Monday, December 31, 2007
“You know… as you get older time will move - it will fly by.” The Old Man said.
“Wow.” I replied.
The aforementioned exchange never really happened. I’ve been aware of the precious nature of time since my eighteenth birthday. But I have noticed as the years have clicked by that those clichés are more than true. I have seen them realized and do you know what? – Those old people really knew what they were talking about.
Tempus Fugit. …No, really. Time flies and as we get older it really flies.
What’s done is done. The past is the past. Gone; never to return. In the words of the philosopher Jimmy Buffett, “…breathe in breathe out – move on.” There’s really not all that much can be done about it now. Make as best friends as you can with the past and walk on. We can make plans for the future but all that really is is a hypothesis and but a hope for what may come.
What we have is right now… (I think).
So RIGHT NOW, Gentle Reader, I wish you the best of all possible outcomes in the New Year. Stay healthy, stay happy, remember to tell those that you love that you love them and understand the difference between what you want and what you need. Enjoy what you have. We are very lucky. There is so much wonder and amazement around us. My hope is to develop the eyes to see that clearer in the coming year and to pass that vision along to my children.
May 2008 be all that you hope it to be.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I agree with “300” and “Ratatouille” since I’ve seen ‘em and know that they are worth your time. The rest are most likely decent rentals though.
And with that; it’s New Years Eve. Do you believe it? I have a few issues with the concept… Still, the calendar must be satisfied.
Happy New Year, Gentle Reader, may it be all that you hope it to be.
Sure you do. So do I.
I remember sitting in a theater watching “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” in the theaters and being physically ill. The couple that we (Mother Hen and I) went with had no appreciation for the original genius that Alan Moore’s graphic novel truly is. No kidding. Alan Moore has the distinction of being listed on Time Magazines 100 Best Novels of All Time List (for the “Watchmen” and not League – but you get the idea); see - http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/the_complete_list.html. The couple we went to the theater with couldn’t understand why I was so upset.
“They completely blew it.” I said. “It’s like they had no idea that the story had been written – that there is an established reality.”
“It was ok.” They said.
“Did you see the same movie I just did?” I said. My jaw dropped open at the end of the sentence.
It was a wonderful evening. The film left such a bad taste in my mouth that it spilled over into my general presentation. I became much like the character Hyde in the film – a ripe jerk.
“But it had Tom Sawyer…” they said.
“TOM SAWYER is NOT in the book.” I explained.
“You mean COMIC book?” they asked.
I shut down. Why bother? Really? Yes I might be a ripe jerk but I was standing with Mr. Moore on this one – he refused outright to have his name attached to the steaming abomination that we had just PAID MONEY out of my POCKET to see.
Please forgive me. I digress. I will eventually get over my bitterness.
What if there was an easy way for me to check into a media product before buying it…
Enter Meta Critic (see: http://www.metacritic.com/). There are other sites like it but I like the scope of what they review; Movies, DVDs, TV, Books, Music and Games – you could say that there is a decent spread.
Feel free to add it to your arsenal of preparedness sites on the web. It’s merely a tool to keep you, Gentle Reader, apprised of your choices before you spend your hard earned money on a well hyped media dud.
Be careful out there kiddies.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
.com that is: http://www.freerice.com/.
I was poking around Neil Gaiman’s web page (http://www.neilgaiman.com/) and read about this little gem. It’s a non-profit that wants to increase people’s vocabulary and feed people at the same time. Not a bad proposition really.
I’m a shlub and can use all the help I can get. Try it out. Learn some words – feed some people.
1. The state or quality of being random.
2. The measure of the extent to which a random action, thought, person, place or thing that possesses this property.
3. A term invented by Chick 1.0.
Last year at Christmas a co-worker gave me an Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader calendar and neglected to say that it was mine for the last 11 and a half months. It’s been sitting on a desk in our office. He explained that he forgot to give it to me last year. No worries. I can appreciate that – hey it’s the thought that counts. This being said please allow me to share some of the Randomosity that exists within the confines of the calendar itself. If you are familiar with the “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” series of books then you may have already heard some of these little factoids. If not then please enjoy…
Adoxography is defined as “good writing about a trivial subject”.
The average person passes gas 14 times a day, totaling 1 to 3 pints worth.
What are Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde’s first names? Henry and Edward.
Blood travels 60,000 miles (96,540 KM) a day as it circulates through the human body.
DeForest Kelly was buried in his Dr. McCoy tunic.
For at least 5 years, the U.S. Army refused to believe that the Wright Brothers could fly.
A dose of rattlesnake venom that would kill a horse barely affects an opossum.
No only child has ever been elected U.S. President.
How long American drivers wait at traffic lights in their lifetime: 14 days.
Algae produce over half of the oxygen humans breathe.
According to plumbers the hardest item to flush down a toilet is a ping-pong ball.
There are an estimated 5 ½ million billion tons of air in the atmosphere.
Earth’s water is 97% salt water, 2% frozen water and 1% fresh water.
Given the opportunity, chimpanzees will hunt ducks.
Playwright Tennessee Williams died when he accidentally swallowed a plastic bottle cap.
Ginger works as well as Dramamine as a remedy for motion sickness.
Quotation marks are the newest punctuation marks in the English language (1600s).
World wide, Christmas has been celebrated on 135 different days of the year.
The ratio of lobbyists to senators in Washington, D.C. is about 75 to 1.
All three of Christopher Columbus’s ships were originally named for Barcelona prostitutes.
Coney Island was once full of rabbits, which New York’s colonists called “Coneys”.
Placed in Frank Sinatra’s casket: a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pack of Camels, a Zippo lighter and 10 dimes (so he’d always have change for the pay phone).
The first Hollywood movie to show a toilet flush: Psycho (1960).
Odds that you will be dealt 4 of a kind in 5 card draw: 1 in 4,165.
Ernest Hemingway rewrote the final page of “A Farewell to Arms” 39 times.
Ownership of squirrels is forbidden in Arkansas, except during October, November and December.
Randomosity is the intent of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader calendar and my daughter made up that term. Please petition the people at Webster’s to include the word in their next edition.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
We dug deeper. No stone was unturned in our investigation. Our search quickly led us to the Forbes website (skip the “welcome screen” and scroll down for the list and companies) – http://www.forbes.com/2007/12/11/richest-fictional-characters-oped-books-fict1507-cx_mn_de_1211fictional15_land.html.
And there we struck gold; as did several fictional characters and companies this past year. According to Forbes this list names the 15 richest people in the realm of fiction. Here is this years top 15:
1. Scrooge McDuck
2. Ming the Merciless
3. Richie Rich
4. Mom (Futurama)
5. Jed Clampett
6. C. Montgomery Burns
7. Carter Pewterschmidt
8. Bruce Wayne
9. Thurston Howell III
10. Tony Stark
11. Fake Steve Jobs
12. Gomez Addams
13. Willy Wonka
14. Lucius Malfoy
15. Princess Peach
Chick 1.0 and myself sought others who had made the list in years past. Though unavailable for comment, Lara Croft (who has been on the list before) has voiced her concern about the legitimacy of “The 15” in a public statement she said, “What does Princess Peach have the I don’t?”
Yours truly feels your pain Ms. Croft – I’m still rooting for you. Of course Ming the Merciless raised my cackles only due to the fact that one man’s treasure on Mongo is just not the same on Earth. It’s easy to see why Wayne and Stark are on the list – as well as Wonka but Scrooge McDuck and Richie Rich? Posers.
