Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of attending the opening night performance of Mayhem at Montague Manor or 'The Mystery of Lady Utopia's
Grail' at the Calvary Chapel Playhouse in Vineland (located at 930 N. Main Rd. Vineland, NJ 08360). Check out: http://www.pwpstorytellers.com/melodrama2008.html for all the details.
Mayhem at Montague Manor is a play in three acts adeptly written and directed by Ms. Kathryn Ross and brought to life through an amazingly talented cast. These actors have trained long and hard for this production and it shows. There is a lot of love for what they are doing. The play is about three hours long with intermission and there is a "Just Desserts" dessert bar and coffee for all of your sugar and caffeine cravings - both free with paid admission.
…Try the red herring pudding.
The playbill brings you up to speed on the story thus far. "Long lost
Montague relations arrive to lay claim to the family fortune just hours
before the entire family estate is to be auctioned to the highest bidder!
They each come to take possession of the infamous Lady Utopia's Grail - the
greatest of all Montague treasures - though no one seems to know precisely
what this mysterious grail really is. It was hidden somewhere in Montague
Manor by the great Lady Utopia's herself in the hopes that a worthy heir to
the estate might seek it out someday. The new heirs are given a clue to its
whereabouts - but only the one who can solve the confounding riddles and
outwit a mysterious villain at large will win the prize. Who will be the
first to solve THE MYSTERY OF LADY UTOPIA'S GRAIL!?"
There you have it; now you are ready to boo the villains and cheer for the
heroes; which is exactly what Chicken Little and I did tonight. We had a
blast. What can I say, if you are in the area go check the Pageant Wagon
Players troop out - they are most certainly worth the detour in your
schedule. There are now three shows left; August 1 and 2nd at 7:00 PM and a
Saturday matinee at 1:30 PM. Tickets are $10.00 for Adults, $7.00 for
Senior citizens, and $5.00 for Kids under 12.
Ms. Ross and company have pulled off something special with Mayhem at Montague Manor. Great cast, great story, great night out; go see them while you can. They won't be back until next summer with, "The Villain Vaudevillian" (working title).
Wonderful stuff – I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
“We’re all mad here… I’m mad, you’re mad.”
Ain’t It Cool News is reporting that Johnny Depp has signed on to play The Mad Hatter in Disney’s 3D, Tim Burton directed “Alice in Wonderland”. Check it: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/37702.
I’m grinning like a Cheshire Cat at this news. I love the pairing of Burton and Depp; the two make beautiful music together. I jumped over to the Internet Movie Data Base; which is manna from heaven for movie geeks (see: http://www.imdb.com/ and click around a while if you don’t believe me), and looked ‘em up. To date the pair have collaborated in some pretty wonderful cinema including; Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Sweeny Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
I knew that Depp had signed on to portray Barnabas Collins in the film version of “Dark Shadows” but I just saw that BURTON was attached to that too. Even though Tim Burton has been re-imagining and remaking things a bit much recently for my tastes but I still love the guy. There have been hits and there have been misses but the man has a unique vision time and time again. He makes me want to buy a movie ticket. Hearing that he and Depp are attached to Dark Shadows as well as Alice in Wonderland makes my geek heart gush.
It should be a hoot.
Monday, July 28, 2008
“Did you know that 5 people got struck by lightning today in New Jersey?” Mother Hen said to me last night as I was cooking dinner.
“…Really?” I said as I prepped the burgers for the grill. “That’s blog worthy.” I mean, lightning happens but to 5 people in one afternoon? That’s pretty scary.
But such lightning activity is not uncommon. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_safety. According to this article, “Nearly 2000 people per year in the world are injured by lightning strikes. In the USA between 9-10% of those struck die, amounting to an average of 75 fatalities annually. In the United States, it is the #2 weather killer (second only to floods), killing 100 annually and injuring ten times that number. The odds of an average person living in the USA being struck by lightning in a given year is 1:700,000. Roy Sullivan has the record for being the human who has been struck by lightning the most times. Working as a park ranger, Roy was struck seven times over the course of his 35 year career. He lost a nail on his big toe, and suffered multiple injuries to the rest of his body.”
Roy’s gotta be a little nervous when the clouds gather and the rain starts falling. I think after getting hit the first time I’d be looking for some other line of work. Definitely after getting hit a second time. Maybe something in a basement somewhere or perhaps something to do with a rubber insulated room. Come to think of it, certain parties have suggested over the years that a rubber room is just what I needed. But enough about me, this is about lightening.
Wikipedia, my favorite second brain explains the phenomenon here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightening - fascinating stuff. I didn’t know that there were so many types of lightning. There’s positive lightning, cloud-to-cloud, dry lightning, cloud-to-ground, bead lightning, ribbon lightning, staccato lightning, ground-to-cloud lightning, ball lightning, and then there’s upper-atmospheric lightning that includes things like sprites, blue jets and ELVES. Yes, Elves which stands for, Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations from Electromagnetic Pulse Sources. This is not to be confused with Gnome lightning which stands for Get the heck to shelter - No One is going to survive except ME because I’m in a shelter.
