Saturday, December 30, 2006

It’s Almost 2007

This morning on CNN I heard that Saddam Hussein was executed. It is still uncertain weather or not this will lead to an increase in violence in the area. December has been the bloodiest month for American Soldiers since the war began; the death toll is, presently, at 108. The commentator who was Australian and had most recently been in Baghdad in September discussed how the Iraqi people view their lives now at the close of 2006. He said that fathers tell their families when they leave for the day to try to find work that they will see them in the evening God willing. The average number of bodies found on a daily basis is 40. These bodies, these people, have been tortured with electric drill bits before being shot in the head and dumped by the side of the road. This doesn’t count the car bombings, which are a common occurrence there in the destabilized region that is Iraq.

The fact is that no one is safe. Security is an illusion. No matter where one lives Baghdad or New Jersey. The Lord gives and He takes away. Uncertainty is certain. The past is gone, the future is completely up in the air and the only thing we have is right now. No matter where we are or what our role may be – we must make right now count. We play our roles until our parts are recast. The day is young. The New Year has yet to begin. Brimming with possibility both horrific and wondrous. But I suppose that is how it has always been and always will be. Life moves on weather we want it to or wish it to.

Happy New Year; may it be a wondrous one. Do your part and make it so.

"Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Multiplex Madness 2007!

This is a hard time for a fanboy like myself. The Christmas movie season can be feast or famine and ’06 is not knocking my socks off. Alas, what’s a geek like me to do? Well, make a list of what’s around the corner for ’07 of course!

Although the dates may change here’s the hot list – thus far…

- Ghostrider (2/16/07 – I’m jazzed for this one. Make mine Marvel.)
- 300 (3/9/07 – from Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Not for the kids and based on a true story. Molan Labe!)
- TMNT (CG on 3/23/07. I met Peter Laird a few years back, nice guy)
- Grind House (4/6/07 – Terantino & Rodriguez back in black. Not for the kids.)
- Spiderman 3 (5/4/07 – I can’t wait for this one)
- 28 Weeks Later (5/11/07 – The not-zombie zombie sequel!)
- 1408 (5/18/07 – Steven King ghost story, sign me up)
- Shrek the Third (5/18/07 – “Not my gumdrop buttons!”)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (5/25/07 – Bring it on)
- Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer (6/15/07 – Hope it works)
- Ratatoulille (6/29/07 – Pixar. You can’t go wrong w/ Pixar.)
- Transformers (7/4/07 – This’ll be big)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (7/13/07 – I’m a Potterhead and I’m not ashamed of it!)
- Mr. Bean’s Holiday (9/28/07 – I love the character.)
- Thirty Days of Night (10/19/07 – Vampires at the artic circle. Based on the graphic novel. No doubt I’m there.)
- I Am Legend (11/19/07 – It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.)
- National Treasure II (12/21/07 – This one revolves around Abe Lincoln and 18 missing pages from John Wilkes Booth’s library. I never expected there to be a sequel but here it comes.)

There are also two wild cards Battle Angel (James Cameron returns to the director’s chair) and Sweeny Todd (Tim Burton & Johnny Depp have adapted the play) but I don’t know the release dates yet.

Yeah, it’s a good time to be a geek.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Changing Channels

Celebrity has been described as “The cult of personality.” I don’t believe that this is far from the truth. It is pitiful what we value in our society. Pitiful. These swollen bags of self-important protoplasm & ego that we choose to worship truly sadden me. It would be simple to name names but why? You probably already have a list of pop culture figures dancing through your mind. We have elected the beautiful, the rich and have lifted them onto pedestals with our time, money and attention – why? Just because someone has amassed a fortune by inheriting it, sleeping with someone who has money or power or actually earning it does not mean that they deserve to be worshiped. Some celebrities have been elevated to a position of veneration and they, most certainly, have their disciples. Never forget that it is we who do this. Oh we can blame the media but they are only giving the public what it wants; and what we want is drivel. They are happy to supply.

I weep for the future.

I’m going to describe a scene that happened yesterday morning. I’m not naming names – these meat puppets already get entirely too much publicity. I was getting ready for work and turned on "Good Morning America." They ran out of news and started discussing a shocking celebrity battle. The story concerned a celebrity who put his hand across the mouth of another celebrity, which in turn caused another celebrity from another waste of time TV show to become upset at the celebrity who was physically accosted. This celebrity (the one with her mouth covered by the other celebrity) phoned the waste of time TV show of the other bloated celebrity to complain. And this is news? Really. So I changed the channel over to the "Today Show" and just guess what they were covering. Yup, the same celebrities in the same non-issue incident. Now here we have two major networks covering the same “story” at the same time. Why? Because this pabulum is what we as a viewing public choose to care about – it’s what we choose to worship. Have no doubt about it worship is the right word.

I stopped changing channels and just switched the TV off. As previously stated, I intentionally did not use any of the people’s names involved in the “incident” because they get entirely too much press as it is and here, in this blog at least, I control the names of those I choose to venerate and remember. Art for art’s sake does not mean that we have to worship at the feet of a group of talking heads. The above example is just the tip of the festering boil; there have been, are and will continue to be such important newsworthy stories to capture our collective attention and dumb us down once again. Fortunately we now have hundreds of channels to choose from to keep us up to speed on the big issues of celebrity life. Even better – all televisions are still equipped with an on/off button.

Switch it off.

No celebrities were harmed during the above diatribe… unfortunately.

A Word On Michael Richards


My wife and I were down in the Garden District of New Orleans (pre Katrina) and we were Geocaching in a small park in between two parallel running roads. It was a sunny, well-lit day but our search for the object of our desire was not to be found. The cache was well hidden. We found a large red spider in her web in between bricks where our GPS was telling us to look but other than that – nothing.

New Orleans was/is a vibrant part of the world – there is always something happening. That’s part of the joy of the city. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a guy on a bike riding down the side of the road peddling toward whatever destination awaited him. I didn’t pay much attention since I was still looking for the cache. Suddenly a car turns around the corner and speeds up. The driver of said car sticks his head out of the driver’s window and screams “Get out of my way nigger!” He then bravely sped away from the scene of the incident. The guy on the bike was frustrated; he shook his head and kept on peddling. What else was there to do? Meanwhile, my wife and I just stood with our jaws agape. We didn’t believe what we just witnessed. This was the twenty first century – that sort of thing is a part of the past! Right? Was this a litmus test of southern racial tension or just a simple reminder to a couple from New Jersey that there most certainly is still trouble in the paradise of modern life here in the United States?

Blind hatred really has no bounds or boarders. Since it really lacks any type of moral compass divisions such as North and South don’t really do it any justice. I’m not just talking White verses Black or Black verses White – no one race has any corner of the market when it comes to hatred. It is what it is and you move on. I find it next to impossible to discuss any topic in any depth with someone whose mind has been made up. I teach my children the importance of treating others the way that they want to be treated, no matter what their skin tone is. It is irrelevant. “Do unto others,” is one of the most basic tenants of my faith. We never did find that cache in the park and decided that it would be better to move along.

I still think of that day and I realize that I am one of those naïve white guys who believed that, for the most part, blatant hatred is a thing of the past. After all, this is the twenty-first century. I’m pleased and happy to believe this since it fits quite nicely into my white guy existence. I’d like to believe that we are moving forward and that there are equal opportunities for anyone who would take advantage of them. Times have changed – right? We have come some distance but there is still so very far to go. Perhaps it just comes down to fear? It could be fear of the unknown, the unfamiliar; fear of losing control over one’s own environment or of being subjugated; fear of being threatened, mistreated and hurt emotionally or physically; maybe even destroyed, I don’t know. Perhaps recognition of ones own fear is key – no matter what shade of the rainbow ones pigmentation is. Will blind hatred ever be eradicated? No. But it can be seen and understood for what it is – identified so that it can be treated and we can all move on.

I cannot speak for Michael Richard but it seems that his fear got the best of him – right here in the twenty-first century.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gunpowder Treason

My wife reminded me that today was November the 5th; Guy Fawkes Day in the majority of all places United Kingdom. I remember hearing of the Gunpowder Plot in school but I truly took notice with Alan Moore’s “V for Vendetta” and the subsequent film of the same name that he has, as with all of his work that has been excreted into film, disavowed.

So what is the difference between an anarchist and a revolutionary? Where is the line between terrorist and freedom fighter drawn? You got me; the victors write the history books. In Guy Fawkes case the victors caught him attempting to blow up the King and the Parliament Building. Guy was catholic and the King and those in power were protestant. Guy was tortured into revealing the names of his conspirators, hung and drawn & quartered. Ouch.

Today as it states in Wikipedia, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated, “in the United Kingdom take place in towns and villages across the country, involve fireworks displays and the building of bonfires, on which "guys", or dummies, representing Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the conspirators, are traditionally burnt. Before the fifth, children use the "guys" to beg for money with the chant "Penny for the guy".

“Remember, remember the fifth of November.” Now, without further ado, here is the traditional rhyme, which I pulled from Wikipedia, my favorite second brain…

The night is closely associated with the popular rhyme:

Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

The full rhyme, rarely used, continues:

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

The following verses, though originally part of the rhyme, are usually left out of modern day recitations for the inflammatory anti-Catholic remarks:

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

So there you have it, don’t blow off any fingers or start any revolutions that you are not prepared to finish. Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bring It On

Finally! Someone gets it – a working electric car and now, more than ever, for the right reasons. Surprise surprise, it’s not a big American carmaker… yet.

