Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Non – Resolutions

There is a lot of craziness that happens here at Rancho del Evil Chicken. We’ve had an interesting year. I’m not going to rehash such events… if they were blog-worthy then you probably know about them already. If they were not fit for blog-consumption then they never made the electronic pages of Chicken Scratch.

Oh well.

After getting into a lot of trouble this past year (most of it legal, I might add) I find that it’s good to have a plan of attack. This being said some of the best adventures are spur of the moment jaunts that only require my cache bag or a change of clothes for yours truly and the family. Still it’s good to have some sort of idea of where you’re hoping to head. It should be noted that this is in NO WAY related to any type of ‘resolution’. In the words of Jimmy Buffett, “I’ll make a resolution that I’ll never make another one.” Bubba’s right. I’m not talking resolutions, I’m talking possible outcomes. That being said here are some of the things that I would like to see transpire in the new year…

1. I want to do some camping. We missed out on Assateague Island camping this past father’s day and I’d love to go back. I also wouldn’t mind camping at Point Lookout State Park in Maryland or several other destinations. That being said I am lusting after an RV. Confession is good for the soul.
2. Geo-Woodstock IX. This is on the list of possibilities.
3. Read more comic books.
4. I want to figure out the best way to wear my watch – top of the wrist or slung on the bottom. Hard to say. Now that I’m packin’ a solar atomic perhaps topside is the way to go …still I’m used to the underside. In the coming year I want to decide on what is best for my chronometer.
5. Read more eBooks.
6. Geocache more. There was a time when we did a lot of caching. That time is not now. These days we attend more events then we actually cache. I’d like to turn that around.
7. Eat more Sushi.
8. I want my oldest daughter to get her license. For far too long I have had to drive to Wawa for coffee. NAY! Says I. During this New Year SHE’S gonna get a license so I can send her on coffee runs.
9. Be a part of at least one book signing.
10. I need to be at the opening night showings for the following movies: “Green Lantern”, “THOR”, “Captain America – the First Avenger”, “Sucker Punch”, “Rise of the Apes”, “Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides”, “X-Men – First Class”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II” AND “Cowboys & Aliens”. Why the Need? Well, I detest the idea of people spoiling movies / deflating stories for me. It’s not their job but so many are so good at it that it is best if I just go to the theater. It’s part of my geekdom and it’s a ‘win – win’.
11. Figure out what a good birthday present and anniversary present would be for Mother Hen. This is not as easy as it sounds. I’m open for suggestions.
12. Figure out online storage.
13. Be a better coupon shopper.
14. I want to do New York City with the family. I figure that it’ll be a nice long weekend – hopefully during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Brooklyn. “Brennan & Carr’s” roast beef is calling… so is “Forbidden Planet” and Times Square. Yup, I want to be a tourist.
15. I want to take the family to Sleepy Hollow, New York. I have only wanted to do this for the last 5 years or so. In 2011 I’d like to see it come to pass.
16. Listen to more MP3s.
17. Get passports for the family. They’ll come in handy if we decide to push north, to hop on a cruise ship or to Europe or China.
18. Continue to maintain a flushing toilet.
19. To make Kenji the happiest dog known to man.
20. Get into more trouble with my family. Not to pat ourselves on the back but we’re good at it. Such shenanigans should continue.

There is nothing too serious on this list. For a hopefully refreshing change I’m pulling back on the whole ‘drama’ reigns. I have a more serious list (still sans resolutions) but that’s not what this particular list is all about. While there’s nothing too out of step on the above list I’d like to think that it’ll be worth our time. And time, I don’t have to tell you by now… what a fleeting commodity it is.

What’s in YOUR plans for the New Year, Gentle Reader? Who knows, perhaps we can share an adventure or two together in 2011? I hope that will be the case.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

TRON Legacy

I am of the geek generation that remembers and keeps the original “TRON” close to their heart. Yes it was the eighties. Yes the original is not an “A list” film. But who cares?


I said, “WHO CARES?” It is TRON and it did far more to explain those new contraptions called “personal computers” than IBM ever did. You see with TRON there existed a world within a world. It was a world where programs were forced to fight for their lives on the games grid in hopes of surviving for the next battle and the chance of connecting with their User – you and I, Gentle Reader, here in the “real world”. I will be the first to say that YES the original was flawed. That being said I will also tell you that I LOVED the first film. I wanted to believe that those Basic programs that we were playing with had a life of their own. I wanted to believe that there was some connection, nay, some network out there where thought and idea and passion and creativity could live in harmony. I wanted to believe that communication could be free and powerful and available to the masses. TRON wanted to believe it too.

Fast forward about 28 years... It still wants to believe and so do I.

If you wish to remain pure STOP READING NOW!

Still here?