So what can you do to protect yourself? As per the above article, “The US National Lightning Safety Institute advises everyone to have a plan for their safety when a thunderstorm occurs and to commence it as soon as the first lightning or thunder is observed. This is important, since lightning can strike without rain actually falling. If thunder can be heard at all then there is a risk of lightning. The safest place is inside a building or a vehicle. Risk remains for up to 30 minutes after the last observed lightning or thunder. If a person is injured by lightning they do not carry an electrical charge and can be safely handled to apply First aid before emergency services arrive.” So there you have it. Get out of the water, get off the golf links, and if you can’t, get as low as possible to the ground as you can. Amongst the trees is not a good place to hide since lightning routinely discharges onto the tallest thing standing and tree shrapnel is not a good way to go.
Still, there is something hypnotic about a good storm; the raw energy surrounding you, the awesome power displayed before your eyes that reminds us that we are but a small part of a vast eco-system. I can see what the allure is to the “storm chasers”, those guys that drive towards big storms, tornados and hurricanes? They are not all crazy. There is something to that experience, something that connects them to a much larger world. That sort of thing could easily become addictive.
So when the clouds gather and the rain starts falling don’t fret, Gentle Reader, I’ve got plenty of space in my rubber room for all of us.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Before I get started let me just say that X-Files: I Want to Believe, is best appreciated if you are already a fan. You see, X-Files is like that old pair of running shoes you have in your closet. Sure they may be old and worn but they are comfortable and you are happy that you rediscovered them. Still you wouldn’t want to give your shoes to someone who has never worn them before; that’s just asking for trouble – and blisters too, I might add. If you are a fan you’ll enjoy what you see. If you have no idea who these people are or what they are trying to accomplish you might get a lost. It’s been about 6 years since X-Files graced TV screens and in that time a lot of people are simply not going to know who Fox and Dana are.
Fortunately for yours truly, I’m a fan; but not just me this time – Mother Hen is too! It was with a certain degree of hopefulness that we schlepped over to the multiplex last night to check out, “X-Files: I Want To Believe”. Back in the show’s heyday Mother Hen and I would make time to watch it together, in between my working shift work and her work schedule. It was a ritual. We would make tea and watch the X-Files. It was beautiful. The show switched from Friday to Sunday but we still held on and then David Duchovny, the man who so adeptly plays Fox Mulder, left the show. Now I must confess, I love Ms. Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully – a wonderful Irish name I might add) but the show suffered from Favoritus-Disappearus when that happened a lot of the chemistry went with it. After a nice run from 1993 – 2002 the show called it quits.
BUT… there was so much left to tell. No really. What about the government conspiracies? What about the aliens of all shapes and sizes? What was the deal with that oily substance that invaded the host? Just what was the final fate of Alex Krycek? Was that child really Scully and Mulder’s? What about the alien invasion of 2012? Would the fluke man ever return? Inquiring minds want to know! The original X-Files had so much to offer. It was Chris Carter (the creator, writer and sometime director) at the top of his game. X-Files: I Want to Believe feels like its joints need to be greased and some rust sanded off. I want to believe that there will be a part III because I have no doubt that Carter would bring his A game. Rumor has it part III would be one of the “Mythology Episodes” and would focus on the alien invasion scheduled to happen on December 22, 2012. Mulder and Scully staving off the end of the world? Now there’s something I’d go to the theaters for.
“So should I go see it, Evil Chicken?”
Yes. If you’re a fan it will be like slipping on those running shoes in your closet. If you are not a fan expect some blisters.
See you at the multiplex.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The man lived life like he was dying. Here is CNN’s write up: http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/07/25/obit.pausch/index.html. Here’s what my favorite second brain has to say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Pausch. Interesting man.
If you haven’t seen Professor Randy Pausch’s, “Last Lecture” on You Tube – do so. You can find it here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo. It’s about an hour and seventeen minutes long so grab a cup of coffee (or tea if you are so inclined) and watch it. Oh sure you can just do the snippets which are poignant enough but for the full picture of who the man was and the message that he spent the rest of his life getting across you’ve got to watch the whole thing.
This is not a dress rehearsal – live your life.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Yesterday evening marked the 6th day in a heat wave that we have been having in the Swamps of Jersey. I believe the high was 97 degrees Fahrenheit. I would give you the Celsius measurement but I am at once both too ignorant to know it off the top of my head and too lazy to look it up on a convenient web site.
Blame it on the heat.
Oh but its out there. Growing. Why is that? Why does the grass continue to grow in this heat? Shouldn’t it just want to lay as dormant as I want to? No – grass is a real ‘go getter’. You would think that it would just burn. Wouldn’t that be great?! Oh yeah. I’d love the yard to be dead; brown and dead – dust bowl dead. Yeah, that would be nice.
Man, it’s hot.