Check it.

“Oh it will never catch on… It’s too expensive… Where do you go for repairs… It won’t work… Are you a tree hugger or something?” Do shut up. I’m not even saying please. I’m entirely too sick of people accepting the status quo just because it’s the status quo. Yes, it will catch on. Yeah it’s pricey – so were the first color televisions that are now about to become obsolete do to HDTV. Repair shops will respond to customer demand. Hell yeah it’ll work. Making the accusation of being a ‘treehugger’ may just be one of the least patriotic things someone could say concerning the issue of foreign oil vs. alternative energy. Prior to this electric cars were limited to about trips of 60 or so miles. The Tesla travels 250 miles on one charge. Oh, did I mention that it goes 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds?

“Did you say all the right reasons? Yeah that’s right. Putting the obvious environmental advantages aside the real beauty of this vehicle is to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We’ve heard it all on the news but the fact is that other large countries (India & China) are clamoring for oil – the same oil that we are depending on for industrial residential, commercial and transportation needs. Transportation is a biggie folks. 63% of the oil we use here goes to transportation. Right here in the good ole’ U S of A we are over a barrel (sorry). It really doesn’t matter who has the reigns the Republicans (although having an oil man in the oval office doesn’t bode well for significant change any time too soon) or the Democrats; both parties like the status quo. Fortunately, there is still a thing called competition. Competition is one of the engines of progress. If there is a need to be filled that the big boys don’t see because they are too busy getting fat and rich it is still possible for the world to change with an idea or concept that the big guys choose to overlook. This is such a project.

Gentle reader we cannot leave this in the hands of big oil or the government. You want jobs? Let’s rebuild our infrastructure and base it on replenishable power sources. Can you imagine a world where we were not so utterly and completely dependent on the whims of madmen or oil barons? Wouldn’t that be a great world to hand over to our children?

All Hail Tesla! Give ‘em HELL boys.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Next Gen Gaming

Dear friends allow me to share with you a few thoughts about the latest batch of “Next Generation” video game consoles. The Evil Chicken clan loves video games. There are three kids who range in age from 6 to 13 years of age. Of course it would not be prudent to not add their father, yours truly, into the equation. 4 out of 5 members of the EC-5 are gamers – we have been following the ups and downs of the big three, X-Box 360, Playstation 3, and the Nintendo Wii. All of these systems will deliver wonderful sound and graphics. Each has the third party software angle firmly in their pocket and each are vying for your dollar. So now for your reading pleasure and potential shopping enjoyment I present to you what the future may hold for your TV (HD or otherwise) in the near future.

X-Box 360. Great graphics, HD ready (which is quite startling when you see an HD image) and is ready for multiplayer glory around the globe. It is possible to go out right now and buy one; in fact BJ’s has a bundle pack with the game system and three games for $499.00. For the X-Box 360, this is a good price. Still, the X-Box 360 will not play your old X-Box games. I find this a bit of a downer. However, that new zombie game, “Dead Rising” that was just released peaked my interest and put Microsoft back in the running.

Playstation 3. Graphics, HD, out of the box multiplayer support and that’s not too shabby. Games, you ask? How does three generations of software sound? If you still have your original “Tomb Raider” PSX disc it will play on the PS3. Did you enjoy playing “God of War” on your PS2? Well, you’ll still enjoy it on your PS3. Sony is not making you pay for an entirely new library of games. Oh you will want to do the new games by their merit alone but it’s nice to know that the golden oldies will still play on your next-gen machine. There are two big problems with the PS3; first, it’s not out yet. Some estimations put the release date in 2007. Second is the price – there have been estimates that put the price between $600.00 - $800.00. Ouch. Of course Sony will also sell a stripped down version that will be without the tech bells and whistles that you really want for around $500.00. Ouch.

Nintendo Wii. Graphics, multiplayer support, wireless interface with the Nintendo DS (two out of three of the Three Chicks have ‘em by the way) and a price tag of $250.00. This makes Nintendo the cheapest of the next gen consoles. Nintendo has, with their “Nunchuk” controller, revolutionized the gaming experience. Think of the Nunchuk as an interactive remote control; in one hand you have a mouse with a thumbstick and in the other you have a remote control that responds to your movements. Let me say that once more, it responds to your movements. Tennis, golf, baseball, sword fighting, etc. each movement that would be done in real life is mimicked inside the game. That’s pretty cool. Sony and Microsoft are not even close to something an interface like this instead they have opted for their old controllers. Hey – way to break new ground! Oh yeah, and it plays your old Nintendo Gamecube games; which I might add we have a slue of.

So there you have it gentle reader. As you can probably tell I’m leaning towards the Wii. As time passes I’ll probably pick up a used PS3 in a year or so. Who knows; if Sony drops the price to something that I wouldn’t have to sell a kidney to afford I might make the jump. I respect the idea that they did not isolate the customer who has been supporting them for the last ten years or so. I just can’t or won’t pay their price to play. We’ve never had an X-box so jumping on now would be a good starting point but I have serious doubts that X-box 3 would play the games that I have invested in with the 360. That’s a sad business mentality. Oh well. For the EC-5, I do believe that there may be a Nintendo Wii under the Christmas tree. It’s cheap, powerful and will play the games that we have already bought as well as the new stuff. Those controllers aren’t too bad either. Check this out for yourself: Yeah, they are pretty cool.

See you on line for a Wii!

Friday, September 29, 2006

What’s New?

Yeah, I know. It’s been forever since I’ve posted. Well, what can I say, life happens. There have been a lot of genre releated things going on recently. Here’s the ones that stick out in Evil Chicken’s head.

Please let me gush about the casting for the “Iron Man” movie. Robert Downey Jr. is going to make a wonderful Tony Stark. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. He’s simply a great actor and he will be able to deliver the goods when it comes to a complex character such as Stark.

Complex – you ask; from a comic book? Yeah, take it from me or better yet do a Wikipedia search for yourself – or better still since your mind is made up on the subject go read someone else’s blog. Oh and thanks for stopping by!

Speaking of comics to film, Frank Miller’s “300” has some amazing spin. Most certainly opening night material. I believe that it’ll be out in the spring of ’07. The Spartans, hopelessly outnumbered, made their stand and “drew a line in the sand for democracy.” It will be visceral but it will be some great storytelling as well.

“Ghostrider” will be gracing the big screen in early ’07 as well. I’m really starting to salivate for this one. They have tweaked some things but, for my money, they were things that should have been tweaked. Johnny Blaze still strikes a deal with the devil, which is as it should be according to comic cannon. The Ghostrider, however, needs to be bonded to a human soul (Blaze’s) and he is a bounty hunter from Hell. In other words, when the really bad guys escape from Hell, the devil sends his bounty hunter after them for retrieval. Nice.

“I Am Legend” is currently shooting in New York City. This marks the third time that Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” has made it to the big screen. Vincent Price and Charlton Hesston were the first to portray ‘Robert Neville’. Will Smith will be taking the lead this time. It should be great. I’m not usually one for remakes but “I Am Legend” is one of those stories that I actually enjoy seeing retold every now and again.

I do apologize for this posting. I continue to be quite busy – writing the ‘great American novel’, assisting with church, aiding my friend with his 5 minute film (which kicks major butt, BTW) and work. Still and all it’s good to post again.

See ya soon!

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Bradbury Challenge

People throw around he word, “legend” as if it were a handful of peanut shells at a steakhouse these days. Advertisers and public relations people constantly use the word to sell you material goods or ideas. That’s what they do and I don’t begrudge them for it – still dissemination occurs. The word “legend” is in danger of losing its impact. Fortunately for us true legends still walk the earth; their impact still reverberating through the past & the present and will be felt long into the future. Cities may crumble and tales will go in and out of fashion but a legend – that will endure.

Am I pouring it on enough – perhaps too much? No, not in this case; the legend I’m talking about is Ray Bradbury.

I was poking around the official Ray Bradbury site ( and found a choppy Quicktime interview with one of my all time favorite authors. The interview, for some reason, is cut into a dozen or so segments. Perhaps, ultimately, this is due to the fact that Mr. Bradbury does not have an active interest in the internet; come to think of it his choice of the dissemination of story is a big electric typewriter that he has used for years. His site (or web presence) was pieced together by his publishers at Harper Collins and he doesn’t have too much to do with it.

Please forgive me I’m digressing.

On this page (, in one segment of the interview entitled, “Bradbury of Short Stories”, Mr. Bradbury says, “…You defy yourself to write 52 bad short stories in a row – and it’s impossible. Somewhere along the line you’re gonna write a good one.” This statement started me to thinking. What a great idea; 52 short stories – a years worth of stories! As Ray said himself, “…they cant’ be all bad.”

…Well, maybe?

So this being said, I’m thinking of accepting the Bradbury Challenge but first there are certain things that I must do, first I’m going to finish my novel, “Bonny, Read & Rackham”, then I may participate in Nanowrimo ( that is coming up in November. After these literary feats of wonder I think I’m going to accept the Bradbury challenge. When a legend suggests something like this I must ask myself the question – hey, why not? After all, they can’t all be bad.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rouge’s Gallery

How wonderful be this little treasure, Lads and Lasses?

It came out last week and I need to track down a copy ASAP. It’ll make a great soundtrack to “Bonny, Read & Rackham.” I had heard that this was being produced but I had no idea that it was already out. Besides I haven’t heard any Sting in a long while.

