Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Force is Strong with This One

Earlier in the month I stumbled upon a contest being run by Ain’t It Cool News. It was a writing competition where movie geeks would re-write the duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi from the end of the movie, “Revenge of the Sith”, and submit it in script format by Labor Day. Here’re the gory details:

“…So you win a statue?”

Yes. It’s actually a Diorama of Obi-Wan and Anakin dueling from “Revenge of the Sith” produced by Sideshow Collectables. But what’s even better is that you get to write a scene from Star Wars that someone (Quint) judged to be better than George Lucas’s final draft. Now there are some geek bragging rights for ya.

Well tonight, with Mother Hen’s assistance, I just e-mailed my PDF file to Quint. I will spare you the chore of reading the entry. Rest assured if you are not a Star Wars geek, you just wouldn’t want to read it anyway. Quint (one of the reviewers from AICN) is going to have a lot of reading ahead of him these next few weeks.

Oh well, it was fun and, for the most part, it keeps me off of the streets.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The 2008 National Book Festival

How cool is this? The 2008 National Book Festival is coming to the National Mall in Washington DC on September 27th, 2008. The day will be sponsored by the Library of Congress and “about 70 different authors” will be in attendance. Please click here for the gory details: It will happen between 3rd and 7th streets from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The festival is free and open to the public.

Free? That’s my favorite price!

Although Ray Bradbury and Steven King are NOT a part of the festivities this year some other great writers are including another one of my favorites, Mr. Neil Gaiman. Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs – which are both must haves if you’ve got kids), Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses) and, an author that my kids would give their eye teeth to meet, Mr. R.L. Stine (the man responsible for the Goosebumps series). If you click on “Authors” it will give you a list of who is going to be there and at what times. Many of them will be signing copies of their books, if you are into that sort of thing.

Add in a bunch of geocaching, some history lessons and you’ve got yourself a great day in the nation’s capitol. I’m hoping that we can make it this year. I’d love to meet Mr. Gaiman and ask if he has intentions of writing a third in the American God’s series. The second, “Anansi Boys” was just a wonderful read.

Collect your books and have your pens at the ready; September 27th looks to be a winner. See you on the mall.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Busy Weekend

Busy, busy, busy. Much has transpired and I was nowhere near my keyboard to throw in my two cents. You see while Barack Obama chose a running mate (Joe Biden), the 2008 Olympics came to a close and the Democratic National Convention began out west in Denver Colorado; I was camping well actually we were camping, the EC-5. We were with the Youth Group from my church (see: this weekend. There were about 40 or so kids and about a dozen or so of us counselor types. What an amazing group of young people at summer camp this year. Some of those young men and women are on fire in their faith in Jesus Christ and how they live it in their lives; there are some who are just getting their fires started and other’s who’s flame needed to be rekindled. That’s what this weekend was about – rekindling and becoming set apart. It was something to see.

Oh there were other things to see as well.

The games schedule was unbelievable – think Survivor, Fear Factor, and The Amazing Race mixed together for a weekend of stunts and you’d be on the right track. The kids were split into the Blue and Green teams. All competitions and points were based on how well each team performed; and oh, what wonderful performances. Hey anytime that you and five of your friends have to finish a box of cereal and a gallon of milk while using no utensils but you hands or when you have to push a Fruit Loop along twenty yards of fishing line using nothing but a straw or when you have teams chewing gum furiously to see who can make the biggest wad in a given amount of time or when the candle / soda chugging competition is underway – look out; crazy stuff but good stuff. The kids bonded as teams while we counselors took turns at judging the various competitions and relays.

The food was something to see as well. There is a smoker that shows up for these events and, as Joe (our head cook) said, “Every home should have one.” I agree. The thing could heat your home as well as smoke about a dozen turkeys at the same time. It is a converted oil tank (sans oil) with a hatch, chimney and firebox welded into its frame. Oh man… the food. The smoker does amazing things to pork loins and chicken. Amazing things. I pity the vegetarians in the group but hey, the smoker even worked for them too; have you ever had smoked macaroni and cheese?