I had such high hopes for the ivy (see: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2008/06/while-mowing-lawn.html). The plan was simple enough; plant ivy and kill grass. The ivy would spread like a plague covering the tenacious lawn with a lush greenness that would never need to be mowed! That’s a brilliant plan. Oh yes, and the plan would have worked too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids!
No that’s not right the meddling kids had nothing to do with this one.
“When are you going to come and pick up the bucket of ivy?” my friend from work asked. “It’s starting to stink.”
“Stink?” I asked.
“Yes.” She said. “All you’ll have to do is wash it with bleach.”
“Yes. It’s right to the left after you open the gate.
“Right.” I said. “I’ll pick it up.”
And true to my word I did just that. The bucket was exactly where she said it would be and so was the smell. No, that does not do it justice, Gentle Reader. Please forgive me – allow me to rephrase the latter part of that sentence. Here we go…
SO WAS THE SMELL!
Yeah, that’s better. The five-gallon bucket reeked of dead horse intestine stewing in its own juices for about two weeks in the hot sun. I could detect horse feces somehow in the mix. Vultures would have been circling save for the fact that this was supposed to be plant life. No – this really smelled of decaying flesh. The scent of death was about it. It was some abomination of nature warping both animal and plant DNA together in some macabre poached brew plucked from some level of Hell where Satan puts his own black skid marked stained undies. Brutal.
“Bleach!” I said out loud to no one but myself. My friend and her husband were not home so I was officially talking to myself. The simple fact was that there was not enough bleach in my pantry to save what was left of the ‘ivy’. I began to hatch a plan. I couldn’t leave it here. She (my friend) had been kind enough to put the abomination in the bucket for me in the first place and she had made a request for me to pick it up from her residence – a job that I had agreed to do. There was no way that I could take it all the way to my place. I had to find a home for it… nearby. And that’s exactly what I did. I dumped out a little of the concoction so that it wouldn’t spill in the bed of my small SUV.
…Oh the stench…
I put the bucket in my trunk and drove to the woods where I introduced ‘ivy’ to the local environment. I didn’t litter – that would have been wrong. Instead I stimulated the ecosphere and reforested a bare patch in the forest.
I thanked my friend for her troubles, deodorized my truck and silently wished that the initial plan had come to fruition. Ah, “the best laid plans of mice and men”; this was a good one too. Now instead of ivy I’ve got a lawn full of tall, hot grass that needs mowing. Oh well, what’s a boy to do?
Maybe I’ll ask my friend for another bucket sans the horse intestine. Hey (or hay), it could work.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Stop reading this Blog if you do NOT want any spoilers – in fact stop reading this blog and head directly to a high quality digital theater with crystal clear surround sound; no – hold on a tick… go directly to your local IMAX theater for the full 70 foot tall Gotham City experience.
Simple answer – this film is worth it. It is the best film I’ve seen this year – not just the summer popcorn movie blitz that I usually ply you with Gentle Reader. This one is the real deal. I could gush more about the movie and bleed in four-color comic book for you but that’s all been done before; even, dare I say – believe it or not – right here at this blog.
No – let’s look at the film as just that; a film. Let’s just ignore the idea that it’s a “comic book” movie. Instead, consider approaching this film like it is a psychological crime drama with excellent characterization and an actual coherent plot. Imagine that. The film is an exploration of both the truth (and our perception or it) and individuals having limits verses individuals without them.
The Joker is devoid of anything that resembles a conscience. He is a sociopath; an agent of chaos; he has no limits and that is just the way he likes it. The Batman for all his issues at his core – his heart of hearts – he does not want to see anyone hurt the way that he was and in defending this personal code of ethics the words DO NOT MURDER are at the top of his list. The Joker has no such limit, no such internal regulation. There is a certain symbiotic nature to their relationship. The Joker sees it first. He knows that they are both damaged goods when he says, “To them (the public) you’re just a freak… Like me!” He knows the limits of the Batman and he wants to test those limits – repeatedly, and this testing includes a high body count.
Let’s discuss acting. What a cast. Christopher Nolan has assembled a wonderful cast to bring the Dark Knight to the screen. Christian Bale is the best Batman who has ever donned the body armor and cowl. Could there be a better Alfred than Michael Caine? Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox the head of Wayne’s Enterprises and the designer of Batman’s arsenal. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Rachel Dawes this time out; last time Katie Holmes and she didn’t reprise her role this time out. Who knows why? I really dig Gyllenhaal though – good choice. Gary Oldman is Lieutenant and then Commissioner Gordon. Man, I really loved the scenes with Oldman. His Gordon is fair, hardnosed and smart – just like in the comic books. Imagine that. Aaron Eckhart as the tragic Harvey Dent (Two-Face). And then there is Heath Ledger. By now you have heard the hype concerning Heath Ledger and his last roll? BELIEVE IT. It’s bitter sweet since it is the last time that Mr. Ledger will play the role due, of course to his tragic demise. Now I love Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson as much as the next fan boy but the Joker has now been embodied in the person of Mr. Heath Ledger. If he does not receive the posthumous Oscar nod for Best Actor the Academy Awards should be boycotted. Seriously. In an early scene in the film the Joker introduces himself to the crime bosses of Gotham City – in an instant he sets the tone for the entire film; he establishes just who the Joker is and what he is capable of doing. Unreal. Watching Ledger embody this character is unforgettable. His performance is that good. From now on it will always be his part – his role. No doubt.