The novel, by the way, is coming along quite nicely. Now if I could only take off for about a month or two to finish; yeah that would be about right… Ah, if wishes were horses then all men would ride.

I do apologize gentle reader, that I have not been updating things, as I should or updating them with any eye to quality. Do forgive me; I’ve been wicked busy. Principal photography is now done on my friend’s film entry for “On the Lot” and now the editing process begins. The whole project has been a complete joy; I only hope that my ‘acting’ will hold up long enough to be of some use to my friend. You know, they say that the camera adds ten pounds – I just wonder how many cameras he had on me while he filmed!

I promise that I will pass along any information on the film when it is ready to be viewed and/or voted on. Until that time let me just tell you that the film is called, “Borrowed Time.” My friend is a talented fellow and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

Until next time, shipmates – I bid you adieu.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Lights, Camera… ACTION!

Alright here’s an update on my friend’s film that he will be submitting for the Fox reality TV show, “On The Lot” that will be aired in the Spring of 2007.

We are having a blast making this short. I can’t really go into gory details but, as our director says, it’s a horrific take on ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The man who is playing the lead is spot on for what he needs to do and his voice and intonation are going to be perfect for the part. My friend needed a balding fat guy as one of his actors and, low and behold, yours truly is in the short too. May God have mercy on the production.

We’ve shot the interior scenes at the director’s house. Soon we will be shooting inside a local tavern and, after that, on one of the main streets of a local city. He has already received permission from the mayor to have the 600 block at his disposal for a few hours on an upcoming Saturday.

This has been an amazing experience thus far and I have learned that the next great leap forward, concerning filmmaking, will not come from L.A. or N.Y., no; the next revolution will be right out of peoples own garages. The technology is here and people will use it. It is now possible to write, shoot and edit amazing work with a computer and a decent camera. It’s amazing. Don’t believe me? Go check out You Tube for a couple of flicks. You will soon be a believer.

We shoot at the tavern on Monday. I’ll let you know how it goes.


The good people from Aint’ It Cool News ( recently sponsored a contest to win one of four “Brisco County Jr.” DVD packages. Contestants had to write a story where members of the AICN staff were mingling with the characters form the show. Well this got my attention and my geek blood pulsing. I decided to use Quint, an AICN staff member and Dixie Cousins, Brisco’s love interest on the show. Quint usually does interviews of actors or directors on how they approach what they do in the film industry. He then follows up his interviews by asking the individual what their favorite dirty joke is; it’s a disarming and challenging technique that reveals subtleties the interviewee and lets the reader decide it they have a sense of humor or not. Anyway, I transplanted a “Quint” interview back to Brisco County Jr.’s time. Corny? Yep. Oh well, so was the TV show – which I loved BTW. Gentle reader, I post it here for your potential enjoyment – and to let you know what I’ve been up to recently. Enough yapping; here’s the goods…


Ahoy Squirts! Quint here with all the coverage of he Concert Saloon and Variety Hall circuit. I recently had a chance to sit down and speak with Ms. DIXIE COUSINS. She was just coming off stage from her third performance of the evening at the “Howling Cat Saloon” in San Francisco. Ms. Cousins is a professional and consistently delivers one wonderful performance after another – night after night. She is an engaging performer and was kind enough to answer some of my questions. So pull up a bottle of sarsaparilla, kick back and enjoy.

“Ms. Cousins? Ms. Dixie Cousins?”


Hi, I’m with ‘Ain’t It Cool News’ out of Austin Texas.”

“Harry’s rag! Oh, I love you guys!” Her face really lights up at this news. “And which one are you? Wait, let me guess.” She looks me up and down. “Glasses and a sharks tooth hanging around your neck – you’re Quint aren’t you?”


“Guilty. I suppose you read us?”

“Oh yes. You guys are great.”

“I know that you don’t have too much time between shows but would it be alright to ask you some questions for our readers?”

“I’m all yours, Mr. Quint. Well, at least for the next five minutes.”

She has a smile that lights up both on and off stage. I look down behind the curtain as the next act sets up. There is an odd looking man in a wide brimmed hat holding a green apple heading our way. Not knowing how much time I’ll have with Ms. Cousins, I start asking questions.

“So what’s your favorite number?”

“42.” She said.


“Musical number.”

“There’s an easy one. It’s a little ditty called, ‘File My Claim.’ I like it because it’s so flexible – you can sing it anywhere for almost any audience.

“That is a great number – a little spicy, but wonderful.”

“Mr. Quint, I’m surprised at you. Here I thought that you liked things a little spicy.”

Before I can answer she starts to giggle, shattering any problems that I may have had with my ego. The guy with the apple joins us.

“Mr. Quint, allow me to introduce a friend of mine; this is Brisco County Jr.”

I’m taken back with the name. After all, Brisco County Sr. was one of the finest lawmen that the western territories have ever seen. This man is the son of a legend.

“I didn’t know that Brisco County had a son.” I’m blurting but I can’t help myself.

“Neither did he.” He said turning his attention to Ms. Cousins. He asked her something about whether or not she had seen Comet recently. She told him that she hadn’t. He nodded at me and walked off seeking whatever ‘Comet’ was.

“I apologize Ms. Cousins. I didn’t mean to offend him.”

“Him! It’ll take a lot more than something like that to offend him, believe me.”

“What is ‘Comet’?” I ask. I had to know – in for a penny, in for a pound.

“It’s his horse.” She said. “They have a very good relationship.”

She must have seen the look on my face. It’s not every day that you hear of the bonds between a man and his horse.

“He understands the neighing.” She said not once breaking her tone. “Did you have anything else that you wanted to ask me?”

“Yes, of course. What are your feelings toward speculations that Vaudeville will replace the Variety Circuit?”

“Honey, there will always be a place where a man can get a drink and be entertained by singing and dancing. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good idea to have people come out and be entertained but, I ask you, who is going to go someplace where they don’t serve alcohol? Not my clientele, Mr. Quint."

As if on cue a voice cuts into our conversation warning us that she has only one minute until curtain. I can hear the band working up the first few bars of ‘File My Claim.” The tones of it have a French quality to them. Ms. Cousins reads the question on my face before I get a chance to ask it.

“As I said, it is a flexible song. Depending on the room I could be singing it as ‘Ms. Cousins from Paris France or Ms. Cousins from Tequila Mexico – any way the band plays it that song fits the room. That’s the sign of a timeless piece of music, Mr. Quint. I love that sound.”

I thank her for her time and she collects herself, preparing to go out on stage for the fourth show of the evening. Just before she rushes off I remember an important question.

“Ms. Cousins! Before I forget, what is your favorite dirty joke?”

She breaks into a wide grin.

“Well, it’s funny you mention that. I just heard this…”

Her story is interrupted by the band’s rising volume. It’s time for her to go. She graces me with an apologetic look as she takes her place center stage for her fourth curtain of the evening. The curtain rises and her song begins anew.

So there it is Squirts, my interview with one of the finest talents of our time, Ms. Dixie Cousins. Next week I’ll be checking out what many are calling the future – Vaudeville! Until then keep yer eyes glued to Harry’s Rag!

– Quint

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Catching Up

Gentle readers, it has come to my attention that I haven’t posted in a few weeks. I wanted to remedy this and, by gum, that’s just what I’m gonna do.

There have been three big factors at work in my neck of the woods most recently. Factor 1 – My wife has been ill with a migraine that has lasted; going into two weeks now. We are following up with every possible option. As always, any outcome is in bigger hands than mine. Get well Baby. Factor 2 – I’m deep into the process of writing a novel. Currently I’m in chapter 23, of ‘Bonny, Read and Rackham’ and it’s going great. I’m in the zone. Believe me you will hear more of this in the coming weeks and months. Factor 3 – I’m assisting a friend and his assembled cast and crew with a short film that is going to be entered into a new reality television show sponsored by Fox and Steven Spielberg. My friend is directing and (God help us) I’m one of the actors. It’s going to be a blast. There’s a lot of energy flowing and we are going to start shooting tomorrow night.

So there you have it, the most current three factors in the life of Evil Chicken. Hey, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

“Pirates of the Caribbean II – Dead Man’s Chest” is about to be released later this week on 7/7/06. While I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie on the big screen I can’t help but think of the potential fall out that may come in its wake. Controversy? - No, not at all; well at least not on a grand scale. What I mean is something a little more personal. You see, gentle reader, successful films breed other films in the same structure or vein. Why mention this? Well, back in October of 2003 I happened to write a treatment for a pirate story entitled, “Bonny, Read & Rackham”. It is a dramatization of the lives of three pirates who really existed – two of them happened to be women. I scripted it and currently am in the process of novelizing their story. I’ve got it all set before me, the beginning the middle and the end. History has already been written so all I do is let them whisper in my ear to connect the dots, so to speak, in fleshing out their story. It does not take much to get those ghosts talking. They have a story to be told. The crux of the matter is that their story is just too good to not be told.

Writing is a form of voyeurism. You listen to voices, see things that they see and record their deeds. You bare witness. Weird huh?

