Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pardon my dust.

I’m changing things up a bit. The content is the same as always – much ado about nothing but I’m playing with the look of ye olde blog of yore.

I’ll settle on something in the near future… Honest.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spock's Crib

Back when broadcast rights for Star Trek went to G4 the network produced these. Great stuff.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coffee – A History

So, do you like coffee? Is it something more than just the morning cup for you? Does the aroma intoxicate and captivate your senses? Do you appreciate the richness of the flavor and the subtleties of the beans or is all that stuff too fru fru for you and coffee is just coffee?

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!


Happy Thanksgiving Gentle Reader!

Don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants to dinner.

God bless,

Evil Chicken

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Doctor Who, Children in Need Special - Time Crash

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

It’s no secret Gentle Reader, I love technology and all the information and entertainment that is so nicely packaged these days to keep me grinning and numb. It’s all so shiny; so pretty. It’s like having the Library of Alexandria at ones fingertips – before the fire, of course.

…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 ( is worth a look. There you will find several interesting articles including this one ( 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.

6. Google's toolbar is spyware:With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.

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 (; 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 (

23andMe has just opened for business. The Reuters article by Lisa Baertlein can be found here > ( 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

The Writer’s Strike of ‘07

It’s on now. The 4,000 members of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) have voted to go on strike. Why’s that? Well, it’s got a lot to do with as the story by Gary Gentile, Associated Press Business Writer says, “…a bigger slice of DVD profits and revenue from the distribution of films and TV shows over the Internet.” You can read the article yourself here:;_ylt=Aq744qd6kZtymLr5XbCrFsYE1vAI.

Are they serious? Yes. Check out this letter dated 10/31/07, from the WGA website entitled, “Pencils Down Means Pencils Down”: 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