“Do you wanna see a magic trick?” Go see The Dark Knight. Get a sitter if you have kids; this in not for them. It’s the definitive Batman on the big screen and it is not to be missed. Welcome the 900-pound gorilla, ladies and gentlemen. It’s worth the wait and all the Oscar nods it’s about to receive.
I’ll see you at the IMAX for that whole 70-foot Gotham City experience. It’s worth the ride.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
...And I’m gonna give it to ‘em.
As I write this little blog entry the moments are ticking down to the 12:01 AM showing of The Dark Knight. If you were lucky enough to get a ticket God bless ya. I’m hitting the theaters tomorrow night with a group of like-minded fan boys and girls.
I can’t wait.
The spin has been unreal concerning this next installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman series. I’ve heard of a posthumous Oscar nod for Heath Ledger, as well as, best director for Nolan and even, Best Picture has been discussed.
Any way, I should really finish this quickly since the hours are ticking away and these: http://www.comcast.net/thedarkknightmovie/#/videos/exclusives (six “exclusive videos” won’t be so exclusive in a few hours.) There’s also a game, which can be found here: http://www.comcast.net/thedarkknightmovie/game/.
“Evil Chicken”, how can this be?”
Good question, Gentle Reader. It seems that a representative from a company called Rocket XL asked me to post here on Chicken Scratch those two links if I was going to write about The Dark Knight; in return they would send me a movie ticket.
Hey, I’m in.
I’m not sure if Rocket XL was responsible for the viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight or not but just in case they were I asked for a job in my response back to the company. I’ll let you know if I’m switching vocations or not.
Until then, I’ll see you at the multiplex! As I’ve said before – THIS will be the 900-pound gorilla of the summer (see this: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2008/01/evil-chickens-spring-summer-movie.html); the definitive BATMAN on the big screen – sign me up.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I recently credited one of my favorite bands, Led Zeppelin with writing the song, “When the Levee Breaks.” I was wrong. As it turns out according to http://www.songfacts.com/ (main site and most certainly worth investigating if you are a music fan), or more specifically, http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=335, “The lyrics to this song (written by Memphis Minnie in 1927) are based on The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. African-American plantation workers were forced to work on the levee at gunpoint, piling sandbags to save the neighboring towns. Hence the lyrics, "I works on the levee, mama both night and day, I works so hard, to keep the water away." After the levee breached, blacks were not allowed to leave the area, and were forced to work in the relief and cleanup effort, living in camps with limited access to the supplies, which were coming in. Many left at the first chance since there was no work in the Delta after the destruction of all of the plantations; hence the lyrics, "Oh cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do no good" and "I's a mean old levee, cause me to weep and moan, gonna leave my baby, and my happy home”.
Rock, blues, and jazz – we really owe a debt to untold thousands of African American musicians. There is an article by Barry Lee Pearson at All Music that you should check out (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kiftxq95ld0e~T1). Of course there is always my favorite second brain too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Minnie.
I’m sorry Memphis Minnie; I didn’t know. I look forward to discovering you for myself.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
“A work of art is never completed, just abandoned.” – Guillaume Apollinaire
That’s a great quote from someone I have absolutely no idea about of whom they are. I heard George Lucas paraphrase it by substituting the word “film” for “art”. Hold on a tick; let’s check out Wikipedia…
Ok, here we are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillaume_Apollinaire. “He (Guillaume Apollinaire) was a French poet, writer and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother. Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word “surrealism” and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play, “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (1917, later used as the basis for an opera in 1947). Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at 38 of the Spanish Flu during the pandemic.”
There you go; you learn something new every day.
Anyway, let me get back on topic; please forgive me Gentle Reader; I saw a bright shiny thing.
As a Fan Boy and Movie Geek it occurs to me that there are certain movies that I would like to see happen; certain films that just ache to be made – stories that deserve to be completed and told. The last blog got me to thinking what other movies need to be completed, or rather, which films would benefit from having their plots move forward. Sequels are rarely as good as their predecessor; that being said, here is a list of films that I would like to see come to fruition. Yes, the majority of this list may be pure adolescent wish fulfillment but I’m ok with that. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of being entertained at the movies – if I wanted to weep I’d watch the news. I would pay hard money on opening night to go see at the local multiplex and I think the viewing public would be too. Without further ado here’s my list in no particular order…
1. Blade Runner II. Ridley Scott needs to be at the helm once more. I want more replicants, an older Gaff (portrayed by Edward James Olmos once more) who is a Blade Runner himself and the final answer as to if Rick Deckard was a replicant or not. For the record – I think he was.