Forbes has also compiled a list of the top 25 fictional companies. Here are the listings and in (parenthesis) where they originate from…
1. Choam (Dune – Spice Mining)
2. ACME (Looney Tunes)
3. Sirius Cybernetics Corp. (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
4. Momcorp (Futurama)
5. Rich Industries (Richie Rich)
6. Soylent Corp. (Soylent Green)
7. The Very Big Corporation of America (Monty Python)
8. Forbozz Co. (Zork – yeah baby!)
9. Warbucks Industries (Annie)
10. Tyrell Corp. (Blade Runner – “More Human than Human”)
11. Wayne Enterprises (Batman)
12. Virtucon (Dr. Evil’s Empire)
13. Globex (the Simpson’s)
14. Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)
15. Wonka Industries (Willie Wonka the Candy Man)
16. Stark Industries (Iron Man)
17. Clampett Oil (Beverly Hillbillies)
18. Oceanic Airlines (Lost)
19. YoYoDine Propulsion Systems (the Crying of Lot 49 – BUT I must confess I thought that it came from Buckaroo Banzai – Adventures Across the Eighth Dimension)
20. Cyberdine Systems Corp. (Terminator)
21. d’Anconia Copper (Atlas Shrugged)
22. Gringotts (Harry Potter)
23. Oscorp (Spiderman)
24. Nakatomi Trading Corp. (Die Hard – one of my favorite Christmas movies)
25. Spacely Space Sprockets (the Jetsons)
So what fictional characters or companies did they miss? Forbes wants to know. They’ve got about a year to reconsider the current standings.
I’m still rooting for Lara Croft.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The Christmas Musical, Peace on Earth has one more performance on Christmas Eve. This also happens to be Chick 1.0’s birthday. She is going to be 15 tomorrow. Let me spell that one out – FIFTEEN. We’ve been blessed with great kids. We have a lot of fun and get into a lot of trouble. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Speaking of Peace on Earth – what a blessing. Seriously. It is an honor to be associated with the directors, choir members and tech crew. It’s not about how well we sing or dance or speak, it’s about the birth of Christ and sharing that with others. That is a blessing.
I’m not mechanically inclined but a good friend of mine from church is. He happened to have a used bicycle for Chick 2.0 and one for Chick 3.0. He and I re-greased the bearings and replaced the chain on Chick 1.0’s bike too. The kid’s are going to light up on Christmas morning (I can write this since they don’t frequent my blog – and due to the fact that Christmas is the day after tomorrow). Come springtime we will all be mobile. This has been an amazing blessing.
Then there are the completely unexpected blessings that have hit us recently – things that I will not go into too much depth here but wouldn’t be too hard to coax out of me over a decent cup of coffee.
I’m 39 and well aware that these are the best days of my life. I’m relatively healthy (to the best of my knowledge no open wounds or internal bleeding that direct pressure won’t cure) and so is the family. Come this April, Mother Hen and I will be celebrating out 18th wedding anniversary – and I still love the woman (more now than then). I get to write here on this blog, on puppet scripts each week, short stories, screenplays and the occasional novel. There’s a roof over our heads and a full docket of movies coming to the multiplex in 2008.
Life is good.
Oh I could dwell on the glass being half empty but why? I’ve only got a certain amount of days so why waste them with dreary conjecture over the future? I don’t know what’s around the corner but I do see what is in front of me right now.
I’d rather count my blessings.
Please forgive the sappiness factor of this blog entry, Gentle Reader – It was just something I had to do.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Tonight’s performance of Peace on Earth went very well. There are only two more shows, 12/22 & 12/24 (at 7:00 PM – Calvary Chapel Vineland is located at 930 North Main Rd., Vineland NJ 08360 – it’s next to the Rite-Aid across the street from Larry’s Restaurant.)
No pressure but if you can, come check it out.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
This is taken from his website...
Sunday, December 16
Dan left us this morning at 6:00am . He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side. His strength, dignity and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him.
In May of 2004, Dan was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
A personal letter from D.F. (May of 2004)
I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all of the thousands of wonderful people who have sent such incredibly moving and supportive e-mails via the Living Legacy web site. It is truly overwhelming and humbling to realize how many lives my music has touched so deeply all these years. Each one of you who have taken the time and effort to reach out to Jean and I have helped immeasurably to uplift our spirits and keep us looking strongly forward during some very rough moments. I thank you from the very depths of my heart.
I currently have no plans to return to the concert stage or the recording studio in the foreseeable future, but who knows? At least for now, I prefer to keep my options open.
Again my deepest thanks and love to all,
Now for the sermon.
To each and every man....
I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) and a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test EVERY YEAR.
The medical community suggests this for men over 50, but men with a family history of prostate cancer should start getting tested at age 40.
The PSA test is a simple blood test...it only takes a minute or two. The DRE, okay, every man squirms at the thought of this exam, but hey, it too takes only a minute or two, and IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Prostate cancer can be very slow growing or very aggressive, but detected early while it is still confined to the prostate gland, it can usually be treated and cured successfully.
Once it spreads beyond the prostate it is called Advanced Prostate Cancer (PCa). At this point it becomes imminently more life threatening and harder to treat. Do yourself and your loved ones a huge favor and GET CHECKED REGULARLY. I promise you, you DON’T want to go through what I’m going through if you can avoid it.
Education and awareness are key, I urge you to follow the link below to the Prostate Cancer Foundation web site and read up on how best to protect yourself and reduce your likelihood of contracting this terrible disease.
His advice should be heeded GET AN EXAM.
Mr. Fogelberg wrote a lot of music that really touched yours truly; “The Leader of the Band” still brings tears to my eyes and “Longer” is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest love songs ever written. What can I say; I’m a bit of a softie.
His voice will be missed.
Thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family at this time.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
No pressure or anything BUT if you’re not too busy and want to enjoy an evening out away from the malls, Best Buy and Toys R Us stores swing on by Calvary Chapel Vineland on December 21, 22 and/or 24th at 7:00 PM. The Choir production is going multimedia this year and it’s gonna be fun.
We were initially going to go away for Christmas this year and yours truly was not going to participate. Our plans changed. I’m not trying out for American Idol or anything but if you want to see a singing, dancing, Christmas Story narratin’ Evil Chicken and Mother Hen come on down. Calvary Chapel Vineland is located at 930 North Main Rd., Vineland NJ 08360 – it’s next to the Rite-Aid across the street from Larry’s Restaurant.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Gentle Reader if this was the 23rd Century, the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution would be living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Within the dome would be a completely ecologically balanced world and mankind would only be living driven by the pleasures that the central computer and the robotic servo-mechanisms, would provide.
But there is a catch. Life must be terminated at the age of 30, unless citizens are reborn in the fiery ritual of Carrousel!
Citizens would have a crystal implanted in their palms that would indicate their age; birth to 7 the color of the crystal would be yellow, 7 – 14 years Blue, 14 – 29 Red and Last Day would be Blinking Red. At the end of Last Day the crystal would be black signifying the fact that time is up. Some citizens would happily march to Carrousel – others would not. Those who would run would be tracked by the Deep Sleep Operatives or Sandmen. Once a Sandman finds a runner he “retires” them by tracking them down and making the kill.
You see, I’m a runner – still seeking Sanctuary. If this were the world of Logan’s Run as of today my palm crystal has been black for the last 9 years; I would have been running for the last 9 years. I’m turning into Peter Ustinov’s character from the film; a film that was released in 1976, when I was 8 years old.
I will have to whistle ‘Happy Birthday’ quietly; time is too short to wallow in the past and the Sandmen are converging on my location.
Time to keep running.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Kickin’ it Peter Marshal style, baaaabeeee.
I recently got this in a email from a friend of mine. I thought that I’d pass it along in case you haven’t seen it. I don’t usually spend too much time with email stuff but I thought this was cute.
Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.
Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver (aka Clifford Arquette ): Three days of steady drinking should do it.
Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes.
Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A. Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.
Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A. Rose Marie: No; wait until morning.
Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.
Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I Love You"?
A Vincent Price : No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.
Q. What are "Do It," "I Can Help," and "I Can't Get Enough"?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.
Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie : You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.
Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Paul Lynde : Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.
Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.
Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.
Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.
Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A. Rose Marie : Unfortunately Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.
Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen : Only after lights out.
Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde : Make him bark?
Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde : Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.
Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army
Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.
Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.
Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?
Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver : I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.
Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.
Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh.
Now what channel is the Game Show Network on?
Monday, December 10, 2007
Well, no… not yet anyway. A part of me would miss the feel of a book. I mean really, what reader worth his or her salt doesn’t love that musty smell of old books or being spellbound; getting lost inside the pages of a good story? There is magic there – real magic. There are those who believe that the same enchantment can be had without the use of paper.
They might be onto something. For almost the last 600 years people have turned to the book as the preferred method of idea delivery. Well, the times they are a changin’. E Readers have been around for the last half dozen years or so but they have not really been the house of fire they have promised to be. Sloppy interfaces, copyright infringement, publishing companies, glossy screens have all made the transition from page to screen bumpy. Enter the Kindle from Amazon (amazon.com; that is) > http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/ref=amb_link_6003602_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RYY06HGSKSRT1H05PCR&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=337021901&pf_rd_i=507846.
Pretty cool, no? Having a library at your fingers wherever you go, wireless – always on technology, access to newspapers, periodicals and blogs, not to mention the 100,000 plus novels that are available for download. It’s possible to email yourself Word documents and pictures and there is free wireless access to my favorite second brain, Wikipedia. This little $400.00 number looks to be the next step in making this a paperless world – at least if Jeff Bezos has his way.
Who is Jeff Bezos? Good question. He’s the entrepreneur who envisioned the concept of Amazon; the 900 lbs. gorilla when it comes to online warehouse shopping. Amazon knows one or two things about books and how they are disseminated to the reading public. He’s carved a niche out into a billion dollar industry and now he’s got revolution on his mind. Here’s the Full Monty on the subject; it’s a really good article > http://www.newsweek.com/id/70983/page/1.
There’s always going to be a need for paper but in the future apart from legal documents, shopping bags, toileting purposes and the occasional book collector who enjoys that old musty smell of bound books – it’s days just may be numbered.
Would Franklin and Gutenberg be rolling in their graves? I doubt it – I think they’d both be bloggers and eager to play with whatever new crease technology would allow them to express themselves; their ideas and ideals through.
…Yeah, those two would have Kindles, but then again, so would I if I could afford it.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Have you always wanted to try your hand at acting but never had the opportunity? Gentle Reader, if you have answered yes to this question then I suggest that YOU check this out: http://www.grindhouse-pictures.com/index.html and click on the casting info section to the left.
Ron is a good guy and a talented storyteller. His company Grindhouse Pictures is in pre-production mode for “Sorrow Hill”. He’s having a casting call on December 15th, at the Vineland Ramada Inn at 10:00 AM. If you would like to participate via an audition it would behoove you to drop him an email.
I can’t wait for the premier!
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Are you still with me, Gentle Reader? Good.
I would like to go on record – I love the Eagles; I always have. No need to go into gory details – let’s just say I’m a fan. We (Mother Hen and I) had tickets to see them the last time they toured but the show was cancelled. We have seen Don Henley, though. Great show.
Anyway, I know that it’s probably just a sign of getting older but today’s music has turned into nothing but product for yours truly. I often wonder where the melody went. I’ve speculated over this issue on Chicken Scratch, mind you (check out "Video Killed the Radio Star" from 08/30/07). While I found some decent radio stations for the most part I’ve been forced to talk radio. Well I am happy to report harmony and accord in music are not yet extinct. Proof of this fact was documented with the October 30, ’07 release of “Long Road Out of Eden” where after a 28-year hiatus the Eagles have a new double album (yeah, that’s right, I said it – album) of studio material.
There’s an intelligence to their lyrics as well as a harmony to their sound. Here’s a snippet from a Billboard interview with Don Henley if you don’t believe me; Glen Frey is there too if you click at the bottom of the page. http://billboard.com/bbcom/feature/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003658087
You revisit some of those themes on "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture," where I was sorry to hear that journalism is dead and gone.
It's not completely dead and gone, of course. Obviously, there are still people out there who are trying to do a good job and trying to keep some integrity in the work. But for every one of those people, there are 20 or 30 more that are just in it for... I don't know what. Again, that is part of the cultural junk. The interesting phenomenon in this age is you turn on the news on the television or on the computer and you see all these very serious stories, like the war in Iraq, people dying and people being killed, and children being abducted and murdered. And then here comes "Entertainment Tonight" and "Access Hollywood" and "Hollywood Insider" and all this crap. Same thing when you go [online], you see [these stories] side by side, and we seem to give equal weight to both. Sometimes the trivial crap seems to get more weight and more coverage than the important stuff.
The coverage of this war has been, for the most part, nonexistent, except what the military wants us to hear and what the White House wants us to hear and see. That's what's appalling to me. I don't really want to hear any more about Britney Spears. I don't really want to see the trainwreck.
It's just a continuation of stuff that I've been harping on for a long time now: the dumbing down of our culture and the dumbing down of reporting, and the abbreviation of everything because people's attention spans are so short. Everything is edited and chopped and shortened, from music videos to news pieces. And there's no time or place for in-depth analysis of anything, or reasonable discussion, reasoned dialogue. It's just people yelling at one another. Everything is about confrontation and controversy and sensationalism. There are no quiet voices. The quiet voices of reason get drowned out and stomped on.
Wow. Sanity and a tune you can hum? Welcome back.
Now if I could only grow my hair long (or any) again life would be complete. See you down the Seven Bridges Road.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Herein lies the tale… “Julie Andrews turned 69 – to commemorate her 69th birhday on October 1, actress/vocalist, Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall for a benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was “My Favorite Things” from the legendary movie “The Sound of Music.” Here are the actual lyrics she used:
Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting, Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings. Bundles of magazines tied up in string, these are a few of my favorite things.
Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses, Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses, Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings, These are a few of my favorite things.
When the pipes leak, when the bones creak, when the knees go bad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions, No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions, Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring, These are a few of my favorite things.
Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin', Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin', And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames, When we remember our favorite things.
When the joints ache, When the hips break, When the eyes grow dim, Then I remember the great life I've had, And then I don't feel so bad.
Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd that lasted over four minutes and repeated encores.”
She’s a class act.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
So you’ve opened the presents and are digesting your turkey and/or ham and want to know what to do next? Gentle Reader, a trip to the local multiplex may be your ticket to holiday bliss. Here’re some of the movies that yours truly is looking forward to this Christmas movie season…
“The Golden Compass”, December 7th. I’ve never read any of the books that this is based on but the movie’s marketing campaign is trying to paint itself as the latest epic. I’m all right with that. The kids are interested even though spin has been a little lack luster. We shall see.
“I Am Legend”, December 14th. Based on the novella by Richard Matheson of Twilight Zone fame. This will be the third time that it is being produced for the big screen. The first time Vincent Price played the lead, second was Charlton Hesston – now it’s Will Smith and I cannot wait. I’m in the mood for a good popcorn movie at Christmas time and this promises to fit the bill.
“Sweeny Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, December 21st. Johnny Depp and Tim Burton together again on the big screen. Their collaborations are magic. No doubt I’m buying a ticket. Not for kids.
“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”, December 21st. I enjoyed the first one in all its campy glory and this one looks like fun too. It’s an action flick for the whole family.