Another thing to see were the campfires; no that’s not right… the CAMPFIRES. Yeah, that’s better. Old fences, huge split logs of seasoned pine and doors can really cause a conflagration (see picture of the doorway to hell). S’mores aplenty.

Another thing to see was the Christian Rap concert by Renewed Disciples (see: Bring a hand towel because it’s time to catch fire! When the concert was over my knees were sore from jumping up and down, my voice was horse from screaming out the lyrics, my ears were ringing and the smile on my face was stuck in place. These kids and musicians have a gift and they are ready willing and able to share it. Bad Wolf (the oldest of the Three Chicks) bought a CD but she’s gonna have to wrestle me for it.

Too cool.

So that was my weekend. I was exhausted and took today (Monday) off. Tomorrow it’s back to the grind but this past weekend is going to stay with yours truly. It was a whirlwind but an unforgettably wonderful one.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

LeRoi Moore

It has been said whenever a musician dies that “Heaven must have a swingin’ band.” Well, the band just got a great saxophone player. LeRoi Moore, the saxophone player from the Dave Matthews Band passed away due to complications from an ATV accident. Here is the full story from the bands web site: and here is what Yahoo has to say: He was 46.

For my birthday one year I received tickets to see DMB at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Mother Hen and schlepped over the Walt Whitman Bridge and saw the show. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones opened the show and let me just say that “electric banjo” is a lot cooler than it sounds. It was a great evening although we did feel that we (MH and I) were on the other side of the bell curve because of our age. No that’s not the right word – maturity maybe? ...No... I was right the first time.

Oh well. Such is the way of things.

Any way, there is a lot to like when you consider the Dave Matthews Band. They are a solid group of Jazz-fusion musicians who have made some beautiful and groundbreaking music together. The albums, sorry – I mean CDs, are solid. I’ve always been partial to “Under the table and Dreaming” and “Crash” but there is a lot great music to discover in their library. One of the most wonderful things about the Dave Matthews Band is how they play live; DMB is a jam band and dependent on each of its musicians to bring something to the table. Mr. Moore always delivered. He always brought something to the party. He will be missed.

My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Moore’s friends, family at this time and the rest of DMB at this time. He was one of the founding members I hope that they continue to make beautiful music together.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Monty Python’s SPAMalot

Friends of ours called us with a half price ticket deal to go and see Monty Python’s SPAMalot over in Philly at the Academy of Music. We snapped at the chance. Due to a ticketing issue the girls sat together and I sat next to my Main Man. We quote lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as it is and now, seated in the theater at the Academy of Music? We giggled like schoolgirls.

I giggled and guffawed and tears welled in my eyes – if you get a chance go see Monty Python’s SPAMalot – do so. If you are a fan of any knight who says, “NEE!” or if you have ever considered the idea that coconuts might be migratory; you have to go. The troop will be in Philly until August 31st. You have until then to join the quest for the Grail!

Too much fun.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Open Letter of Thanks to Blogger

As it turns out you may or may not have seen a You Tube Isaac Hayes video pop up a couple of times. I tried to post a single copy of the video on 8/10/08. It didn’t work out so I wrote up a quick few sentences and a link to the Yahoo article. Well, they showed up today – both of them dated, well; today. I took them down.

Blogger (the place where yours truly posts this blog) has been experiencing some growth pains. They are updating things and that’s a good thing. You might see some technical difficulties every once in a while but the folks at Blogger do a pretty amazing job of keeping the blogisphere ship afloat.

I’ve seen the hard work and commitment it takes to run such an internet endeavor and you’ve got something to be pleased with. Thanks Blogger for all the behind the scenes stuff that make it easy for common everyday folks to have a voice and a place to get what’s inside out.