2. Snake Plissken. John Carpenter needs to come out of his self-imposed retirement and make this movie. Kurt Russell needs to reprise this role one more time. There were plans at one time to make “Escape from Planet Earth” but they fell through when “Escape from L.A.” went belly up in the theaters. It did well on DVD and the anti-hero, Snake has always been one of my personal favorites. I'm with ya Kurt... or rather, Mr. Russell.
3. The Dark Knight Returns. How’s this for a recipe – make the third film in the current trilogy with the Riddler as the bad guy and then take some time off. Really. Now transplant the exact cast and crew into the future and make Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”. It simply could not miss. Amazing stuff and worth the wait.
4. Hellboy III. See: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2008/07/hellboy-ii-golden-army.html for all my reasons.
5. Iron Man II. John Favreau must helm and Robert Downey Jr. must reprise his role as Tony Stark – in fact, the whole cast needs to return. It has been reported that they don’t want to rush into a cookie cutter sequel and this brings a smile to my beating geek heart. With the momentum of Iron Man II they just need to keep rolling and make “Ultimate Avengers”. It looks like Marvel Films is gearing up for this to happen and I’m all a-tingle. This will Rock. Favreau should helm the project. He gets it; not only that – he wants to share it. “What’s ‘it’?” you may ask. ‘It’ is a love and appreciation for the characters and world of Marvel Comics. ‘Nuff said.
6. Mad Max IV. You could argue that Mad Max has already had his transition from losing his humanity (Mad Max), discovering that he is still part of the human race (The Road Warrior), and rejoining humanity (in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) but there is a part of me that just wants more. Mad Max needs to restart civilization; that would be a good destiny for Max.
7. King Conan: Crown of Iron. Sure Schwarzenegger is the governor of California but this is more important. Since the presidency in the United States is out why not a kingdom? Conan, in Robert E. Howard’s series becomes King so why not have it happen on the big screen? John Milius would be my choice to direct.
8. Evil Dead IV (or Army of Darkness II). Sam Rami must direct and Bruce Campbell must reprise the role of Ash. I’d love to see an older Ash up to his elbows in Deadite bad guys at the S-mart. Sharpen the old chainsaw and clean the boomstick. Groovy.
9. Indiana Jones. Yep, I don’t want to see it end and if the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull showed us anything, then there is still a lot of life left in this series. Now there’s another generation of Jones’ to keep up with.
10. Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League. This will never be made since I believe I am the only Buckaroo Banzai fan on the eastern seaboard. I’d love to see it happen but this is the long shot on a list of long shots. It would be great to see as many of the original cast reprise their roles for the twenty-first century though. Make mine Yoyodyne.
11. Goonies II. Hear me out – who wouldn’t want to see this film happen? It would need the original cast and their kids as they protect the “Goon Docks” from some new threat. If I were pitching it I’d call it “The Big Chill” meets… well, “The Goonies”. It would be a fun night at the movies.
12. 2061 – Odyssey Three. I’d love to see this one happen; of course I wish that Roy Scheider was still with us to reprise the role of Dr. Heywood Floyd. It would be great to see what the aliens from the monolith and the HAL 9000 are up to on the big screen once more. Hey – who knows, it could happen.
So there’s my dozen. I know that there is nothing new under the sun and it’s hard enough to launch anything that is ‘new’ in the movie marketplace today but still there’s a place in my matinee heart for these potential flicks.
So, did I miss anything?
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Gentle Reader – DO NOT READ THIS if you want to remain spoiler free.
Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola have stumbled onto a great little trilogy IF number 3 is made (“oh please – oh please – oh please”, Evil Chicken said crossing his fingers across his chest). Hellboy II: The Golden Army is worth the price of admission and it does something that so many sequels forget to do; continues to move the story along. This is not an introduction but a continuation. Big Red (Hellboy) is a demon summoned by the nazis during World War II who according to Wikipedia (my favorite second brain) says, “...who finds himself fighting for the U.S. government and himself against dark forces, in a series of tales that have their roots in both folklore and pulp fiction battling a range of enemies from Nazis to Baba Yaga.” Yeah… that’s about right. Oh also, you should know, Hellboy doesn’t like what he is or the plan for his life. He is destined to usher in the apocalypse, a fact that seriously conflicts him emotionally since his intentions are usually good. He becomes the poster child for free will – he knows what he is but he continually chooses to do what is right. As an outward sign of this he continuously has to file down the horns on his head.