“The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep”, December 25th. Bring the kids. It should be good for an undisturbed nap after eating all that food. The kid’s will love it though.
“Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem”, December 25th. This almost didn’t make the list since there’s no way I’m going to the theater to see this and will instead wait for the DVD. Nothing says Christmas Time like two alien species trying to eviscerate each other – if memory serves this was the plot of “White Christmas” too.
Since I’ve been doing Atkins I’m skipping the popcorn and going exclusively for the butter. Next year, at this time, I’ll be basking in the glow that will be the newest installment of the Star Trek franchise. This year, these will have to do.
I’ll see you in line!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Evel is dead. No not me, I’m “Evil” with an “I” the third letter in. Come to think of it if it were I this little blog entry wouldn’t be happening (would it?). There is plenty of Evil to go around these days but there was and will only ever be one Evel Knievel. Here are the details of his passing…
As a child of the seventies I grew up with Mohammad Ali in the boxing ring, the Harlem Globetrotters playing basketball and Evel Knievel jumping Lord knows what on that Harley Davidson of his. I have never been a big sports guy but my family and I would eagerly gather around our small TV to watch ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” whenever any of those three events were involved. It was as sure as the tide. To me these three examples – these specimens, were the epitome of sport. You could keep the World Series and the Superbowl – it meant nothing if Ali, the Globetrotters or Evel Knievel were holding court on that small TV with the broken volume tuner and separate UHF dial.
One of my absolute favorite toys growing up had to be the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle from Ideal Toys. Do you remember the one? There was a gyroscopic motor in the little motorcycle that you cranked up with a plastic ramp/gear. The motor would begin to whine the harder you cranked until BAM! The motorcycle took off barreling down the hallway in all its scaled down horsepower glory; the little bendy Evel Knievel figure holding on for dear life all the way to my home made ramp or whatever other disastrous stunt I had planned.
Yesterday evening he let go.
My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
My Dad used to feel that coffee was only good to be used as a means of waking up. I was too young at the time to argue with him – I didn’t know any better. I do now. The passage of time has brought with it a caffeine addiction and a deep appreciation for the coffee bean and all the wonders it can bring.
Thanks to Wikipeidia (my favorite second brain) here are the humble roots of my favorite beverage. In the 9th Century coffee spread from the highlands of Ethiopia to Egypt and Yemen. By the 15th Century it reached Persia, Egypt, Turkey and Northern Africa.
In 1511 it was deemed a forbidden stimulant from Mecca but the die had been cast; it was popular – people liked their caffeine highs. The order to have it banned was overturned in 1524 by the order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I. Cairo had a similar ban in 1532. It was soon overturned since the people stormed the coffee and warehouses containing coffee beans, sacking them in search of their acquired taste for caffeine.
In the 17th Century coffee spread to Europe. From there it reached the shores of America. Colonists didn’t initially take to it finding it a poor substitute for alcohol. By the time of the Revolutionary War people were plugged in and needing their Joe. By the time of the Civil War advances in brewing technology made coffee an everyday commodity here in the United States of America.
Today we share the cup and bask in the glow of the caffeine as it courses through our veins – warming us, keeping us alert and ready to face whatever the future may hold. Liquid inspiration. My muse starts whispering in my ear just about after the second cup. But just who has the best coffee out there? Whose brew is worth your time? Gentle Reader here are some of Evil Chicken’s favorites; granted I am only limited to the places that I haunt but rest assured I will gladly sample any suggestions that you provide. So without further ado…
Café DuMonde (New Orleans, LA). They’ve been in business at the French Market for over a century. They are open 24/7, only closing on Christmas and “for the occasional hurricane”. You will want to order a Café Au Lait (half coffee with chicory and half hot steamed milk) and a plate of Beignets. I would gleefully stop eating low carb for another visit. If you’re there – GO; you will not be disappointed.
Wawa (Delaware Valley). That’s right; I said it – Wawa. Excellent grab a cup and go coffee. I get to mix the exact chemical balance between two or three Splendas and a shot of Half & Half. Kona is my blend and 16-ounce is the perfect size. Some swear by Dunkin’ Donuts coffee – not me; I like to be the only one who touches it after it brews – most of the time I remember where my hands have been; most of the time.
Starbucks (Everywhere). Yes it’s a corporate empire but it is consistently the best game in town, or rather towns coast to coast – oh, I’m sorry; Starbucks is global. They can be pricey and one must learn the lingo on how to order a cup of coffee but it is worth the extra shekels and the time to comprehend the menu. As Number One said in Austin Powers, “…They produce a quality product.” Who am I to argue with one of Doctor Evil’s minions?
Bogart’s Coffee & Books (Millville, NJ). Not only is this one of my favorite coffee shops but it’s also my absolute favorite bookstore in the known universe. Great blends, books and, on Third Fridays, local musicians, artists and storytellers make their rounds. The place is full of characters and character. So is the coffee.
Fuel House Coffee Co. (Vineland, NJ). Try the Black Satin. Smooth, rich and caffeinated; just the way I like it. The business is also a Bain’s Deli. There’s seating and a stage in the back for musicians, comics and poetry slams. It can get real busy at lunchtime so plan accordingly. They’ve been known to close a little early too – even so, great coffee.
Crescent Moon Café (Mullica Hill, NJ). They roast their own beans. Nice. They know what they’re doing too. If you time it right or if you are lucky enough you can watch them roast the beans in their roaster/tumbler. The smell is amazing and there’s more skill and science to it than one would think. The Sumatran blend is awesome. The place is a little fru fru but worth the visit.
Brenner’s Brew (Bridgeton, NJ). Try a large French Roast. This is another fine place for checking out local musicians and artists. This place feels like Jack Kerouac has just breezed through for a cup and some conversation before hitting the road once again. Neat place.
So there you have it, my favorites. So, what did I miss? Where would you recommend? I’ll pack the Splenda and Half and Half – you tell me the spots!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
This is pure genius. Bottom line. If you are a Doctor Who geek, like yours truly, then you will really appreciate this. It was for a children’s charity in the UK and it stars two of my favorite Doctors. Enjoy.
Monday, November 19, 2007
…Before the fire…
Not to sound too alarmist in nature but I believe that is where we now find ourselves at this juncture in history. What’s old is new again. I am not a conspiracy buff by nature but I do think that this (http://www.google-watch.org/) is worth a look. There you will find several interesting articles including this one (http://www.google-watch.org/bigbro.html) that contains the following interesting list of things Google routinely does…
1. Google's immortal cookie:Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.
2. Google records everything they can:For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as "IP delivery based on geolocation."
3. Google retains all data indefinitely:Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.
4. Google won't say why they need this data:Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.
5. Google hires spooks:Matt Cutts, a key Google engineer, used to work for the National Security Agency. Google wants to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.
7. Google's cache copy is illegal:Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a "noarchive" meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don't. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google's cache. The cache copy should be "opt-in" for webmasters, not "opt-out."
8. Google is not your friend:By now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. Webmasters cannot avoid seeking Google's approval these days, assuming they want to increase traffic to their site. If they try to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google's semi-secret algorithms, they may find themselves penalized by Google, and their traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time Google doesn't even answer email from webmasters.
9. Google is a privacy time bomb:With 200 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved.
Now this article was written about three or four years ago and Google has now become the official 900 lbs. Gorilla of the search engine world. I myself blog here and explore the world via a wonderful program called Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/); two examples on how I have embraced Big Brother with open arms. Concerns over privacy and security have always been at the forefront of the criticisms of Google. In this age, however, where we gleefully surrender little things such as personal freedoms and liberties for the greater good comes the announcement of a brand new Google start up company called, 23andMe (http://www.23andme.com/).
