I didn't know either. Well, apparently there's been talk off and on about a possible remake of "Akira" and now it looks like Leonardo DiCaprio's production company has hired actual writers for the script. The best news? Those writers are Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (porn name?) who penned "Iron Man" and "Children of Men" which means they'll probably find a way to put some variation on the word "man" in the "Akira" title.

+ There are plenty of reasons to love Neil Gaiman -- and maybe be a little frightened of him, which is kind of what I'm feeling after seeing "Coraline" for the first time this past weekend -- but perhaps there is no greater reason than the general awesomeness of his home library. For one thing, it has A LOT of books...and apparently, an award from the disembodied head of Jim Nabors (see plaque on left):

And second, it is being guarded by the proud form of half a jackalope, which is, of course, the finest mythical creature in all of America. (Yeah, yetis, I mean it.)

+ Rumor has it that Richard Curtis, creator of "Blackadder" and every British romantic comedy in the last 15 years that I'm not supposed to like but secretly own a DVD copy of anyway, might be writing a script for the new season of "Doctor Who." Curtis is quoted as telling "The Sun" that "there will be a monster. And a famous historical figure will battle the monster." Don't know how much of this I believe, given that jackelope collector Neil Gaiman was also rumored to be writing "Who" scripts a couple years back.

+ Thanks to Park Bench reader Daven for these cool links to some truly groundbreaking new energy technologies. You have to check out these organic light-emitting diodes which are highly flexible and give off virtually no heat...and are pretty damn awesome to look at. Even more fancy and fine? Paper-thin batteries.

+ And finally, did you hear about the 40 new species of animal discovered by researchers from the United States, UK and Papua New Guinea? After climbing into the kilometer-deep crater of Mount Bosavi, the scientists discovered a vibrant jungle habitat containing, among other mind-blowing creatures, fanged frogs, grunting fish and giant woolly rats.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thursday Kibbles and Bits: bastardized Bronte, SyFy, chupacabras and an LOLcat moratorium

+ Dear Pop Culture World, please stop punching me in the gut for maybe 10 seconds or so. I lose my mind when I see stuff like this:

Yes, that's right -- it's a newly designed cover for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, made to look like the cover of a Twilight novel! With a badge that reads, "Bella and Edward's favorite book." I'll just let that sink in for a moment or two. *whistles* Yes! Exactly! It's a crime against literature, one that nearly resulted in my head shooting off my body when I saw it on Topless Robot this morning. HarperCollins, you sadden me...except for those few seconds when I gleefully imagined the disappointment felt by people who will read this book all the way through only to find there are exactly zero vampires living out there on the moors. Haha, suckers!

+ In other risible news, the SyFy Channel is apparently contemplating adding a cooking show and yes, a talk show, to their lineup. Personally, I'm hoping their foray into reality television produces a "Survivor"-like effort featuring the stars of their worst Saturday night movies fighting costumed Yetis and Chupacabras. Fingers crossed...

+ Speaking of the always popular "goat sucker," some yoo-hoo's shared yet more video of an oversized, big-toothed, ugly dog claiming it's a chupacabra. "The X-Files" totally ruined this urban legend for me -- the real thing will never be as cool as the one they stitched together.

+ In less disturbing news, Cinema Blend has a nifty fall movie preview. I'm really looking forward to Soderbergh's "The Informant!" (because it's a Matt Damon movie with an exclamation point in the title), "Where the Wild Things Are" (because the trailers look amazing), "Amelia" (because, let's face it, she was pretty cool and also there's Christopher Eccleston), "The Men Who Stare at Goats" (Clooney as faux Jedi!), "2012" (aircraft carrier runs over White House - who thinks this stuff up?), "Sherlock Holmes" (shirtless Robert Downey Jr.) and "Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squakquel" (just kidding...sort of...I really like animated rodents. It's a thing.). What movies are you looking forward to the most?