Ok, that being said…
Hellboy II moves forward the story of Big Red (Anung un Rama), Abe Sapien (a telepathic merman) and Liz Sherman, Hellboy’s pyrokinetic (controls fire with her mind) girlfriend. Much has been happening at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) since last we met the crew. Big Red is tired of hiding from the world in secret; Abe is about to fall in love and Liz (you remember this is a SPOILER LADEN blog, yes?) is pregnant and doesn’t know how to tell Big Red. Which is a shame since a long forgotten war is about to break out anew between the Elves & other mythkind and the humans. Guillermo has an eye for the fantastic – there is always something going on in Hellboy II; whether it’s the attack of the tooth fairies (yes, you read that right), the troll marketplace (which made me think of Harry Potter’s “Diagon Alley” on steroids), a battle with an elemental (that harkens to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu lore), a meeting with Big Red’s own personal Angel of Death or the goblin built Golden Army – the visuals are stunning and something that you really haven’t seen before. There are moments where Big Red is challenged after he revels himself to the outside world and is not really excepted. The reaction that he gets is not what he expected, after all he is the good guy. Prince Nuada (portrayed masterfully by Luke Gross) asks Big Red why he fights for the humans when he has so much more in common with the opposition. When faced with this question Hellboy does not have an immediate answer – save for the love of Liz which roots him to humanity. On some level he’s a teetering on the edge of accepting his destiny of ushering in the end of the world. In the end he has gained control over the unstoppable Golden Army so he’s got the tools and the talent to do so – the mediating factor is Liz, his anchor and soon to be mother of their twins.
Oh it begs for part three – an amazing end to a very well realized series. The third, if green lit, will reportedly be a “heartbreaker” (according to Mr. Del Toro). We have the end of the world, the birth of the twins and whatever happens with Liz and Big Red to look forward to. I hope that it gets made – the story deserves it. Part of me wishes that Guillermo would make Hellboy III before he moves onto "The Hobbit".
Oh yes, I went there.
Hey, if you like having a good time at the movies go see Hellboy II. It’s no secret, I love Guillermo del Toro – the guy is good. He has one of the most unique visions in film today. Go support this movie because I can’t wait to see how it’s all gonna end.
I’ll see you at the multiplex. Oh, and before I go, after you see the movie if you are not reminded of Tom Cruise when you see the Elf Prince on the screen I’ll buy you a coffee.
March 6th – 8th in 2009, in Cherry Hill of all places, a Star Trek convention will take place and yours truly, Gentle Reader, will be there. Gory details: http://www.creationent.com/cal/stnj.htm#events. That’s right – I said it; I’m going to a Star Trek convention. I don’t know who will be appearing yet but it will be worth the visit for the experience alone.
“Have a good time.” My wife said.
“Oh come on – it’ll be fun.” I said.
“I’m sure you’ll have a good time.” She replied.
“Don’t you want to go and see the sights – share the experience?”
“How about the…”
“No.” That was three ‘NO’s – the official telemarketers cease and desist bugging me at home while I’m trying to eat dinner notice. Oh yes, I’ll play at your clever ruse – for now. Who can resist the siren call of a good Star Trek convention? It’s like the seductive dance of a green Orion Slave Girl or spelunking to a Horta or reproducing to a Tribble – it’s manna to any geek worth his or her salt.
I haven’t given up on her yet.
I think the kids will dig the experience. How often do I get a chance to embarrass and emotional scar my progeny by geeking out at a Star Trek convention? Not very often (well, at least at a Star Trek convention). Oh, who am I kidding? They’re gonna love it. Be it genetics or osmosis or proximity they are geeks too!
I am so proud.
I would like to go on record as saying that I have never owned a pair of pointy ears nor a Starfleet uniform. Costumes are not my bag, baby – at least at Star Trek conventions. There are those who do enjoy it but that’s not my scene. I’ve been more than content to watch them though; Orion Slave Girls, Vulcans, Andorians and the ever-present representatives from the Klingon Empire. Instead of the costumes, I have always been drawn to the story – the whole ‘human adventure is just beginning’ thing? I enjoy hearing the tales of those who bring the legend to life. I find it fascinating. As a guy who likes to write there are those dream jobs on projects that you would like to have a hand in helping to move forward – writing for Star Trek is one of those dream jobs. That’s pretty cool, in a geek like fashion, to hear what these guys have to say about moving the story forward.
You know, perhaps I’m looking at this whole ‘get my wife to a Star Trek convention’ thing the wrong way. Maybe I’ve been looking at this whole costume thing through jaded eyes – maybe I should learn the seductive dance of the Orion Slave Girls.
Hmmm, now where did I put that green paint?
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
“Marco Pollo – where have you been Evil Chicken?” Ah Gentle Reader, yet again I am impressed with your line of questioning and reason. I’ve been out of town, so to speak, and have not been able to keep you apprised of things as of late. Please forgive me. I hope that this little blog will answer any questions you may (or may not have had) over the course of this past week.