23andMe has just opened for business. The Reuters article by Lisa Baertlein can be found here > (http://www.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUSN1949168320071119). In the nutshell for the price of $999.00 you can now have your own personal genome deciphered and placed into a database for you to look up things such as your odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, or athletes foot. You can do research into where your own particular genetic code can be traced to. Mine, no doubt, would be full of stocky, balding, Irish men looking for a decent potato and a pint or two or three of Guinness – but that’s not important now… What is important is that Google is a hairsbreadth away from being the purveyor of a viable genetic database that would be so tempting for a monstrous corporation (or monstrous government for that matter) not to pull information from.
…Oh so tempting…
"We believe this information provides intriguing insights into an individual's genetics, with the goal of expanding the collective knowledge base by enabling active participation in research," said Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe co-founder, who is married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Think of it – genetic identification for everything. The testing equipment may even have the Google logo on it. Hey you advertise where you can. You want to start your car, open your front door, vote, and buy groceries or a new computer just lick here for your identity confirmation. Advertising campaigns could be tailored to the individual identified consumer. The target market (you and I) wouldn’t stand a chance. Speaking of things that wouldn’t stand a chance how about that little document known as the Constitution of the United States? Where would ones rights begin and end in a world dictated by ones own potential genetic yield verses what one actually accomplishes by working and striving for something that is only bought and paid for with the power of ones own dreams?
Talk about fascism!
Oh the control – the power… it’s too much for a controlling entity not to want to direct... to oversee. Think of the jobs that would be created for monitoring citizens. Yes… good times, good times. Evil Chicken – you are nuts. This would never happen – it’s too much like science fiction. I humbly submit, Gentle Reader, that there is no such thing as ‘science fiction’ any more – it’s only what is and what could be.
“Could Be” got a real shot in the arm today.
...I’d type more but agents are converging on my location. – Not that I’m paranoid or anything…
Monday, November 05, 2007
Are they serious? Yes. Check out this letter dated 10/31/07, from the WGA website entitled, “Pencils Down Means Pencils Down”: http://wga.org/subpage_member.aspx?id=2529. Scroll down and see who is on the list. (BTW, I love that whole, “You have our word” ending.)
Writers have always been the red headed stepchildren of the film industry. They are not in front of the camera, they don’t direct or produce and they don’t usually throw tantrums if there are green M&Ms in the craft services bowl. They don’t have trailers on the set. They do not work with models or computer graphics designing special effects that are seen on small and big screens across the world. They don’t operate the cameras, edit film (35mm or digital), work with sound, cast for parts or scout locations either. They have nothing to do with scoring a picture or television series. Yet without the writer NONE of it is possible. Without the spark of creation inside the mind of a writer it all goes south – every last one of the aforementioned jobs simply does not happen. You see, Gentle Reader, it is the writer who first realizes that the story is there; from acres of blank 8.5 X 11 inch paper he (or she – BTW from this point on “he” is synonymous for both he and she) sees it first. In the theater that is his mind he constructs it, nurtures it, chips away at it and watches it develop honing the edge making it real. He hears the sounds around him, feels the textures and sees the colors of this world vividly displayed before him. Soon after he meets the inhabitants who live in there and they begin to talk to him. If he is observant enough and can jot down their words and listen to what they have to say then he can put it onto paper to report his findings to the rest of us here in our world. Now if he can assume the role of imagination’s correspondent and do it with voyeuristic abandon then he just may be a writer; a wordsmith whose job is to serve the story no matter what venue it takes.
Currently the venues in question are Film and TV; both are examples of collaborative story telling. You see once a screenwriter sells his script it is out of his hands and faces the hard, cruel world. I’ve been told this is akin to raising a child who becomes an adult – you raise them so far and then, one day they are on their own. I’ve been told this by people who have actually sold screenplays. What happens to the scripts after they are released into the wild is usually out of the writer’s hands. This has been changing with some directors wanting to have the writer(s) on set for ideas and/or changes but as a general rule of thumb once it is sold it’s gone. There have been amazing screenplays that have been made into horrid atrocities of filmmaking. This is the hazard of collaborative story telling. It’s just the way of things; the scriptwriter’s circle of life.
But I digress.
Late night TV will feel it first, followed by talk shows. Forget topical TV until after the strike is over. What happens with this strike will send ripples through the rest of the industry. The SAG (Screen Actors Guild) is watching closely to see what happens with the WGA for their own negotiations with the producers. They will want at the very least what the writers will get.
Everything is further complicated with how a product is delivered. Emerging technologies have and will always see to that. No one believed that people would be interested in watching color films until “A Visit to the Seaside” (which was made in “Kinemacolor”) premiered in 1908. No one believed that anyone would want to see a film where the actors talked until “The Jazz Singer” was released in 1927. No one believed that a giant ape could climb the Empire State Building with Fay Wray in hand until Willis O’Brien pioneered stop motion animation and made it happen in 1933’s “King Kong”. I could go on but we all get the gist, no? Fast forward to now. No one believed a few years ago that we would be able to plug these little things called “iPods” into a computer via the internet to download TV shows and films. Welcome to now. Titanic corporations are fighting it all out right now for who has the intellectual property rights (Viacom Vs. Youtube). This fight will play into speculative technology – or rather, technologies that are still emerging. Remember how well the recording companies befouled the whole MP3 thing? Well, film companies don’t want to repeat the same mistakes and that puts the film and TV industry is in the crossfire.
I support the writers. I’ve never sold a screenplay but I have two registered with the WGA and a third on the way. It will be interesting to see how this all develops. I’m not the only one who will be watching for the outcome. It might be a good time to rent some DVDs. I recommend the first season of “Heroes” and all seasons of “Battlestar Gallactica” and “4400”; believe me it will be better than all the reruns we are about to be hit with.
“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." - Gene Fowler
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Click on one of the cut photos that boarder the screen for the clues. It looks like the Joker is sending his minions on the hunt all across America today. It starts at dawn.
Brilliant. I wish I could take part but I can’t. Perhaps you can, Gentle Reader. It should be fun.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I have a friend who lives in Los Angeles. We met at the Screenwriting Expo about four years ago. We were singing bad renditions of “Bob and Tom” songs poolside in a bar where one would expect Humphrey Bogart to step around the corner at any moment. He’s a talented guy; a writer, an actor and he’s voiced several different video games too. He’s a good man who helps others communicate for a living. Not a bad existence, BTW.
I haven’t been able to reach him on the phone. If he ever saw that last sentence it would probably make him laugh. Gentle Reader; let me confess to you right here and now… I do NOT like the telephone. I’m horrible with it. Friends will call me but I very rarely initiate verbal contact on a telephone. I’ve even got rid of my landline. Hey, why should we have it? I’ve got a cell phone for the house – it’s clearer and there’s certainly better range. Any way, getting back to my wacky phone issue, I don’t use them apart from at work and when I don’t forget it in the morning while it’s recharging on my microwave.
Well, I made a call tonight. Maria Shriver (Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger), the First Lady of California has told the public to stay off of their cell phones to let the fire fighters and first responders have the bandwidth (or whatever they call space in the world of cellular phones) and I didn’t get through. The pictures and video are pretty scary. As of the time that I’m writing this 300,000 people have been evacuated and 1,000 homes have been destroyed.
I have a cousin who lives in San Diego too.