Evil Chicken

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Vintage Rose Tea Room

If you poke around this blog long enough you will begin to spot a pattern; there’s the movie stuff, the warped opinion stuff and the coffee stuff. I love the coffee stuff. I proudly post when I run into a great spot that I would like to share. Well today, Gentle Reader, I have found such a place – the trick is they do not serve coffee. Yeah, I know technically a blog about coffee should be about, well… coffee and while that is all well and good the Vintage Rose Tea Room is all about the tea.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Vintage Rose Tea Room today, which happened to be their 2nd anniversary. Who knew? I need to get out more and after today’s visit, Gentle Reader, so do you. The Vintage Rose Tea Room is a “Full service tea room & gift shop that serves afternoon tea & lunch.” I had the raspberry iced tea and a couple of scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. Fru fru? – you bet and unabashedly so (and a wonderful experience to boot). It’s worth your time. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with Mother Hen and the 3 Chicks in the near future.

They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM and Sundays from 11:00 – 4:00. I didn’t have a reservation although I heard the ladies ask other patrons if they had them. If you were so inclined their number is 856-293-0500. You can check them out on the web here: but the scones are better if you check them out in person.

…Oh yeah, they are also open for Millville’s 3rd Friday celebrations (which also happens to be tonight).

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tropic Thunder

As you may or may not know, Gentle Reader, I follow movies. Usually summer blockbusters and fan boy stuff but movies and film nonetheless. Tropic Thunder has good spin. It’s had good spin for months. It’s a satirical comedy about a group of washed up Hollywood action heroes who are accidentally put into an actual war situation. Hilarity ensues. Ben Stiller directs and stars, Jack Black is involved and so is Robert Downey Jr. That’s a good cast people.

And now people are picketing the movie. Here’s what Harry from Ain’t It Cool News said on the subject; and, low and behold, he’s got some very salient points. BTW – Harry and company do not usually shy away from language and ideals such as freedom of speech. Read the truth but be warned about the colorful metaphors that he uses to exercise said freedoms.

Mel Brooks said, “Political correctness is the death of humor.” That is a too true sort of statement. Mr. Brooks knows what he is talking about. Quite frankly I’d sooooooo much rather listen to him when it comes to funny than anyone who decides to picket a goofy satirical comedy just because the word, “retard” may or may not be used. Come on, life is entirely too short for such “controversy”. Mountainous Mole Hills are usually stacked to the heavens even when those causing the stir have NOT EVEN SEEN THE FILM! This has always amazed me and it happens on both sides of the fence – CENSORSHIP that is. Really? Yes. The pros and cons slap up picket signs and circle the wagons whenever their particular tree is shaken; see “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “The Passion of the Christ” if you don’t believe me. Both the pros and the cons were marching in front of the theaters for both these films. Both looked at the figure of Christ from different views and both were “controversial”. People picketed both of them.

…And for what? Really? For what?

If you don’t want to see a movie don’t go. Don’t support it with your hard earned dollars. But please, PLEASE don’t moan, complain or gripe about it unless you have actually SEEN the film. How myopic can you be? Hey here’s a novel idea, you don’t like the music that’s playing on the radio? Change the station. How about that TV show that got you upset about the plight of dogs in Ireland or China or wherever? Don’t watch it. Move along. There’s nothing to see here. It’s just not for you. And that’s ok – do you know why Gentle Reader? It’s because the world does not revolve around you or I for that matter. It is what it is. Oh we can do the whole ostrich thing and hide our heads in the sand but in spite of our very best efforts, the world moves on.

As tempting as Book Burning, film picketing, TV boycotts, music censorship or the whole concept of the thought police may be to you – you can not make an idea or ideal disappear just because its vehicle of deliverance is burnt, picketed or destroyed. You can’t pretend that people don’t have thoughts just because the ever-changing powers that be decide to burn them. That’s a bit fascist, no? You can burn a book but an idea? It’s just not that easy. Nor should it be.

Sermon over.

That being said I can’t wait to see Tropic Thunder at the multiplex. I hear that it is well written, acted and directed and that sounds like a winning ticket to me. The film points out the hypocrisy of Hollywood – something that is ripe to be lampooned. The movie is rated “R” so don’t bring the kiddies. It opens on 8/13/08. I’ll see you at the multiplex for this one – I’ll be the one smuggling in his Junior Mints and dodging the picketers.

The film will bring the funny; and I for one can’t wait.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

“Just Talkin’ Bout Shaft!”