As it turns out a group from my church flew out to Columbus, Indiana to assist the Billy Graham Association and Samaritan’s Purse with the cleanup from the flooding that hit the area. Columbus, Indiana was hit by freak floods that left two dead (that number could have been so much higher), 2,100 households affected and 47 of those homes (and that is a low number) are scheduled to be bulldozed. Since the area was in a “500 year floodplain” 95% of those affected did not have flood insurance. Everything they had is just gone – piles of furniture, photos, memorabilia, heirlooms - gone; just piles of mud covered garbage on the corner of drying property remain. Billy Graham Association (http://www.billygraham.org/) and Samaritan’s Purse (http://www.samaritan.org/) responded immediately. The team from my church (our team) were replacement chaplains for ones that were at Columbus the week before. When we leave, we may be replaced as well, although they might deploy teams to Iowa instead of Indiana. We’ll see.
We flew into Indianapolis International Airport on 6/30/08, rented a couple of cars and headed southward to Columbus. We met out BGA site leader who was staying at the mobile office (a fifth wheel) parked at another church across town. He was a practical man who gave the team some good advice by telling us that we were not there to proselytize or to push any particular doctrine – our job is to “love onto anybody who needs it.” He explained that flexibility is key and that good listening skills were a must. “Don’t assume that you know what these people are going through even if you have been through a flood – this situation is unique and highly individualized.” This was my first time being a part of a Rapid Response Team but even I know good advice when I hear it.
We stayed in the basement of the Free Methodist Church of Columbus and our days were spent out in the community. We were housed with SPs (Samaritan’s Purse) and shared breakfast with them each morning before starting our day. There were two southern women in that church kitchen who knew what they were doing – believe me, everything is better with biscuits, sausage gravy and grits. Those with gray shirts went to their worksites and those with blue shirts went to communities. We would rendezvous for lunch at various worksites and deliver food for SPs and people working on their homes and dinners were either back at the church or we’d grab something in the community. Those ladies in the kitchen were always amazing cooking for about 50 people day in and day out. Did I mention that everything is better with sausage gravy? The Texas Roadhouse, Chik-Fil-A, and White Castle made some pretty amazing contributions to the community while we were there. White Castle provided 100 meals for us to distribute to families who are rebuilding. Providing a meal for someone is a blessing to everyone involved in the process. All we did was deliver the food, but those who provided it and those who enjoyed it deserve to be remembered.
In my mind’s eye several stories are still being sorted out so please forgive the stream of consciousness that you are about to read. I won’t include names – only stories. It is a bit of a blur. From 7/1/08 – 7/6/08, we spent our days wandering the communities providing a shoulder to cry on, to pray with or simply an ear to listen to their story of where they were when the water came. The six of us would split into teams of 3 or sometimes teams of 2. We carried bottled water with us as well. For many the water came quickly and without warning. There was one woman in her seventies told me that there was a knock at her door – it was her neighbor warning her about the threat. She said that he was standing in ankle deep water when she received the warning – 15 minutes later everything was under 4 feet of water. When it comes to a flood it doesn’t matter if you have two inches or two feet in your living room – once it’s in the damage is done. The black mold is not far behind. People’s crawl spaces and basements flooded leaving nothing but mud and wreckage behind. I saw at least four basement walls that had collapsed leaving the houses that they still precariously straddle, uninhabitable. There was one woman who told us that the insurance agent laughed when she asked about flood insurance – he didn’t think that she needed it. Everything is gone now. I met a man who is about my age; he’s a musician who just put a studio in his basement next to his Star Wars toy and comic collection. “It’s all just… stuff – junk now. I thank God that we got out at all.” The SPs were working at ripping out sheetrock, insulation and setting up fans to make sure that everything is bone dry before the new sheetrock gets tacked up onto the bare studs that the man’s home is now. He has a four year old and his wife is carrying twins. He’s looking forward to getting back into his house to make things ready. She’s due in two months. There was a woman who had been through basic training with the Army 3 times since she’s having a hard time passing her marksmanship. She was home at her father’s house mowing the lawn when she noticed that her feet were getting wet. A tornado had taken down two panels of a stockade fence that she hadn’t replaced so when she saw the three-foot wall of water coming she immediately went into the house for her truck keys and her dad. The water was thigh high and moving swiftly but they got out. I met a man who was painting a house. He smiled but you could tell that he was hurting. He told us that he was helping out a friend. He said that he didn’t live in the town but that his business was completely destroyed. He is a retired trucker who opened a restaurant up in Flat Rock (anther affected town north of Columbus). His restaurant is full of about a foot and a half of mud. It’s over for him; since it is not a residence FEMA can’t do anything for him. The SBA (Small Business Association) can’t help either due to back taxes that are still owed. We met another man who got out of his trailer just in time to save “Gizmo” his dog. The water was up to his chest as he held onto his dog – they got away, his trailer didn’t. We met a woman in her seventies who had a large group of SPs working under her trailer in Tyvek suits and facemasks. They were scraping, vacuuming and removing large amounts of spray on insulation that, literally, gets everywhere. The woman was so thankful to have the assistance – she was so proud of her grandchildren and thanked us for being there. It was at this house