So what’s the big deal? Good question, my friend – let me get to the meat of the matter. I cannot tell you how many times that I have had ideas and projects that I have told to others or entered into contests or pitched to film studios that have been taken and developed without yours truly attached. Now I realize that the words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 1:9 are true, “…there is nothing new under the sun,” but good grief…

I told my wife about something I was working on called the “Prometheus Foundation”. The premise was that Frankenstein’s Monster was alive and well in today’s world – the mysterious head of a major corporation working in research and development. I gave her the basics one winter while we were shoveling snow out of our driveway. Simplistic? Yeah. It wasn’t two days later that I heard about a project from a couple of guys that worked with the Wachowski brothers on ‘The Matrix’ trilogy called, “Doc Frankenstein”. It was a story where Frankenstein’s Monster was alive and well in today’s world; instead of being an enigmatic head of a shadowy corporation the Monster was some sort of super solider. Different yet closed enough for me to stop working on the project.

In the year 2000, my writing partner, who happens to be quite a talented fellow, and I got wind of ‘Project Greenlight.’ It was being produced by HBO, Matt Damon & Ben Afleck. At the show’s heart is to give new writers and directors a chance to do something in the film business. The concept is simple enough write a script or film a piece, be judged by your peers and the most voted for wins – one winning script and one winning director. Pretty neat, no? Yeah, we thought so too. We wrote a comedy entitled, “The Life of Robbie.” It was a funny first effort. It was gorilla comedy – we took now prisoners. It was about a former child actor who had fallen on hard times. Our protagonist turns to a life of crime in order to regain his lost notoriety and rekindle his career. We crafted what we thought would be an entertaining movie, converted it over to a PDF file and uploaded it to the Project Greenlight sight for judgment. Yes, we registered it with the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America), but we uploaded it nonetheless.

We didn’t win and justifiably so. It was our first effort and we didn’t yet have our technique down or any real idea what the standard was for a movie script. Still and all our reviews were pretty good by those who got it; those that didn’t thought it was a lowbrow, lowest common denominator comedy – ironically the very thing that we were shooting for. Ah success!

Time passed and a movie gets released from a major studio entitled, “Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star.” Hey, what do you know, it happened to be about a guy trying to regain his lost notoriety who happens to be a former child star. The film was more for a family audience than our script so instead of a life of crime the protagonist tries to buy his way into a family.

Great minds think alike, no?

We got word about a screenwriter conference in Los Angeles, packed our bags and flew out to California to pitch our ideas to the big studios. We regrouped and wrote a new story entitled, “Chick Flick.” We ratcheted up the rapid-fire comedy spoof and shish kabobed the Hollywood machine that spews out so many chick flicks onto a wholly unsuspecting public. Yep, there’s some pretty funny stuff in there and our technique improved to. Much of this was due to our reading up on the craft in books and magazines and the fact the my writing partner procured a copy of a program called, ‘Screenwriter 2000.’

Well, the long story short was we got some nibbles for ‘Chick Flick’ but ‘The Life of Robbie,’ was too close to ‘Dickie Roberts – Former Child Star’ to be considered for production. Hmm. We pitched ‘Chick Flick’ together, my partner pitched some of his personal projects and I pitched, ‘Bonny, Read & Rackham.’ I handed my treatment to a pair of spec producers who worked for a European firm and a talent agency.

We flew back to New Jersey and found out that Project Greenlight was going to go into production once more. Of course we entered again. Uploaded our WGA covered script to the Project Greenlight website for the world to see, read and judge. Once more those that got it loved it and those that didn’t didn’t. We didn’t win but our style had improved.

At least we had that going for us.

Time passed and another movie came out to local multiplexes across the country. Ours was called “Chick Flick” and this one was called, “Date Movie.” What do you know, it was an over the top satire that spoofed romantic comedies. I even think we pitched our idea to the company that made "Date Movie" while we were in L.A.

Isn’t “Simulations Development” a kick! Yeah, good times – good times.

I’m not saying that our ideas were necessarily stolen. I know that there is such a thing as “simultaneous development” – I know that there is nothing new under the sun. Fortunately, my writing partner has been doing well. He has been a finalist and a semifinalist for his most current project (which is some of his best work to date, by the way). Will we ever join up again for Project Greenlight? I doubt it. For all of its best intentions the contest is most certainly prejudiced aginst comedy and ideas can be exploited all too easily – or rather, “simultaneously developed.”

Sour grapes? Maybe yes - mabey no.

I believe that the best thing one can continue to do is continue. I haven’t stopped writing and someday it would be a hoot to participate in making a film although I have more faith in independent film than I do in ‘Hollywood’. What of “Bonny, Read & Rackham”? Mark my words – it is only a matter of time before this is brought to the big screen or somebody writes a best selling book. My friends, I hope that this time, yours truly will be involved.

Now that would be a refreshing change of pace.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A friend passed away this past Wednesday. She was a wife, a mother and an inspiration to a whole community here in South Jersey. She was our pastor’s wife. To say that she was an inspiration to her would have made her blush. She would have shooed away such a statement and would have said that the glory is all God’s.

I know there to be truth in both arguments.

Her memorial service was held today. There were approximately 700 people that came to the service from all around the world. Lives that she had touched, people that she had met and shaped in some fashion along the way. In her life and in her family she put Jesus first – everything else fell into place from there. This is what I most desire for my family, as well; a Christ centered home. Her husband – our pastor and their children live for and shine for Jesus Christ. Bottom line. Their testimony is where the rubber hits the road for us – Christians, that is.

“God’s word means everything or it means nothing.” Our pastor said this at Sunday services. These words have echoed in my mind and heart. He is absolutely right. There is nothing clearer than this – it is black or white; no gray at all. The words of Jesus from John 14:1-3, “ 1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Christ’s words either mean everything in ones mind, heart and soul or they mean nothing.

“God’s word means everything to me.” Pastor said.

I remember first coming to Calvary Chapel in Vineland. Tammy was one of the first people that we met. I remember her as our Christmas Choir director. We all met every Thursday from September to December. It was a daunting task keeping everyone straight and on target but she did. The noises we made were joyful ones (at least that is my sincere hope). It was a time I will never forget. I remember how she loved her family – her children and grandchildren. She always lit up around kids or with a child in her arms. I remember how she loved her husband and how he loved her. The two were well met along the path, so to speak and made an amazing team. I remember how she reflected the heart and love of Jesus Christ in her life – it was palpable, real; one could sense it. What more can I say? There is nothing greater.

God called one of his children home. I celebrate her life and miss her presence here yet still John 14:1-3 rings true. A place was prepared for Tammy as soon as she accepted Christ as her savior and now she home. Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Someone precious has been called home and, as one of her beloved grandchildren said, “there is dancing in heaven.”


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Assateague Island 2006

As a tradition in the Evil Chicken household, Father’s Day weekend is spent camping on the beach as Assateague Island, Maryland, with the wild ponies. It’s an wonderful spot in the world and you should, if at all possible, check it out. The wild horses of Assateague are ever-present and pose the interesting question, “where did they come from?” One theory suggests that early settlers, in an attempt to avoid taxation on their herds, let them graze on the wilds of the island. Another suggests that the ponies were marooned on the island during a shipwreck. Only time knows the real answer and its not talking. If you camp there be sure to lock up your food since they have been known to raid campsites and coolers for food. Currently it is a $250.00 fine to feed the wild horses – emphasis on the “wild.” They have been known to bite and / or kick the more curious tourist.

There are much more species of wildlife to take in while on the island. Pods of dolphins swimming off shore, birds, snakes, crabs, deer and, I would be remiss as to not include the Mosquito; are all more than plentiful here. If you are camping make sure that your site is ocean side with a good breeze to blow those little bloodsuckers off course. They are thick.

The island is most certainly worth the trip for it’s beaches. The kids and I spent the majority of our time getting slammed around by some pretty good pounders. It was a blast. If you surf, boogey board or kayak the waves you should check it out. The water quality is better than that of my home state of New Jersey and the waves are better too. This may be due to the lack of man made jettys that litter the Jersey Shore. It’s possible to make out ones feet in chest deep water in Assateague – that’s something that one cannot usually do here in Jersey.

The island is a national park and not touched by the touristy glitter that Ocean City, Rehoboth and the other barrier islands provide. Hey, Teddy Roosevelt knew what he was doing. If you are so inclined for experiencing the outdoors, have a head for camping and like seeing heart stopping sunrises from the beach, do yourself a favor and go to Assateague – you will not be disappointed. I'm already looking forward to next time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Return of the Time Lord

Last year the BBC struck up production on a new Doctor Who series. This set my geek heart to glowing. The original Doctor Who started in 1963. I started watching right after the third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee, regenerated. Growing up in the seventies Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, was the one I was most familiar with. You know they guy – frizzy hair, long scarf? He and his companions would travel through time and space righting wrongs, dispensing justice and exploring the time stream. After Baker regenerated and Peter Davidson became Doctor number five, I still watched. I watched until PBS, the only station that carried it in my neck of the woods, dropped it altogether. I loved that show and, shock and awe, I still do.

The BBC waited a year to ship it to the United States to be broadcast on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was worth the wait. Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth regeneration of the Doctor and Billie Piper plays his companion, Rose Tyler. It’s through Rose’s eye’s that a new generation of Whovians are introduced to the universe of Doctor Who. Rose is a contemporary young woman from South London. Seeing her discover who the Doctor is and what he’s about is pure frosting. The TARDIS the Doctor’s time/space ship is back with its damaged chameleon circuit leaving it stuck in the shape of a 1950s Police Box. Having the Doctor back has been delightful.

If you get it then good on you mate. If you don’t then you’ve probably stopped reading by now. Here’s an excellent site ( for the history of the Doctor and his now 10 regenerations. Mr. Eccleston has left the show (I just saw it happen on the Sci-Fi Channel) and now the Doctor is on his tenth regeneration played by David Tennant. Rose is still his companion and I hope it stays that way for a long time.