Here is what I LOVED. TRON is back. It is not a reimagining – it’s a sequel! And, dare I say, to a film that deserved one. This film owes its existence to Comic Con. Two years ago a trailer was made and it shook the pillars of geek heaven. Disney took notice and BAM “TRON Legacy” became a reality. I loved seeing the Recognizers, the Light Cycles, the Tanks, the Grid and the Jeff Bridges as Flynn once more. Technically this is a beautiful and eye candy laden film. The battles on the Grid, the nostalgic scenes in “Flynn’s Arcade” and the Light Cycle stuff are banging enough to warrant the price of a ticket. If you are a child of the late seventies and early eighties you have a place at TRON.

That being said, here is what I would have liked to have seen. TRON. He’s there. You know that he is. It’s obvious. But this is (as with the first film) less about TRON and more about Flynn. TRON is delegated to a lackey in a faceless helmet. This time around I’d expect a little more. TRON is Darth Vader in this one. He is the program that NO ONE wants to face on the Grid. Clu, Jeff Bridges / Flynn’s ageless digital doppelganger and all around bad guy has enslaved TRON into being an unbeatable bad ass / enforcer figure that only a User (Sam – Flynn’s son) can almost challenge. There is a brief moment of faceless recognition and redemption but it is BRIEF! I want TRON!

Come to think of it I’d also like to see Yori. There are female programs out there too. Also there was a cameo that I was REALLY pulling for – I wanted to see the “Tron Guy” someplace – anyplace in this film! He would have been a VERY welcome little aside. Producers: if there is to be a third (and I am pulling for one) Do Not Overlook the Tron Guy. Hey Daft Punk got their cameo (Brilliant soundtrack BTW) why not Tron guy?

What else do I want? I want TRON’s world to be hooked into the our current understanding of the world of computing. I don’t want TRON on Flynn’s personal server; no I want him on the World Wide Web, Baby! I want TRON global. When you go to Facebook I want to know that programs lives are at stake! I want to know that there are programs fighting for every transaction you make in Farmville or in Mafia Wars. I want to see it. I want to see libraries of programs working for Wikipedia or Google or Bing. I want to see epic battles of Networks VS Viruses. I want to understand their world by understanding ours. I want to see some correlation between the world of TRON and our everyday – fact searching, internet using, Facebook & Twitter incorporating world. Bring it on.

NOTE: Remember when I said “SPOILERS”? Also, I want to understand the ending. Quara is here in our world. I can see Users being digitized into the world of TRON but having programs re-digitized into our world – the real world, needs a little explanation. Something. Anything.

Come to think of it why doesn’t Sam show her a sunrise?

I do not wish to leave you with the idea that I was completely disappointed. No, that is simply not the case. I dug “TRON Legacy” and the only issues I had were that ones that I have already discussed. To the creative talent and purse holders at Disney – Please, PLEASE, PLEASE! consider TRON 3.0. All of the questions could have answers and YOU guys are off to a wonderful Act III!

“So Evil Chicken, should I buy a ticket?”

Yes, Gentle Reader, do so. You will not be disappointed with the performances of Mr. Jeff Bridges as both Flynn and Clu or with the absolutely wonderful eye candy that the Grid will provide. Support this movie. I REALLY want a part III!

So will you, Gentle Reader, so will you.

End of line…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This past Sunday the family piled into the car to go to see “A Christmas Carol” at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. It was an unbelievable production that I could not recommend higher. I could go on but that is not really what this tale is about. You see when we returned from North Jersey back to our home in South Jersey a certain something was missing – that something was our dog, “Kenji”. Kenji is a Japanese Chin (think hairy pug) with the gentlest of dispositions and temperaments. In our haste to get into the car and onto the road we must not have seen him slip out the door.

“Kenji is missing.” My wife said to me. It was an instant after we got home.

What – how is that possible?” I knew it was unanswerable as soon as I asked.

We grabbed flashlights and took to the woods.

“KENJI!” we repeated again and again into the cold, cold darkness.


He was gone.

We ushered the kids inside while my wife and I took an extensive driving tour of our immediate neighborhood. He is a small dog and he really couldn’t get too far if he tried. We scoured the roads looking for something we didn’t want to see but had to rule out.


We rejoined the kids at home agreeing that not finding his body was a good sign and we concluded that he must have been picked up. We explained the situation to the family and formulated a plan to call the local shelters in the morning & the municipal building for animal control & to make and distribute “LOST DOG” signs for the local Wawa.

We cried.

We prayed.

The next day I started calling. I spoke with a wonderful lady named Cathleen who works at the Buena Vista municipal building concerning our situation. She took my information, description and cell number. She said that she would follow up with the animal control officer to see if he had picked up any small, white dogs with tan spots. I thanked her and called the Cumberland County SPCA. They weren’t open, apparently on Mondays they open at 1:00 PM. I called the Atlantic County Animal Shelter. They had no dogs that fit Kenji’s description. After 1:00 PM I paid a visit to the Cumberland County SPCA. They were crazy busy. I gave a woman Kenji’s description and my cell number. She told me to take a seat while she checked to see if there were any dogs that matched Kenji’s description in the back.