God bless ya Matt. If you can read this know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers; you too Anne.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Burlington Stadium 20 Burlington NJ 08016
Clifton Commons 16 Clifton NJ 07014
Hamilton 24 Hamilton NJ 08619
Hamilton Commons 14 Mays Landing NJ 08330
Commerce Center Stadium 18 North Brunswick NJ 08902
Pohatcong 12 Phillipsburg NJ 08865
UA Washington Township 14 Sewell NJ 08080
Hadley Theatre Stadium 16 South Plainfield NJ 07080
Cross Keys Cinema Stadium 12 Turnersville NJ 08012
Cumberland Mall Stadium 14 Vineland NJ 08360
Am I going to be there? BEEP! (if memory serves that’s affirmative.)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Nuff said? Good.
Here we go. 4400 is better than Heroes. That’s right – I said it; 4400 is better than Heroes. This is not to say that I don’t watch Heroes religiously every Monday night – oh contraire, I love both of the shows but as a card carrying GEEK I’ve got to give the favor to 4400.
Why? The writing. Bottom line. There is a visceral care for humanity with the 4400 (and story) while I’ve been able to guess the last four major plotlines for Heroes (which have been all right) – look, I’m an idiot; but a discriminating one. 4400 is more “real” and Nissan does not sponsor it. Look, I’m a geek from WAY back. I know that Jeff Lobe (DC Comic book god) is the executive producer of “Heroes” and that he’s done a fine job, thank you very much, but “Heroes” is wrote. If you have picked up a book or a graphic novel over the last 5 to 10 years the stuff writes itself.
No… really. It does.
4400 is different. It puts people in extraordinary circumstances within the sights of what would really happen to them. They don’t hide and if they do they are renegades ostracized by both the normal community and their “own kind”. 4400 is an injection of, dare I say, reality into the world of fancy that is portrayed on national television.
That, Gentle Reader, is good TV and, BTW, I HATE TV as a general rule of thumb.
But I digress. “Heroes” represents a world where gods walk amongst us unseen. “4400” is a similar scenario (and was first BTW) but most of them do not care if they are seen or not and besides internal intrigue there is the ever-present threat of just what the government is going to do. That is just how it would be if people could walk through walls, read minds or fly. What would the threat be? That is 4400. Heroes? Not so much.
Both are worth your time but 4400 is worth the rental.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Anton Yelchin (the kid from Hearts in Atlantis) as Pavel Chekov
Chris Pine (Princess Diaries 2) as James Tiberius Kirk [although the ink has not dried yet on this deal.]
Zoe Saldana (Drumline, Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl) as Nyota Uhura.
John Cho (Harold and Kumar go to White Castle) as Hikaru Sulu.
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek TOS) as an elder Spock.
... And now…
SIMON PEGG (Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) as Montgomery Scott!
Lest there be no doubt… I will be camping out for this one.
It will be wrapped up for a Christmas release in 2008.
Life is good.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The year that I went it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center (very cool building by the way) next to the Staples Center just down the street from the Hotel Figueroa. I see it show up in movies, TV shows and commercials all the time. If you travel down the street just a little more to the left you’ll be in the same tunnel that Ridley Scott used for Blade Runner back in ’82.
But I digress…
If, by chance, you go I recommend sticking to the “Guests of Honor” section where you will hear from people who make their livings by writing. Conversely, it would behoove you, Gentle Writer, to only attend the classes that you have an interest in or really can’t find out in a book or on the internet. The classes that I took were all well and good but if you are a writer then you are going to write no matter what some self-proclaimed “expert” with no track record has to say on the subject and seriously, how many times can someone reiterate the importance of the “heroes journey”? I’m still having “Joseph Campbell” flashbacks.
Skip most of those classes for the others. The “Guests of Honor” are worth listening to. These are people who are willing to tell you their tales of navigating the industry and are generally there to answer your questions. This year includes William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Hearts in Atlantis – the Princes Bride), Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List – Gangs of New York – Clear and Present Danger), Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Peter Pan) and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Mask of Zorro, Aladdin & Shrek). These people know what they are doing and are open to questions and conversation. I found this refreshing after sitting through a couple of classes. A few years ago my writing partner and myself spoke with Andrew Kevin Walker (Sev7en – Sleepy Hollow – The Wolfman [in pre-production]); he was accessible and amiable and patiently stayed after his presentation to answer all our questions.
Do go to the “Networking Parties” it’s an interesting experience meeting such a large group of people with the same twisted passion for writing. Be warned; however… this is L.A. and the land of make believe. Fiction is a staple in Southern California. Don’t unveil your master plan for the next summer blockbuster while at one of these parties. Don’t get too tainted by the laid back lifestyle. Don’t forget to stay focused, be friendly and don’t drink too much before you pitch your screenplay(s)… Just don’t.
Speaking of pitching… there’s “The Golden Pitch Tournament”. If you can get ticket(s) you will be purchasing 5 minutes of a studios time to hear an outline of your story. If they like what they hear they can option to buy your script. Of course they can also take your idea and steal it – this is L.A.; remember? Good. Never forget this.
But I digress.
The Pitchfest is always interesting to observe, writers will pimp themselves out just to make an impression. I know that the studios and production companies must really get a kick out of most of the writers that shake their hand and try to sell them their wares. It’s an exploitative town. Jay Leno has started interviewing some of the more eccentric screenwriters as they wait in line. It’s a funny bit that illustrates the fact that while all people can write not all people should. Still it makes me cringe a little; possibly it’s a little too close to home. One never knows, however, I have heard of some things being optioned but realize before going in the odds are pretty bad; still as one of my best friends always says, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take”.
Their website states the following when it comes to the Pitches of 2007, “One room with up to 60 of Hollywood’s A-list producers, development executives, agents, and managers looking for new material. No other event will offer writers better access to the people and companies capable of setting your writing career in motion. We’ve provided the venue, all you need to do is bring your best ideas and polished pitches — this is your chance to gain representation, sell your idea and make career-changing contacts.”
The Pitchfest gave me a new and deep appreciation for Independent Filmmakers. But, as I’ve said, one never knows.
If you are in the area and you have an interest you should go. Keep your ears and eyes open, learn and have one of those $3.00 cups of coffee that they sell there on the veranda. The sun is always shining in Southern California and looks spectacular through the glass panels of the Convention Center or the Marriott and Renaissance Hotels at the Los Angeles Airport; I would imagine.
Good luck out there.
“Looks like another perfect day… I love L.A.”.
Monday, October 01, 2007
…No – Really…
Download the free version here: http://earth.google.com/.
Wikipedia (my favorite second brain) states this; “Google Earth is a virtual globe program that was originally called Earth Viewer and was created by Keyhole, Inc. It maps the earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS (geographic information system) 3D globe.”
Install the program and explore. Start with familiar territory and move onto the fun stuff. Type in your address and fly in – you’ll be impressed. Take a look around the neighborhood and put those nagging feelings that there is no such thing as privacy aside and look at the bright shinny thing!
Oh Gentle Reader, what a bright and shinny thing this program is. The past three days I’ve been to dozens of places around the globe. Where? Well, I’ve been to the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Alberta Canada, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada; Peggy’s Cove, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada; Urqhart Castle, torre, Loch Ness, United Kingdom; Cherry Plain State Park, NY; Muckle Flugga, UK’s most northerly headland and, of course, Area 51, Uninc Nye County, Nevada.
…But hey, that’s just me. The program actually has some wonderful suggestions on where to take tours under the “Sightseeing” folder. They’ve got Disneyworld, the White House, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Imperial Palace in China and a bunch of others.
Mother Hen says that I’ve become downright voyeuristic ...like she didn’t know that already.
The world is now your playground, Gentle Reader; happy exploring!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
“Who?” you may ask.
What a great band!
They were shanghaied by grunge in the nineties but the classic beauty of their sound is still in existence. Please see: http://www.officialsmithereens.com/ for more info.