The newest season has just finished up in England. That means the there is whole other season of new Doctor Who that has yet to reach American shores. It can’t happen soon enough for this fan boy. I loved Eccleston in the role but I’m looking forward to seeing Tennant do his thing.

Until the next season splashes across American television, may the face of Rassilon smile upon you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The End of War

"Only the dead have seen the end of war" – Plato

Who am I to speak of war? I have never been enlisted in any branch of the service and have never been involved in armed conflict apart from having an arrow shot at me once when I was younger. I have been blessed – I’ve reaped the rewards of living in a free society. I am a student of history (to a certain extent) and an active participant in the democratic process (I vote). I try to be conscious of what is happening around me. As of the writing of this particular article, I still live in a Democracy; one with free speech. Now I am aware that “Freedom is never free,” and that the life that I enjoy in these United States was purchased with the blood of many whom successfully fought for life and liberty. My father fought in the Korean War, my father in law fought in Viet Nam. I have friends who fought in the Gulf War and have others who were/are serving in Iraq. I have nothing but respect for them all. Battles hard won and lost; each preserving our existence – our ‘way of life’. You don’t have to go too far to run into honest to God heroes; chances are you may rub shoulders with quite a few yourself. Thank them. They do and have done a job that I wouldn’t want to do. I tell you this so you know where I stand when it comes to the people on the ground in this latest conflict; Iraq.

General William Tecumseh Sherman is credited with the oft quoted, “War is hell.” He knew what he was talking about. In an open letter to Mayor Calhoun of Atlanta and others dated just before his “March to the Sea” through the city of Atlanta (Sept. 12, 1864), he wrote, “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace." He wrote this letter in response to the city asking to be spared during wartime. Sherman knew what war was. He did not have to answer to any politically correct coercion from a populous with its heart in the right place sitting as far away from the frontline as possible. He knew that war was not pretty or glorious or that it could be sanitized and held to words such as “rules”. He knew the real answers to what war was death, gore, suffering, destruction; things that cannot and will never be sanitized.

Nor should they be.

General George Patton said, “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton knew as well. You win wars by making people die. Bottom line. You either commit to do so or you shouldn’t go to war. General Douglas Macarthur said, “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” These generals knew the high price of victory.

What of human rights? War is a state of perpetual human rights violations – do not kid youself into thinking otherwise. The correct application of horror and fury will win a war. When an army or a people question this they are either in for a long indesicive ground conflict or a lost war. “There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.” – Sun Tzu. He also said, “What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.” He too knew what he was talking about.

All this brings me back to Iraq. These generals are now part of our history; their actions shaped the world that we live in. I believe that their words mean something and are applicable to the times that we find ourselves in. You either bring war or you send a dangerous mixed message to the world and to your enemy. Anything else is a needless sacrifice of life in a prolonged conflict with no end in sight. If a state of war is conveluted then the perhaps the best thing to do is pull out the warriors and let the diplomats go in. It is impossible to have it both ways.

"Find the enemy and shoot him down. Anything else is nonsense." – Captain Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron"), 1917

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Pilgrimage to Cabelas

Being from the Swamps of Jersey, I’ve spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Fishing, boating, geocaching, exploring, hunting, inbreeding, – believe it or not, South Jersey’s got a lot to offer.

Just kidding about the hunting part. ; )

This past weekend the Evil Chicken 5 and some friends of ours made the pilgrimage to Cabelas in Hamburg PA. What’s Cabelas? Check out If you do anything for earnest in the great outdoors then you probably already know; if not it is the outfitter for whatever expedition you may be planning; fishing, hunting, camping, boating, geocaching – whatever; if there is an adventure waiting to happen Cabelas can supply what you need. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for their corporation; it’s just a matter of fact. They are the premier destination for people who like to be outside.

The place is located about a mile away from the Appellation Trail and on a mountain in a Pennsylvanian valley. There’s a river nearby too. The place; it is immense. There is an aquarium, an African savannah full of appropriate taxidermies and the centerpiece of the store, “Conservation Mountain”, where more taxidermies are displayed in representations of their natural habitat. The different sections of the store are really something to see. The fishing section was easily as large as your average Boarders or Barnes and Nobel; that’s just fishing. That’s not too shabby. The same can be said for their hunting section. Camping is upstairs along with a restaurant and a home and outdoor art section. There’s a mock bush plane hanging from the rafters as well. Wow. The kayak section was pretty wonderful as too. They sell Old Town and Emotion kayaks as a general rule of thumb. The guy who worked in the department and I struck up a conversation about paddling. He knew what he was talking about and I could tell that he loved the sport. That’s refreshing since places like Dicks are usually staffed by moronic pubescent drones who have no passion for what they do other than putting in their time and cashing their paychecks. No passion for getting my hard earned dollar? No business from Evil Chicken – I don’t fund that, savvy?

Any way, I know this is sounding like a commercial but if you get the chance to go – do so. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Things to Do Before I Die

Many people have such a list – I’m no different. Oh some of my aspirations and dreams may be different than other people, but I’m not out of the ordinary. The following list is a work in progress and is dependent on many variables including time (off from work & with or without the rest of my family) and money (the root of all evil). Time and money are two things that I don’t have an abundance of. Oh well, as Mother Goose said, “if wishes were horses than beggars would ride.” Items such as being a better example of a Christian, being a better friend, father and husband are givens and not on this list. The following is my self indulgent and gluttonous wish list in no particular order…

1. Kayaking with whales. Yeah its nuts, but it’s also cool. Just knowing that a 10-ton animal is beneath you sounds pretty exhilarating to me.

2. Hiking the A.T. Just recently I hiked the NJ portion (Highpoint) of the Appellation Trail with two friends of mine. It was awesome. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do ever since reading, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson; who introduced me to the concept of “Through Hiking.” Although we only day hiked, my appetite has been whetted. I started a smooth rock collection on 5/20/06, the date I wrote on my first rock from the NJ portion of the A.T. Hey, I’ve only got 13 more to go!

3. Snorkeling across coral reefs and with stingrays. I love water – I grew up around the stuff. Most of the family would love this too.

4. Expedition to the Grand Canyon. One could spend a lifetime exploring this land; I wouldn’t mind donating a year or so to it.

5. Sea Kayaking. Maine, the Dry Tortugas, Lake Meade, the Thousand Islands, New Brunswick, the list goes on and on. Did I mention I love water?

6. SCUBA! Port Royal, NJ wrecks, the Florida Keys, the Jesus of the Deep and the Queen Anne’s Revenge to name a few.

7. I’d like to take the family through the lower 48 states, push up through British Columbia and onward to Alaska! Write about the whole experience.

8. Alaska. All one has to do is say the name and it conjures up images of the raw wonder of nature. If adventure had a state – it would be Alaska. Why not experience it with the wife and kids?

9. White water rafting. I’ve shot class III’s and IV’s, now I want to turn up the volume.

10. Rappelling. It looks like a lot of fun and is quicker than the elevator.

11. Spending a lot of time in Maine. Arcadia National Park – I’ve been there twice and there is still so much to explore; like the rest of the state. Awesome natural wonder.

12. Get published. I just might have to take matters into my own hands for this one. “Bonny, Read & Rackham,” has a nice ring; no?

13. Learn how to sail and navigate with the stars. I scrapped, polished and painted an 18-foot sailboat prepping her for open water during a six-month period of time. I never got a chance to sail her. I’d like to know what it’s like. I’ve been on day excursions on schooners but there is a difference between being a passenger and a participant. I want to participate.

14. Have a hand in making a film.

15. Fish like Ernest Hemmingway did down at the Florida Keys while tanked on a couple bottles of whiskey. Just kidding – I want to land a big fish off the keys. I think the girls would dig this too.

As I said, this is a self-indulgent, gluttonous wish list. Between you and me, I’ve got a heck of an appetite. The list is subject to change so please don’t confuse this list with goals.

What does yours look like?

Monday, May 29, 2006

X-Men – The Last Stand

Beware lads and lasses; spoiler’s aplenty ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

I just got back from the theater and I thought I’d jot down my first perceptions of the third installment of the “X-Men” movies. Let me be honest, I didn’t have high hopes going in; Bryan Singer (the director and co-writer of X-Men and X2) was not involved whatsoever since he decided to helm the “Superman Returns” project. I also knew that this was a rush job. For some reason Fox wanted to beat “Superman Returns” to the theaters – in doing so “X-Men – The Last Stand” was made in 14 months. That’s quick and there are moments that, if you are a fan of X-Men, you will notice. That being said, Brett Ratner did very well with what he was given. It is cohesive and works as an all out action – war with the mutants – movie; which is what the film shoots for. Where X-Men – The Last Stand is weakest is in the rapid packaging of over 40 years of comic book history into a movie that treats real watershed moments as throw away scenes. Sentinels are relegated to a brief moment in the danger room, Phoenix doesn’t flame into her fiery form, and when Iceman goes into ice mode it’s over way too soon. Each of these scenes is a biggie for any self respecting fan boy. Also, Professor X is a bit of a dick when Wolverine questions his actions toward Jean Grey. Not that the good professor and Logan haven’t squared off in the past, it’s just that this time the kind nurturing Xavier has grown claws. Logan’s a bit weepy too – fortunately, he makes up for it with some decent slice and dice action.