that our team met a young woman who was working with SP; she was a local who was volunteering with them and joined us when we traveled to Third, Fourth and Fifth streets. Her grandmother lives on sixth and the waters didn’t reach her – chances are everything from fifth down will have to be ripped away. The city will probably turn the community into a park when all is said and done; right now it resembles something out of a post-apocalyptic science fiction movie. You can walk right down the middle of the street surrounded on both sides by the flotsam & jetsam of wreckage left behind by the waters and homes that are nothing but shells – everything inside them is gone. There are notices on the doors there, which warn if nothing is done within 30 - 60 days that the city will mow them down. Yellow tape that proclaims, “DO NOT CROSS” can be found wrapped around some properties. Most of the inhabitants are gone but still there are the occasional group of workers or, even more rare, a hold out. We met such a lady there amongst the damage. She and her family live on the second floor of a home that was submerged under about nine feet of water. She was drying out her home with fans. Her father’s scooter was mud covered. I mentioned that Medicaid might be able to assist in getting another one. I told her that if they denied her request to file an appeal immediately. She has her feet dug in but it might be a losing battle to stay. We ran into an old woman in her 80s who had that 1,000 yard stare – the look that says one is still coming to grips with the shape of this new world that is reality now. She was living in her garage. We went over to talk to her. She told us that everything around her was borrowed except the only thing she still owned, her refrigerator, which amazingly still worked. She told us that if it were not for her grandson she would be dead. He came and told her that there was a flood as he moved the car to higher ground. In the time that it took him to move the car the water rose to chest height. She said that she opened a door in her house and her freezer floated into her living room. We prayed with another woman whose trailer had been lost – she’s living with her son for now and is thankful to be alive. We met an old woman who was raking her lawn of debris. Her husband died last year. I took the rake from her and finished her lawn while Danny (our team leader from my church) spoke and prayed with her. He was able to connect her with Samaritan’s Purse too, they’ll be a big help for her in the coming days. We met a young man who wanted us to visit his college; he told us that there were several people affected by the flood there, both faculty and students, so we did. It was there that we met the assistant dean of the school who encouraged us as much as we tried to encourage her. We received a call from some SPs out in the country. They were working on a home deep in a cornfield that stands next to the Flat Rock River. Living here were, “Granny” and one of her sons. Once more these people were more of an encouragement to us than we were to them. They came so close to losing everything but they were so happy and thankful for the work that was being done on their home and in their lives. Granny gleefully told us how happy she was to have her Bible replaced. She then went on to tell us that she still is very happy to go hunting and fishing. Two years ago she bagged two bucks and this past year she landed a 42-pound catfish. Granny is in her eighties. Her son has several physical issues but is content. He told us not to pray for him but to pray for the Church of Christ – we went to pray with him but he prayed for us instead. The smell of bleach was almost unbearable but Granny and her son didn’t seem to mind. We delivered a horse trailer full of sheetrock and insulation to three homes. A church about two hundred miles to the north decided to use their building fund for the flood victims instead of for it’s intended use. It was money well spent. The homeowners could not believe their eyes as we stacked the piles of sheetrock and insulation into their broken homes. There was enough to supply for three houses.
We heard words such as, “It came so fast,” “We just got out with our pets,” or “All we had… is gone,” were recurring themes; as were, “Thank you,” “God is good,” and “Could we pray together?” I remember asking our BGA (Billy Graham Association) site leader about FEMA and if they have changed since Hurricane Katrina. “Yes, they have, but people’s expectations of what they can do and what they actually do are two different things.” If you were a homeowner then FEMA can help by cutting you a check but if you rent then FEMA can’t help. The team from my church spent a lot of time in what was considered at one time, low income. These people didn’t own their homes – they were renters. Why is there suffering? I don’t have an answer for that – it’s way too far beyond me. I can tell you that Jesus asked the same question while hanging from a cross and HE didn’t get an answer either. “It is what it is,” my wife is fond of saying. There’s a lot of wisdom in that response. The bad times shape us, refine us. I once heard a woman say, “You either throw your hands up in surrender or you put up your dukes and fight.” Simplistic? maybe; but words have the taste of truth.
The trip was never about yours truly; “Oh look how wonderful Evil Chicken is!” No. Don’t believe that hype. Trust me… that is simply not the case. It was about being a part of Church of Jesus Christ – being a part of that body; it’s about seeing the hand of God moving in a community. Yes it’s about doing something for those who can’t do for themselves but it’s also about reminding people that they are not alone. The stories and the faces of the people from Columbus, Indiana will always be with me but it’s watching God move in the midst of the destruction that I will always remember.
The community of Columbus, Indiana is healing. They are progressing along through the process of grieving, cleaning up and moving on. There is a general sense that they are ready to do so. Our BGA site leader is moving southward towards Cedar Rapids, Iowa where the levees broke anew. There will be another team of chaplains responding there as well as another army of Samaritan’s Purse workers. My team got back home yesterday afternoon reuniting with our families. I missed them so; but this past week I was exactly where I needed to be.
My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the waters rise.