They did not.

We drove out to “Ron’s Animal Shelter”. Ron told us that he only served Salem County.

We went home.

“We don’t know where Kenji is but we hope he is happy and safe. We don’t know if we will see him again.” We explained to the kids. Our youngest child’s face fell and she began to tear up.

So did I.

Sometimes you simply don’t realize how much you care about something until it’s gone. It is easy to take things for granted – as given. I mean Kenji is the sweetest dog that anyone could ask for and we let him slip out of our fingers. This gentle and trusting creature that we had taken care of for the last six years and who was a part of our family, our pack, was gone; just gone. Night time closed down upon once us again; a second night without our Kenji. Unanswerable questions lingered; was he safe? Was he happy? Was he even alive?

The next day I receive a call on my cell phone. It was Cathleen. “Someone has found your dog!”


“Yes, but he’s been hit by a car.” She gave me a name and a number of a woman who had called to report that she had an injured little white dog with tan spots. “I knew it was your dog!” she said. I thanked her for everything she had done for my family. “Merry Christmas!” she said.


I called my wife. She called the woman. My wife picked me up and explained to me that Kenji had been hit by a car, that one of his eyes was damaged, he had some teeth missing and he was not able to stand for long periods of time. We knew what that might mean. We wanted Kenji back but we certainly did not want to prolong any suffering that he may be enduring. We simply did not know so we drove on in silence neither of us voicing our concerns for whatever may come. Then we were there.

We met Emily and her husband Tim, the people who had saved our dog’s life. And then, there he was. He stumbled to his feet and his tail started to wag before he collapsed. Tim picked him up and put him onto a table in their kitchen. Kenji rolled over to have his belly scratched. I began to cry as I scratched away at this tiny 11 lbs bundle that had been the source of such concern and loss.

“He’s your dog.” Emily said. “I can tell. You never know these days. But he’s your dog.”

“We have a friend of ours who is a retired veterinarian and he came over with his kit. He’s had a cortisone shot and he has a concussion. I don’t know if he can see out of that eye.” Tim said.

“We don’t know how to thank you.” Linda said. “There is a reward…”

“As a reward for taking care of your dog we wanted to see if you had a church family and if you didn’t then we would like you to come to our church.” Emily said.

“We have a church family.” I said. “We go to Calvary Chapel in Vineland. In fact we’re doing a play…”

“That’s what we were doing Sunday night at our church in Milmay, the Milmay Christian Church, when I got the call from Billy saying that he had found a dog that had been hit by a car. He found him on the white line of the road and thought he was dead. That is until he got close enough and that little head looked up towards him.” Tim said. He brought him to our church. Everyone there helped. He wasn’t bleeding and it looked as if he didn’t have any broken bones but his core temperature was low. He was cold and wet and dying. He was just there in the road waiting to be hit again and that would have been it.”

“Unbelievable.” I said still scratching Kenji’s belly.

“We love animals and I’ve really taken to this little guy.” Tim said. “Anyway, he is having a hard time standing and is going to need some help going outside to the bathroom. When we first got him he couldn’t walk at all. He started trying to stand yesterday and now he is starting to walk again. All over the place but he’s improving. It’s neurological; probably from the concussion. He’ll be alright especially when he gets home to his own grounds.”

“He has his own Facebook page.” Emily said. “We had this dog and knew that he belonged to someone. While he was frozen and soaked we could smell the shampoo. We knew that there was a family out there somewhere who was searching for this little guy.”

“I don’t know how to thank you.” I said.

“Are you sure we can’t give you anything?” Linda asked.

“All we wanted was to use this situation as a chance to bring someone closer to the Lord.” Emily said. “But you are already part of a church family.”

We took Kenji outside and watched him stumble, wobble, fall and get back up again. “See! He couldn’t do that a few days ago.” Tim said. “He’s gonna be all right. It will just take some time.”

We thanked them again and took Kenji back home for a reunion which included tears and hugs and many, many belly scratches. Kenji is home again with his family. He’s mending and sore but he is back home with us for Christmas. We owe a debt to Billy, the man who stopped to scoop our dog off of the road, to Cathleen, the lady who put the pieces of the puzzle together and, of course, to Tim & Emily. We are so thankful and humbled for the kindness that they showed to a strange, helpless, injured creature on a dark, cold night. Their gesture reminds me of the reward that was refused but in a certain sense, received. They refused any monetary remuneration and instead gave all the glory to God. They never thought of themselves but thought of others knowing that by serving a helpless and wounded animal that they were really serving the Lord - for His glory. While we attend different churches we are a part of the same body – the same family. This Christmas season, Gentle Reader, know that you too can come home.

We are thankful.

What once was lost has now been found and just as Tiny Tim said in the play that we saw that fateful night that we first missed Kenji, “God bless us every one.”

Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader; God bless us, every one.

…Now if you’ll excuse me I have a belly to scratch.