I enjoyed it. If you enjoyed the last two movies then chances are you will like this one. “X-Men” introduced them, “X2” perfected them and “X-Men – The Last Stand” moved their story along; which is much better than I expected. Mr. Ratner had big shoes to fill and he did an admirable job.

Do yourself a favor and stay for all of the credits. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Evil Chicken’s Picks for the Summer Flicks in the year of our Lord 2006

Right off the bat let me say that this is one of my favorite times of year; the summer movie season. The big Hollywood studios roll out their latest offerings to a blockbuster hungry public. They have gambled, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars that their properties will become the next big thing in pop culture. Some win some lose; at times ‘sure things’ such as “Mission Impossible III” don’t perform up to industry expectations for their opening days and are labeled failures. This is an interesting phenomena since in its second week MI:3 was able to best “Poseidon” for the number one spot. Slow and steady still wins races. Needless to say, the big studios have much riding on the summer season. I love to see the dark horse win the race. Films that were never meant for multi-million dollar returns such as “The Blair Witch Project”, “The Sixth Sense”, “Clerks” or the “Evil Dead” series. It does my heart good to know that a cheap, smartly told story can sweep the big boys. Anyway, before you pack up the kids and significant other to hit the local multiplex here is another voice in the crowd, mine.

So, without further ado…

5/19/06, The Da Vinci Code. I’m not talking about ‘controversy’; I did that last blog – I’m talking about story. I hope that Ron Howard and company can deliver. The film premiered at Canes last night and early spin ain’t good. To see or wait for DVD? – THAT is the question!

5/26/06, X-Men – The Last Stand. I’d like this to work. It’s a well-established point that I’m a card carrying GEEK. This time out, however the X-Men have lost one of their most important members, Mr. Bryan Singer the director of X1 and X2. I hope that it’s not terminal. Early spin is mixed. Still and all, it’s X-MEN engaged in all out mutant war; translation: my ticket is already bought.

6/2/06, Nacho Libre. I love Mr. Jack Black with Tenacious D or on the big screen. He chews up every scene that he’s in. He’s energy personified. Add to the mix the writer and director of Napoleon Dynamite and what do you get? Jack Black as a Mexican Masked Wrestler. I can’t wait.

6/30/06, Superman Returns. This will be the 900-pound gorilla of summer; I’ll go even further; it will deserve it. This is the film that Bryan Singer gave up X-Men for. Singer respects the source material. He has a love for the culture and passion for the story. He was steeped in it. Me too. I remember seeing Christopher Reeve on the big screen in 1978 in “Superman – the Movie.” It was and remains to be one of the finest comic adaptations ever to grace the big screen. Mr. Brandon Roth is wearing the cape now with Mr. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. I’m there opening day – no doubt.

7/7/06, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Before this movie films about Piracy were cursed. Fortunately, Johnny Depp has removed this curse. This will be huge for Disney who produced parts 2 and 3 back to back – I expect the third out sometime around Christmas (another decent movie season). It will be fun and I’ll be there opening night with my eye-patch and earring.

7/14/06, A Scanner Darkly. This film is based on Philip K. Dick’s short story. Early spin says that it is the closest adaptation of one of his tales yet. I loved “Blade Runner” (one of my favorite films) and enjoyed “Total Recall” but, if truth be known, neither are really close to Dick’s work. This one is, warts and all. Dick was heavy into drugs when he wrote this and it is reflected in the heavily pharmacological story line. It will be one for the film books; still and all I may have to wait for DVD.

7/21/06, Lady in the Water. This is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film and that’s good enough for me. I love this guy’s work. This tale stars an amazing actor named Paul Giamatti. This man consistantly delivers fine performances – bottom line. The story revolves around water nymphs and the discovery of a gateway into another world. Sign me up.

8/4/06, Apocalypto. Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair for this historical drama that takes place about 600 years ago and just before the fall of the Mayan civilization. As Gibson did in “Passion of the Christ” all of the actor’s dialogue will be speaking the timely language of their characters; in the case of “Passion of the Christ” Aramaic and Latin and for "Apoclaypto" Yucatec Maya (Thank you Wikipedia!). I’d love to see this on the big screen.

8/18/06, Clerks II. Shock of shocks I’m a geek and film geek from NJ that loves Mr. Kevin Smith. I snuck into an auditorium to hear him speak in Philadelphia back in 2003; it was worth the risk. I really enjoy this guy’s work even though the statue of Christ from “Dogma” still makes me cringe. You have to look past the fart and phallic jokes with Smith. If you do you will be pleasantly surprised to find an intelligent and thoughtful filmmaker. “Clerks II” re-introduces Dante and Randal and catches us up on what they’ve been up to all these long years. “Wolvie Berserker Style! Bickity Bam!” – I’m there.

8/25/06, Pan’s Labyrinth. Guillermo del Toro directs this tale of a 12 year year-old girl in 1944 Spain who finds an ancient labyrinth underneath her new home that is guarded by a satyr named Pan. It will be subtitled in English so I hope that it will play at a theater around me. I’d like to support it; del Toro is a unique filmmaker. Unfortunately we have short attention spans here in the United States and don’t like to read subtitles when we go to the movies. It’s a shame really, but alas; such is life at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

These films should keep me occupied but still I’m looking for the dark horse. What independent or foreign film is going to shine? What under funded studio film will run with the big boys this summer? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I like my popcorn buttered and my Rasinettes plentiful.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Chicken Code

I’ve been told that I need to have a more open mind. I was told this by a lady I work with; we were talking about the DaVinci Code and the new movie that’s about to come out. She asked, “what if Jesus’ bloodline existed today?” I said that the argument was "heretical" thinking and that the DaVinci Code is a work of fiction. As I mentioned in the opening of this, I was told that I needed to have an open mind.

To some extent she may have a point. I can be myopic and self-indulgent. Of course, on the other hand, I can see that there are going to be lot of people who will look at the DaVinci Code and immediately jump to the conclusion that it is gospel truth. It’s not; it’s classified as a work of fiction – a fiction based on fact; but fiction nonetheless. Its simple human nature to ask questions and look for the sensation of conspiracy; it’s too rich not to take a passing glance. Dan Brown, the author of “The DaVicnci Code”, in the first opening pages of the book suggests the case for “FACT:” The fiction is what follows. You know what – that’s exactly what any writer is going to do; bring the reader into the web that he is weaving. Bottom line. The more controversy the better! It sells more books, CDs, and whatever other cottage industry for marketing that can be thought up. It’s good for business. Is Opus Dei real? You betcha. How about the Knights Templar? Yup. The Priory of Sion? All real. Gentle reader, there is even a museum in France called the Louvre. Imagine that. Dan Brown is more than pleased that there is such “controversy” surrounding the films release; Pff, who wouldn’t be? He’s giggling all the way to whichever private island he decides to buy. I don’t begrudge him for that at all.

What gets me going is that there are a lot of people who are going to be convinced in some sort of five thousand year old conspiracy. Do you realize how boring it is going to be listening to this ever-evolving latest conspiracy theory? Please! I’m still getting over the Kennedy’s, 911 and Challenger. I’m not even going to mention the word “Roswell”. Don’t get me started on all the time that I had to listen to people drown on about all of this BULL PUCKY.


Read the book. See the movie. Please keep watching Oprah; I’m sure that there will be a new controversy or conspiracy after the opening weekend for this flick. Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave we enjoy sensation. We use it up until it has nothing left to give. This is why we no longer hear from the UFO nuts; it became blasé. Nobody cares. The shot clock is running on this “controversy” too.

Take it for what it is.

Signed a close-minded Evil Chicken.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cerebral Codex

Do you enjoy becoming engrossed inside a story getting lost within the tale? I can. It’s a form of hypnotism when a writer whispers in your ear and the two of you make the images come alive. Sometimes it makes you wonder what else is contained within those magical pages. Maybe as you read a book can you see hidden messages within the text? Such puzzles could become maddening; once identified could they be solved? Where would they take you? What if someone challenged you to “Use Your Brain of Lose Your Mind”?

Does this interest you? If so then you must see this:

“Cerebral Codex,” by Brian Smith is a book that can be appreciated on several levels. The story centers on two men who have slipped into some sort of pocket universe, perhaps two doors down from our own. It documents their adventures in a strange land where they must solve puzzles in order to move forward on their quest. The pair does not know how they got to where they are or exactly where they are going – they only know that they must move on; pushing forward to unlock the next puzzle.

The second level of appreciation is the realization that this is so much more than a novel. The story is riddled with riddles – puzzles that you will see with your first reading and challenges that you will not comprehend until your tenth. “Cerebral Codex” was also realized with the help of Mr. Jeffery Dubois, he and Mr. Smith collaborated on the puzzling aspect of the novel. The encoding, the encryptions; each piece builds upon the last and the trials do not end between the pages of this book. The text points the reader to physical locations and challenges out in the real world to find hidden puzzle pieces to complete the quest. Emphasis on the word “Challenges.” At times the reader will be taken to sets of coordinates in the middle of a swamp or the heart of the Pine Barrens. For the sake of safety it would be wise to tackle such field challenges with a partner. Other books have hidden puzzles and ciphers; most notably “A Treasure’s Trove” which compelled the reader to solve the puzzles and find hidden prizes in the forests across the United States. The joy of Cerebral Codex is that the prize is and always was the quest – the journey. It brings in another dimension for the reader – it becomes its own genre; it becomes Participatory Theater.