I have always seen this band as stuck in time. They are relevant (to yours truly) and beatnik at the same time. Electric Kerouac, baby – no doubt. The true joy of the Smithereens is having the eyes to see that. Wonderful guitar riffs, the timelessness, the wonderful lyrics – and they’re from Jersey!
Please… Check out “Top of the Pops” or “Blue Period.” Amazing music – at least for this out of time Beatnik.
Oh well, out of time and out of place… Check their site for tour dates. From what I’ve seen they are worth investigating.
… Walk on…
Monday, September 24, 2007
Good question – I didn’t know about it until lunchtime today. Basically on Saturday, October 13, from 11 – 6 PM over 30 local (to the Cumberland County area of New Jersey) artists are going to be opening their studios to the general public (you and me). I met one of the artists today, a lady named Meed Barnett who gave me the info and I though that I’d post it for anyone who may be interested. It would be a nice way to spend a Saturday and it would have that whole “Third Friday” vibe. Third Friday is a celebration in – of all places, downtown Millville, of artists and musicians. The local businesses stay open and it’s a worthwhile time to visit. There's a lot happening down there.
One of those businesses is Bogart’s Books. I couldn’t recommend Bogart’s Books & Coffee Shop (formally Wind Chimes Bookstore) higher. Great coffee, characters and all the used books you could ever want. For the record: Evil Chicken’s favorite bookstore in the known universe.
But I digress…
For more information on the Open Artistic Studio Tour check out this… http://openstudiotours.org/. Navigation is a little wonky but you’ll get the information if you’re persistent.
It should be fun. I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one with the Bogart’s coffee in my hand.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Not too shabby.
Bella Candy, a friend of yours truly, introduced me to NaNoWriMo about 4 years ago – I haven’t looked at the month of November the same way since. You won’t either. I got the following e-mail yesterday from Chris Baty (the guru of all things of NaNo and all around nice guy):
Dear NaNoWriMo author,
You know what time it is? Time for a novel-length email about things afoot at NaNoWriMo!
SIGN-UPS START OCTOBER 1; SITE LOCKED DOWN MONDAY 9/24
We'll be opening sign-ups for another noveling season late at night on October 1. Between now and then, all of the content on the current site will be archived, and the forums will be wiped clean for the 2007 event. All active NaNo accounts from last November will stay active, and Script Frenzy log-ins will work as well.
We'll be turning off sign-ins this Monday so we can have a week of thing-resetting and something-migration that Russ swears is very important we do without anyone hanging around the site watching us. We will miss you that week, but we'll be reunited in October, and we can share stories of our time apart then.
YEAR OF BIG, FUN, SCARY ADVENTURES COMING TO A CLOSE
At the end of the last NaNo, I invited everyone to join me in publicl y posting a couple big, fun, scary goals for the new year. Then we went after those goals like otters on lutefisk, and kept a progress log of it all in the NaNo forums.You can see what kinds of amazingly scary goals people set for themselves (and pulled off!) here:www.nanowrimo.org/modules/newbb/viewforum.php?forum=359
Officially the YoBFSA comes to a close when NaNoWriMo 2007 begins. If you are a YoBFSA participant who has achieved one of your goals by then, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: BFS Winner. We'll email you a certificate in October to commemorate your achievement. My big, fun, scary adventure? I set out to learn basic Spanish and work on my radio production skills. Did I earn the certificate? You better believe it---I'm even a proud graduate of Piedmont Adult School's Spanish 1A class. My radio pr oduction skills: still ailing. But it's a start!
OCTOBER: IT'S CALLED BETA FOR MANY REASONS
We're going to be implementing a bunch of new things this year to help get the site ready for a freakishly superpowered future. These include an entirely new back-end system, a new server, and new Author Profile pages (more on this below). Some or all of these things will break spectacularly and immediately upon launch. We will hurry to fix them. They will break in different ways. We will fix them again. This will last most of October.
NEW AUTHOR PROFILE PAGES!
So you know those beautiful gray book-like author profile pages with the turning pages we've had on the site for the past three years? We're saying goodbye to them this week.
I know, I know. The design was so beautiful and sleek it made us weep. But as nice as it looked, it caused us a lot of problems, financial and otherwise. The system was built by a genius designer/pr ogrammer who created it in such a complicated way that most professional Flash programmers wouldn't touch it. Which meant every time something broke or needed an update, we had to hire a Flash Yoda who charged us Jedi-level hourly rates. Last year, adding a "Winner 2006" image to the winners' photos, changing a few text labels, and adding a European character set cost us $2000.
That made us weep too, but for different reasons. The other problem was that the tidy, magical books are very hard to slip new features into without a major overhaul. Which is bad because we receive dozens of great Author Profile page feature suggestions from participants every year, and we also have tons of our own ideas for new things we want to integrate into the pages.
We'd like comment-able novel excerpts, customizable participant blogs with room for audio and video, in-dash Twittering, an "encouragement capsule" where friends and family can uploa d morale-boosting messages to be released to writers when they hit certain word-count goals, and a billion more things.
As a first step towards a future where we can easily add new modules to the AP pages, we'll be launching a much more expandable system on October 1. It's clean and pretty, and over the course of the next year---knock on fundraising wood---we'll be able to add the exciting new features and powers you've been requesting. Once in place, those cool new functions will make the current Author Profile pages look gray and lifeless by comparison.
MORE CELEBRITY PEP TALKERS REVEALEDIn case you missed the announcement in the last newsletter, we're going to have some extraordinary help writing the pep talks we email out to participants in November. In the last email, I revealed that NaNo 2007 authors would be receiving a pep talk from none other than novelist Sue Grafton.
Now I'm here to unveil the identities of thr ee more of this year's NaNoWriMo pep talkers. They are...drum roll please...the ferocious Garth Nix! The fantastic Naomi Novik! And the awesome Neil Gaiman!
Yep. These writers have all answered the no-pressure-at-all call to inspire 100,000 authors in various states of noveling exaltation and despair with their kind words. We actually have eight pep talkers signed on for this year, but Tavia has asked me to wait until the site relaunches to share the identities of the other four. Which I've agreed to do. But one of them is Tom Robbins.
This is why I shouldn't be in charge of these things.
YOUNG WRITERS ON THE GROW; ROOM TO READ PARTNERSHIP RETIRING
Did you know we run two events in November? There's NaNoWriMo, which you're already familiar with. And then there's the completely separate Young Writers Program, over at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org. Where kids 12-and-under and K-12 classrooms taking part as a group enjoy their own private creative mayhem. Authors in the YWP get to pick their own word counts, and they receive extensive curriculum, activities, games, YWP participant and winner certificates, private forums, and a VIP lounge for teachers. We also mail a free poster, progress chart, button pack, and sticker bundle to the classrooms to help incite noveling in the students. The whole thing has gone a little bonkers in the last couple years, growth-wise. Last year, we had 15,000 kids and teens take part. That number will likely double this year.
That’s the very good news. The bad news is that we don't have enough money to host NaNoWriMo and the Young Writers Program and continue our Libraries in Southeast Asia project.
Donating 50% of our net proceeds from donations and merchandise sales so Room to Read can build libraries on our behalf has given thousands of kids in Cambodia, Laos, and Vie tnam the chance to fall in love with reading. But now we want to take the next step, and help kids around the world fall in love with writing. And to do that, we need to start putting 100% of our resources into our own programs.
Happily, Room to Read is doing great. They were a tiny start-up when we first met them, but they've since mushroomed into a global philanthropic powerhouse, raising over $1,000,000 per month in donations. Go Room to Read!
Since becoming a nonprofit ourselves last year, we've struggled to find the funds we need to keep the doors open and servers humming year-round for NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, Young Writers Programs. With every dollar as precious as it is, we want to focus the donations we receive on what we do best: Hosting life-changing writing adventures for kids and adults.