+ And finally, I found out about this earlier and wanted to warn you ahead of time: September 9 has been declared "A Day Without Cats" by More specifically, a day without pictures and videos of cats being cute. I'll let their video explain it:

Sadly, I have seen every one of those images before and knew exactly where the cats should be. Sigh. I really need a job. Anyway, to mitigate the pain of a day without cats, Urlesque is offering to blog on a different animal of their readers' choice. I voted for the rodents, but I'm thinking the goats might be good too. Cast your ballot today!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wednesday Odds & Ends: Cowboys & Aliens, Astro Boy, The Wizard of Oz and a sad '90s icon forced to sing Bon Jovi

Wow, I'm beat this morning. Did anyone else stay up all night to read the new Lorrie Moore novel? Okay, just me? Well, you should go buy it now and stay up tonight because it's excellent. But enough about me, here's the newsy stuff:

+ Well, here's a dream team if ever there was one: the makers of "Iron Man" and the recent "Star Trek" reboot (and yes, "Lost") are possibly joining forces to create a film version of the graphic novel "Cowboys & Aliens." Yeppers, that means Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. will meld their awesomeness with that of Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damen Lindelof to give us two great tastes that taste great together. (I'm really hungry right now -- sorry.)

+ Here's a preview of "Astro Boy," which to me -- as someone who's never seen the original -- looks like a cross between "Caprica" and "The Iron Giant" but with squeakier voices and rounder heads. I could be wrong in that assessment.

+ This year marks the 70th anniversary of a lot of great movies including "Gone with the Wind" but perhaps none is as groundbreaking and generally fabulous as "The Wizard of Oz" which will be hitting the big screen once again in celebration. On Sept. 23, you can check out this masterpiece in high definition, which means the munchkins will look even freakier than you remembered. Check out the film's official site to see where the movie's playing near you -- beware though, turn the sound down if you're at the office because the site's really, really loud.

+ Speaking of great movies, it's also the 107th anniversary of the world's first science fiction film, the Melies brothers "A Trip to the Moon."

+ And finally, I was kind of creeped out by this video this morning. It shows clips from "Guitar Hero 5" in which they actually use the Kurt Cobain avatar to sing on non-Nirvana songs, meaning I now have a vision of a Cobain singing Bon Jovi, which if you were even mildly a fan of Nirvana is, well, bad and kind of insulting and perhaps disrespectful of the dead. Speaking of which, is it just me or does the Cobain avatar look a little zombie-ish? If so, I hope that means he'll be returning from the dead to kick somebody's ass over this. If you'd like to read a better diatribe, check out Topless Robot's rant on this very subject -- it's where I pilfered the video from.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday Odds & Ends: The Guild, Legos, Fringe, Marvel and unforgiveable accents

+ You know "The Guild" has made it when it's featured in "The Wall Street Journal." It's a pretty interesting article on how Felicia Day cultivated it as an independent project. Also, episode one of the new season is now embeddable, which means it's below. Enjoy!

<a href=" video&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:6f31eb66-4360-439a-ad62-f2bdf28f550e&showPlaylist=true&from=IV2_en-us_v11HP&fg=gtlv2" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time">Video: Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time</a>

+ Remember a while back I mentioned that James May was building an actual house built out of Legos? Well, he did, using more than 816 million Lego blocks. Here's what it looks like, mid-build:

+ This Thursday night, you'll be able to Twitter along with the "Fringe" cast during a rebroadcast of last year's "The Road Not Taken" episode. You'll be able to post your own comments as well. I encourage you to ask Joshua Jackson if he's wearing pants...celebrities like that plus, it's just a good thing to know.

+ Cinemablend tries to quell the massive freak-out storm over Disney's acquisition of Marvel. Here, they share their five reasons not to lose sleep over the deal. But then you've got The Hollywood Reporter which is pretty much all about the big changes and why, yeah, you might want to freak out just a little bit.

+ I really enjoyed this list of the Empire Magazine's "Worst British Accents Ever." It comes with helpful video to prove the dialectical sins. Poor Kevin Costner, he'll never live down that "Robin Hood" fiasco...

+ And finally, if you're like me and find yourself trolling the Internet constantly for "Doctor Who" news, may I recommend this site which seems to include every up-to-the-minute spoiler you'd ever want? It's got me really looking forward to the new season.