The third level is wondering where Mr. Smith and Mr. Dubois will go next. How will they shape the story with their next effort? The shear time that this must have taken to fully realize “Cerebral Codex,” cannot be truly understood or appreciated until one reads the text. Only then will one begin to comprehend just how many mysteries that there are wrapped up in conundrums.

Are you up for the challenge? Pick up a copy of the book and your walking stick. Come to South Jersey. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Films that are Worth a Second Look

As with any form of art, whether or not its any good or not lies strictly in the eye of the beholder. There are some wonderful offerings out there if one is willing to take a chance. The following short list is submitted for your approval.

Donnie Darko (2001) Directed by Richard Kelly. Modern masterpiece. This film suffered at the box office because it opened the weekend after September 11th. Do yourself a favor and rent the director’s cut. What an amazing piece of filmmaking. This is the kind of picture that leaves you with an impression that last long after the film. Trying to find answers to the questions that you come away from after your first viewing will rack your brain and be the fodder for many a conversation over a couple of cups of coffee or a few beers, if one was so inclined. Can one outrun fate? How about those pesky time paradoxes and Stephen Hawking inspired wormholes? Amazing picture.

The Americanization of Emily (1964) Directed by Arthur Hiller. Timely and timeless. It is one of the most intelligent discussions on war ever put to film. It stars James Garner and Julie Andrews. I was lucky enough to catch it on Turner Classic Movies. If by chance you get the opportunity, see it. It will make you laugh and make you think.

Time Bandits (1981) Directed by Terry Gilliam. Lets get something straight; I love Terry Gilliam. The man is a genius – bottom line. The story revolves around a group of dwarves who work for the Supreme Being and a young boy that they scoop up along the way. They steal a map that shows where and when portals in time and space open and close, using them to rob the treasures of history. The Supreme Being wants it back and Evil, played by David Warner, wants to exploit it. It is just an amazing picture in a line of amazing pictures from Gilliam.

Blade Runner (1982) Directed by Ridley Scott. Rick Deckard is a “Blade Runner” whose job is to hunt down and kill “replicants,” genetically engineered – android super beings, that have lived past their allotted years or have gone renegade. He is very good at what he does, but some things are not all they appear to be. This is another film that will stay with you not just because of the jaw dropping shots of a future Los Angeles but because of the revelation of a man who may or may not be all that he thinks himself to be.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) Directed by Edgar Wright. This is one of the films that I would gladly take with me to a deserted island. Simon Pegg is Shaun (he and Wright wrote the film too). The tagline is priceless, “A romantic comedy – with zombies.” What’s not to love? You’ll laugh and you will be surprised as to how much heart and wallop the film brings as well. The characters, which are played as real people under quite extraordinary circumstances, all grow and develop to the point that you really care about their survival. It’s amazing what a man in love with a Cricket Bat can do. Fun film. See it.

All right then, there are five that I don’t believe you should miss. They are most certainly worth a second look.

(All copyrights belong to other entities and I’m not making a shilling off of their efforts.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

What’s in a Name?

People ask, “Hey Evil Chicken, how’d you get your crazy name?” Well, therein lies the tale…

My wife, our two daughters (at the time) and I were at a family birthday party. There were 20 or so kids outside playing within the confines of a large, fenced-in yard while the adults who remained at the party chatted inside about NASCAR, the right to bear arms, insurance rates and the local school district. My cousin, our host, kept chickens in an old wooden chicken coop that sat in the west end of the lot.

“Can you imagine the concentration that a driver has to have?” one father asked me. “I mean, you are really movin’ down that track – 200 MPH!”

“Boy, I’ll say.” I replied taking a sip of coffee.

If I live to be 142, I’ll never get the concept of NASCAR. My love for racing ended when Speed Racer left the airwaves back in the seventies. I’m sure that it is quite exciting and that there are some hard earned lessons to be taken from the spectacle – I just lack the vision to see it. To me, it just seems like a bunch of guys driving cars. That’s a spectacle that I try to avoid on the highways Monday through Friday – I can’t think of a reason to take up any time on the weekend to watch more of it. Still, there I was standing in a sea of black and red tee shirts with number “3s” on them.

“Oh my Gawd! That girl’s gonna get hurt!” a seated woman said. She had just packed the last few crumbs from a thick slice of birthday cake into her jowls.

My wife and I exchanged glances. On some base molecular level we knew that it was one of our daughters. Knowing our daughters and the sheer haphazard destruction that they can wreak, it was almost inevitable. I looked out the window and saw two figures – no, two combatants, the 4 year-old Kathryn and a 2.5-foot tall rooster. I excused myself from the NASCAR conversation, pushed my way through crowd, stepped through the open doorway and, so as not to startle the rooster into doing something rash, I slowly descended the stairs.

Putting one hand in front of me, as if I were a Jedi Knight using the force, I said, “Honey… Step away from the chicken.” No sooner had I uttered these words than my daughter assumed that famous Lou Ferrigno stance from The Incredible Hulk TV show and began to roar.

“Grrr!” she growled. The sound was guttural – the Hulk would have been proud.

The rooster had had enough. This roaring creature was a clear and present danger. A threat to his barnyard was imminent and it was time to show all in attendance just who ruled the roost. He sprang into the air, his talons both raised and ready to sink into my baby’s face. This is instinctual behavior with birds. They go for the eyes. This chicken was going for my daughter’s beautiful eyes. Kathryn pulled back as the chicken struck – instead of blinding my daughter, the rooster inflicted two scratches on either side of her throat.

I scooped up my baby, estimated the rate of decent of the chicken and kicked. My foot connected with the bird, launching it into the side of a nearby outbuilding. It bounced off and scurried away clucking curses in chickenese at my offspring and me.

I carried Kat back to the steps and set her on her feet. She was shaking and breathing heavy. Her scratches were superficial.

“Man, that’s one evil chicken.” She said.

“EXPLETIVE!” the hostess said from the top of the landing. She was furious. Her eyes scanned the yard looking for her husband, my cousin. She found him.

“I want that EXPLETIVE chicken dead! Do you EXPLETIVE hear me?”

My cousin verbalized that he understood. He looked to his older brother and then to me. I knew what was going to happen next. She was the judge and the three of us were to carry out the sentence; capitol punishment – pure and simple. I had never been party to such events. I began to think that DNA evidence would not be needed for the bird’s appeal. His day in court was over and done with. Dead chicken strutting.

“You know, it wasn’t really his fault.” I said. This was true. The bird had escaped from his cage and was protecting himself from the onslaught of the incredible 4 year-old.

“No! That EXPLETIVE bird is dangerous.” She said. “This has EXPLETIVE happened before.”

I looked back to my cousins. The bird’s rights to appeal had been denied. It was time for action. Surprisingly, the bird was easily coaxed back into the outbuilding. I heard later that he had roosted there from time to time. My cousins and I entered behind him and closed the door.

Gentle reader, I will spare the gory details and censure myself. I will leave out the parts about the dull axe, the switched executioners and the three whacks that still kept the head on the evil chicken’s shoulders. Suffice to say that I was the bagman and assisted with the sentence. We deposited the earthly remains in a Hefty bag.

We emerged from the garage with grim expressions on our faces. It was over. The deed was done.

“EXPLETIVE - A!” our hostess said upon seeing the bag in my arms. We deposited him at the curb.

The party broke up shortly after the sentence was carried out. We said our good byes and made our way home, taking with us the weight of the memories of the day.

Time passes, as it always does, and I now pause to reflect – hoping that some part of the evil chicken lives on somewhere. A place where there are no coops or chicken wire or children’s birthday parties – a happy place. I suppose that if I were to attempt a deeper, more heartfelt moral to the tale it would be this; any and all wayward cocks should just stay away from my daughters.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Re-Energized Part II, The Movies

Star Trek movies have grossed over a BILLION dollars worldwide. That makes the Star Trek juggernaut a force to be reckoned with and something that Paramount Pictures will use to their advantage. Some have lamented the “odd / even” curse; which says in the nutshell that the odd numbered pictures are trash and the even numbered pictures are good. I don’t buy that; as you will see by the overly scrutinized list below. For this fan, the Star Trek movies run the gamut from wonderful entertainments to sentences of punishment in small countries.

“Omar, time and again you have failed to heed the chicken licensing laws of our country. I sentence you to three consecutive viewings of Star Trek Nemesis!”

“AHHHH!” Omar screamed as he was dragged away from the judge’s tent. “Not THAT!”

I’m getting ahead of myself. The following are my opinions of the Star Trek movies in order of their releases. Why? You may ask – because I can and I promised a “part II.” : ) Beware lads and lasses, there be spoilers aplenty below…

Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979). After seeing how much money a little film called Star Wars had made in 1977, Paramount decided to appease “Trekies” the world over and dust off their own space opera. I am glad that they did. This movie has taken a lot of criticism over the years; yes it reintroduced Kirk, Spock and McCoy (and on the big screen, no less), but it didn’t mesh with much of the public. Robert Wise directed the film. The guy was a genius, however, he had no idea who the characters were. Even so this is closest hard science fiction effort from the Trek franchise ever and one of my favorites. The effects and score are great. I even loved the tagline, “The human adventure is just beginning.”