We hope you'll join us in that goal by making a donation to NaNoWriMo when the site opens in October. We also hope that those who loved our L ibraries in Southeast Asia project will continue to support Room to Read directly through their website, www.roomtoread.org.
EMAIL HAS GONE ON TOO LONG, AS ALWAYS
So true. So true.See you on the site in October!
So, there’s the long and the short of it. For your convenience, Gentle Writer, I have the link listed under Evil Chicken’s Favorite Places. I hope you consider it and all of its organized chaos – it’s a challenge but I know it can be done.
So get to it! November’s not that far away (believe it or not).
Monday, September 17, 2007
BTW –, and I don’t say this lightly or boastfully, my burgers ROCK.
Any way and back on topic… the thought occurred to me just what are the things that I can’t leave behind? What are the things that I cannot do without at this juncture in time? Make no mistake, time has a way of making what is so important now into piles of flotsam and jet some in the near to near future – future. Dare I say the dual processor laptop that you treasure will be obsolete next week? Pssh, but you know that already… It’s just the way of things.
Things. That’s almost all they are, right – souvenirs of moments past – reminders of another time in which you happened to share between the moment and yourself. Hey, I’m not pointing fingers; Lord knows I’ve got ‘em too. Believe me it doesn’t take too long to look around the room that I’m typing this in and realize the Evil Chicken’s has a weird collection of things around him while he writes. It’s true. I do. The oddities that surround me have only significance to me. If you were to ask me why I had a certain item here in the Chicken’ s Roost I’d probably tell you but you would quickly lose interest. Therefore, I will not bore you with the rest of the gory details. Many of the oddities around me are completely selfish in nature, like the rock from Centralia PA or the one I found on the Appalachian Trial here in North Jersey (did you know that there is about 75 miles of the AT here in New Jersey, Gentle Reader? Well, I’ve climbed that mountain and the only souvenir that I took was a rock. Amazing experience – you should try it, BTW.)
So, like I said, as I was flipping burgers this very evening, the thought occurred to me that they were all just things; material goods that only I know the significance or value of. That’s it, nothing more. When I’m gone my children will all say Dad was crazy for the things that he collected - and they will be right. Let’s cut to the point here; as I look around this room and consider the things that I would want to save in case Rancho Del Evil Chicken is hit by a meteor I come up with this quick list…
1. The compass from the Half Shell, my father’s boat. Why? – It was dad’s boat - all I have now is the compass.
2. My NCC-1701 Enterprise ornament from Hallmark. Why? – Well it was the only present I received the year that Mother Hen and I first got an apartment together. I got her a coffee grinder.
3. My “Raiders of the Lost Ark” one sheet. Why? – It’s one of my favorite movies of all time and Mother Hen gave it to me.
4. The Size Chart hanging on my door. Why? – I can see how much my children have grown over the years. I would hate to lose this.
5. My framed and autographed Weird NJ issue 25. Why? – I’m in it and it was the second time that I met the Marks (Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman that is).
6. My framed and autographed Peter Laird issue of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Volume II, Number 1. Why? – As I told the man himself back in 2003, the guy's an amazing success story and illustrates to me what can be accomplished with a little imagination and hard work.
7. My burlap Griffin. Huh? – I won it by putting a cross bolt arrow through the heart of another griffin all the while being told by people who knew me that I couldn’t do it. It’s a keeper.
8. The external hard drive downstairs. This one has ALL the pictures.
9. My postcard collection. Why? – Well I’ve been to some nice spots (by my reckoning) and have amassed an interesting collection of postcards along the way. I’d hate to see ‘em go.
10. My laptop would be nice but I’ve got everything backed up off property anyway. If the meteor hits Evil Chicken’s nest I’ll be up in no time; novels, screenplays, short stories, blogs and writings will be intact. At the end of the day, Gentle Reader, things are all they are – most of which only having significance to yours truly. I’d be quite happy knowing that the Three Chicks, Mother Hen and yours truly were safe. I just thought it would be fun to share the short list.
So, what are the things that you would take with you?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
“Oh, I don’t know.” She answered, “Pretty weird, huh?” She shuffled out the door on her way to make a batch of copies for some unknown file somewhere.
There were no TVs inside the cube farm. Radio reception was spotty at best so I left the conference room and sought out a friend of mine who I knew was a news junkie and man of all media (let’s call him Pax Romano). Pax was attempting to get a decent signal from his radio by adjusting the antenna and dial. He must have sensed my presence. He glanced over his shoulder and asked, “Do you believe this?”
“What do you got?” I asked as the two of us huddled around his radio. He began explaining what had happened, that it wasn’t a small plane – that it didn’t sound like an accident. I remember that another co-worker and friend (let’s call her Zelda Parker) joined us at his cube she was one of the people training me in my new position. The three of us heard the announcement that a second plane had hit the other tower. The creeping fear that this was an attack instead of an accident was confirmed in our minds. We just stared at each other with looks of disbelief on our faces as we listened on.
I had to retrieve my work from the conference room and rendezvoused over at Zelda Parker’s cubical. She too had a small radio and had managed to find a decent signal. I called my wife, Mother Hen waking her up in the process. I told her to turn on the television and brought her up to speed on the unfolding events. I needed to talk to her just to touch base with some constant in my life. I told her that I loved her and went back to listening to the radio with Zelda. We listened to anything we could – desperately gathering information as it came over the radio. Mother Hen called and told me that the Pentagon had been hit. I passed this along to Zelda. Once more I told my wife that I loved her and returned to listening to the radio with Zelda. We heard that United 93 went down somewhere in PA and we were there listening when the first tower fell. “This is not good.” Zelda said.
I looked at her, agreeing without saying anything. “Zelda, I’ve got to find a television. I’m going to Wal-Mart.” I said. The Wal-Mart was across the street. And that’s what I did. When I exited the cube farm I looked skyward and was struck by the fact that there was nothing to be seen. No air traffic whatsoever. It was all shut down – from coast to coast.
The world would never again be the same.
Wal-Mart failed me. They did not have any live feed in the store. The first video that I saw was later in the afternoon while Zelda and I were at a field visit down in Wildwood Crest. We stared in slack jawed and terrible wonder.
Certain moments in time always have resonance; the Kennedy assassination the space shuttle blowing up and 9/11. They are part of our shared collective unconscious. 9/11 should never be forgotten. 3,000 lives ended that day in the only attack on American soil in my lifetime. Blind agendas, no matter what they claim to be, are dangerous. Osama Bin Laden has friends – that’s why he hasn’t been captured or killed. There are people out there actively planning what the where’s, why’s and how’s of the next attack will be. Life in the twenty-first century now means being ready (or at least as ready as possible). Always being vigilant and walking around with one’s eyes open has become one of our most important defenses. It pays to be observant these days.
So on this anniversary I humbly whisper a prayer for the future and remember three thousand people who were just going about their everyday business on 9/11, six years prior only to be murdered by the madness of a blind agenda of hatred spawned half a world away. …Everyday people like you and I Gentle Reader – just like you and I. Who knew that we were so hated, so feared? I didn’t. I do now but prior to 9/11, I was blissfully unaware of the many thousands of people who were plotting to kill me – me; a humble infidel – no not a person or human being with thoughts or feelings or aspirations mind you – an infidel. Infidels are easier to kill than human beings are. It’s less messy that way – after being indoctrinated and everything.
Que Sara Sara. We live in interesting times, Gentle Reader; interesting times indeed. Enough about psyche; this blog is about memorializing a moment in time.
…So where were you when the towers fell?