Isaac Hayes has passed. Here’s the story from Yahoo:

He was the man who did the theme from Shaft, the A # 1 King of New York from Escape from New York and Chef from South Park.

He’ll be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Beijing Olympics

By chance did you see the opening ceremonies? Amazing. If you did not, here is the NBC link (be warned though, you’re gonna have to jump through a few hoops and advertisements before the clip shows. It is, however, worth it.): Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject: Zhang Yimou pulled off something that will be hard to duplicate. Something wonderful.

I’m not a big sports guy but I do enjoy a good epic. It’s this epic that attracts me most to the Olympics. For China this is big and that’s saying something. The opening ceremonies cost about 300 million dollars and about 150,000 performers to pull off. The drummers, the jaw dropping technology and pyrotechnics, the shear spectacle was simply astonishing. I pity London in 2012 – they are going to have a hard act to follow. China’s sleeping giant has awakened.

Beijing has rocketed up my list of places to see before I keel over and assume room temperature. The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, The Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square are all good reasons to visit the city; now add to this list the Beijing National Stadium (or “Bird’s Nest”) and you’ve got an unforgettable experience.

You know, I’ve put off hitting the lottery and applying for passports for far too long. I’m gonna get right on that.

Enjoy the Olympics!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

(Special thanks to Wikipedia, my favorite second brain, for what you are about to read.)

The Police had a song called “Born in the Fifties” on their 1978 album Outlandos d’Amour. I loved that album and can still belt out any of the cuts, which appear therein, but something always tripped me up. It was the lyrics of the refrain of the song; “We were BORN… born in the fifties! BORN… born in the fifties!” No matter how much I wanted to identify myself with the band or as much as I loved that song I couldn’t honestly sing those words. I was not a “Baby Boomer”. Oh I could sing along with the best of ‘em but I would never be one of them.

Jack Kerouac wrote a depressing book called, “On The Road”. It is a hard read but worth the trip. This man influenced an entire generation of thinkers, writers and artists. He was from the “Silent Generation”. Kerouac coined the term, “Beat Generation”, as in, “This is one beat generation,” as he was speaking of his peers, himself and the times they were living in. Even though I was depressed with “On The Road”, the story has a way of growing on you; there is an epic quality to his both literary and geographic ramblings. As much as I’d like to call myself a “Beatnik”, I cannot.

Tom Brokaw in his 1998 book, “The Greatest Generation” argued that the soldiers who fought in World War II were among, “the greatest generation any society has produced.” He reasoned that the soldiers “fought not for the fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.” Some historians criticized this concept saying that it was a slap to the side of the head for the Baby Boomers who, by the way, owe their entire existence to “The Greatest Generation”. As important to our world history as “The Greatest Generation” is there's no possible way I could stand in their ranks.

“Why is that?” you might ask. I’ll tell you why… it’s because I am “Generation X”; pure and simple. Please see: to see where you fit. Because I was born in 1968 that puts me firmly into Generation X territory and as much as I’d like to sing with Sting or be on the road with Jack; they are not of my generation. I appreciate and love ‘em both but when they were at the height of their powers they were playing for another crowd. …Hey, I was 10 when Outlandos d’Amour was released.

So here’s the rundown… There’s the Lost Generation (people who came of age in the United States after WWI), the Greatest Generation (WWII), the Silent Generation (a generation born between two world wars. My father was part of the Silent Generation.), the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, give or take.), Generation X (1965 – 1979), Generation Y (1980 – 1986), the Echo Boom (1987 – 1990), and Generation Z (1990 – 2008). Generation Z “are the people that are born in the 1990s and will reach adulthood in the 2010s and enter the workforce around 2015-2020. This group of people are generally thought to be instant minded, as they are born in the world of digital technology and gadgets.” GZ is our future.

GZ has no idea who The Police are (or were), if Outlandos d’Amour is a decent album at all or, for that matter, what an “Album” is. Oh well, such is the way of things. We stand on the shoulders of all who have come before our time. Who knows where Generation Z’s children will take us? I’d like to be around to see whatever happens happen next.

Only time will tell.