Star Trek II – The Wrath of Kahn (1982). To date this is the finest Star Trek film ever to grace the big screen. Directed by Nicholas Meyer who turned Starfleet into a tightly run navy (which is how it should be), this film reached back into Trek history and pulled back Khan Noonien Singh, from the Classic episode “Space Seed.” Khan is pissed at Kirk for marooning him and his people on a dieing planet and he wants his pound of flesh. Great character interplay and story this one has drama, death, mid-life crisis and phaser battles between Federation ships; you can’t go wrong. Mr. Spock dies saving the Enterprise. I saw this picture at a matinee and I was able to blame the afternoon sunshine for my watering eyes; only you, gentle reader, know the truth. This one set the bar for excellence in the movies; it also set the dress code as well. The uniforms worn here influenced each and every successive Star Trek effort since.

Star Trek III – The Search for Spock (1984). Directed by Leonard Nimoy (Spock), a man who knows the world of Star Trek. The remaining crew of the Enterprise hijacks the starship to recover Spock’s body from the Genesis planet and cart him off to the planet Vulcan for a re-fusion with his “Kat-Tra,” the Vulcan soul. Sacrifice, destruction and death still haunt them, as do a particularly nasty group of Klingons. There is a somber tone to this one; it is a bridge – this is part two of a trilogy. In the end the crew’s sacrifice pays off and Spock rejoins his shipmates. This was not an easy task to pull off but Nimoy does. How about that, the needs of the one did outweigh the needs of the many; huh, whodathunk?

Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home (1986). Nimoy is at the helm once more. All of the solemn and sober tones are gone in this one as the crew journey back in time to save the Federation and some extinct humpback whales. This is a light movie but it is a lot of fun. Seeing Spock and McCoy at odds with each other again is great. Each of the crew has camera time, as well. Although much of it is played for humor, you can see why each member of the crew is where he or she is in the Star Trek universe – a professional member of the executive staff of a starship; even if that starship was destroyed in the last film. After saving the world once more, Kirk is made a Captain again and the crew is assigned to their new vessel. Starfleet re-commissions another Constitution Class ship and christens it with the name and registration number, “Enterprise NCC-1701-A.” The sight of it gave me geek chills; dare I say, it still does.

Star Trek V, the Final Frontier (1989). William Shatner had a clause in his contract basically saying that whatever Nimoy gets a crack at, so do I. This clause must have been taken out of his contract after the release of ST5. Until the release of Nemesis, ST5 was considered the worst in the whole film series. Instead of a character driven, holistic view of the 23d century we spend most of our time on Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that the time that we do spend with them is moronic. The three sit around a campfire singing ‘row your boat,’ roasting ‘marshmellons.’ In a plot-thinning move Spock’s brother (?) hijacks the Enterprise to search for God. Set phasers on disintegrate and pull the trigger.

Star Trek VI, the Undiscovered Country (1991). Nicholas Meyer returns to the director’s chair for this one and delivers. I really enjoyed this film. It would have been a wonderful way to end the series with the original actors. That, however, wasn’t going to be the case. Anyway, over the years the title has confused many, however, ‘the undiscovered country’ (yet another Shakespeare reference), is a reference to peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Kirk and crew become the lynch pin between peace and war in the galaxy. Kirk and McCoy escape a Klingon penal colony, Spock and crew solve a mystery aboard the Enterprise and a reunited crew stops an assassination plot. What else can you expect from the crew of the Enterprise? Good story, well paced and plotted. Themes of hatred, reconciliation and forgiveness are at the heart of this one. Excellent stuff. BTW I heard Nicholas Meyer speak at a screenwriter’s convention a few years ago – very cool guy. Star Trek was never mentioned once.

Star Trek (VII) Generations (1994). Directed by David Carson. Generations has always reminded me of Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront” as he laments to his brother that he “could have been a contender.” This movie could have been something special too. It’s not, but it could have been. Oh don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of things in there to keep a fan interested; Data receiving an emotion chip, a glimpse of Enterprise – B, a crash landing of the saucer section of Enterprise – D, not to mention Kirk and Picard on the screen together saving the day; yeah, a fanboy like myself should have been delighted. Unfortunately, this first venture onto the big screen for the crew of the Enterprise – D, is marred by too many good ideas and not enough time to flesh them out. The whole Nexus Wave phenomenon should have been called the Writer’s Convenience Stream and the death of Captain James T. Kirk should have been handled completely different. It’s Captain Kirk; couldn’t there have been a better summation for the life of a tent pole character than to drop him down a crevasse? By plucking him out of the Nexus Wave at the very end of the movie to help save the day the filmmakers ignored any possible character development between the classic and the next generation crews; too bad. If Kirk had been around for the whole film I might have been able to forgive the whole crevasse death thing. They also recycled an effects shot from an earlier movie, which, for some reason, I find annoying.

Star Trek (VIII) First Contact (1996). This one is directed by Commander Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes; a gentleman who knows the Next Generation. It shows. For my money this is to date, the best Star Trek featuring the Next Generation cast. In this one the Borg go back in time to stop the Earth from ever making first contact with an alien race (Vulcan’s BTW). Anyway, this is a fun offering even though it ignored a lot of what was happening in Star Trek’s own timely continuity; i.e. the Jem-Hedar war happening over at DS-9. Oh well. Geordi’s got eye implants now, which is a good thing. Mr. LaVar Burton is an expressive actor and giving him his full facial features to work with was a good idea. I also liked to see the cameo that Robert Picardo did as the Holo-Doctor on Enterprise – E; well done. It is a good entertainment that gave spotlights to each of the crew; unlike what the weaker films do by highlighting one small group of characters. It takes a crew to run a starship.

Star Trek (IX) Insurrection (1998). Once more directed by Jonathan Frakes. This effort has Captain Picard and Co. protecting the ideals of the “Prime Directive,” Starfleet’s number one rule which boils down to ‘don’t interfere with developing alien cultures.’ Picard finds himself defending this principal against Starfleet itself. You see, there’s this planet that emits a re-generative radiation and makes the population very long lived. Some in Starfleet want to know how at any cost. This is a watchable movie, although it feels like a television episode as opposed to a feature film. As a Star Trek movie; it’s passable. The filmmakers dropped the ball almost completely when it comes to the character development of Mr. Data who completely ignores his emotion chip this time out. Yeah, passable is a good word to sum it up.

Star Trek (X) Nemesis (2002). The tenth installment of the series, directed by Stuart Baird, lackadaisically goes where so many Star Trek films have gone before. The tagline for this the movie is, "One Generation's Final Journey." It's a shame that this final journey is so tragically handled. All of the bridge crew reprise their roles, although they are relegated to cameo appearances. While the Enterprise-E may carry hundreds of Starfleet personnel, "Nemesis," at its core is a Captain Picard and Mr. Data flick played effectively, once again, by Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner. No other characters need apply.

As in Star Treks I through IX, the crew detects a strange sensor signals and go to investigate. They find an interesting piece of technology that is brought back to the Enterprise. This plot device is used back in Star Trek VII. There is an IQ dropping Federation VS Bad Guys planet side, off road chase with Picard at the wheel. – Say, why would the Federation invest in a compliment of Dune Buggies when shuttlecrafts and transporter beams can take you wherever you want to go? Good question. – After the races it’s back to the Enterprise where in a surprise move that hasn't been seen since Star Trek VI, the crew is diverted from their current mission to urgent emergency. During this emergency we meet a very personal enemy, much like the Borg were in Star Trek VIII. After some telepathic mind violation, which hasn't been seen since Star Trek VI and some space battles that have not been glimpsed since Star Treks II-III and V-IX, the captain beams over to face his nemesis one on one. That hasn't been seen since Star Treks VIII & IX. There is also an act of self-sacrifice that we haven't seen since way back in Star Trek II! The only difference is that in Star Trek II the viewer cared. The same plot devices are used over and over again; the characters are not used to a shade of their potential.

This one beats out # 5 (which was pretty bad) as the worst Star Trek movie to date; disappointment aplenty. Levar Burton is horribly underutilized and his character's relationship with Data is never underscored like it should have been. I forget if Gates McFaden (Dr. Crusher) had a speaking roll or not and the Romulans, whose make up looks chunkier than usual, do not act like any member of the Romulan Star Empire that this fan has ever seen. Nothing looks real. This is a serious issue since the job of fiction is to make the unbelievable not only believable, but also accepted in the mind of audience. The Herman Munster makeup that the Romulans were is so distracting that it takes the viewer out of where they are supposed to be (the story) and into the realm of camp. Too bad; when this was made Voyager was the only other alternative. The producers had set the franchise to “auto-destruct.”

The time had come for a rest. Star Trek, the franchise that I loved so, had come to a point of mind numbing repetition. The producers were spent and the ideas looked canned. Yes, time for a rest. It has been a few years since there was no Star Trek to be seen on the television or in the theaters. There have been grumblings on the net; whispers of new Trek carried on the winds. Star Trek is now in the process of re-emerging from its cocoon. Out with the old and in with the new. Paramount is under new management and they remember the day when earning profits soared. They want those days back. Enter Mr. J.J. Abrams; the man who will write and direct Star Trek 11. Rumor on the web says that it will be the adventures of a young Kirk and Spock.

BTW Mr. Abrams, if you need any help with the script I’m available. I’ll bring back Q; Picard would join the Q Continuum and become “P.” I’d bring in the entity that Captain Sisko turned into as well. Maybe I’d have the three of them erase the existence of the television series Voyager. I don’t know what I’d have them do with Star Trek – Enterprise (like I said in Part I of this diatribe, I haven’t seen it yet.) I wish Mr. Abrams the best with this latest ‘Re-Energization.’ I can’t speak for all of geekdom, but I can guarantee that I’ll be in the theater when it opens.

Live long and prosper.