Monday, December 31, 2012

Wait for it...

 Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Project 365


A friend of mine, let’s call him Dirty Bird, met for a cup of coffee recently and he turned me on to something called, Project 365.


“Have you heard of Project 365?” he asked.  He had about 8 years ago asked a similar question about something called Geocaching.  Geocaching exploded into a great pastime for both of us.  I don’t get out as often as I would like these days but it is still well worth exploring.

“It sounds familiar but I don’t know what it is.” I said.

“It’s where you take a picture a day for 365 consecutive days.” He said. “You have a record of entire year.”  He went on to explain that there were several online sites that supported this project.

That sounded very interesting to yours truly so I took to my friend the internet to find more information.  Back in January of 2004, a student, George Taylor McKnight decided that taking a picture a day would not only improve his photography skills but it would also chronicle a year in his life.  The unexpected bonus and the true reason why I’m thinking about doing this is that it made him appreciate the journey and the people he met along the way more.  Here is Mr. McKnight’s site: http://gtmcknight.com/365/. 

While all that is well and good there is a certain amount of discipline that comes with participating in a photo essay activity like, Project 365; a certain amount of commitment.  So then I sought out people who had done it and what sort of tips they could offer and I found this: http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/project-365-take-a-photo-a-day/.  Fortunately, taking a camera with you wherever you go has gotten a lot easier due to my favorite new companion (next to my Swiss Army knife), the smartphone.  I may utilize Flickr or Pinterest to make this happen – I honestly haven’t decided which yet but I can say that I am on board.

So there it is, inspiration in a cup of coffee, an old friend, and a smartphone camera.  Are you looking for a project that will not only make you take better pictures but may also change the way you look at the world?

I’m in.

What about YOU, Gentle Reader?  In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it.”

Don’t miss.

 


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movies Post-Mayan Apocalypse 2013 Edition

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.G. K. Chesterton

I am a fan of the story.  I am madly in love with it and the various vehicles in which a story is told.  One of my favorite story delivery devices is film.  I love the movies.  That said, Gentle Reader, here are some of the movies & films that are of particular interest to yours truly in this coming year.  Some are downloads (legal, of course) or Redbox offerings but some… some are worth the price of admission; some, dare I say, are worth 12:01 viewings in a darkened arena with 200 or so fellow fans who appreciate the joys of the story. 

The right story is worth that. 

There is a Hopi Native American saying that goes, “The one who tells the stories rules the world.”  Robert McKee, who makes his living training others in the art of storytelling said, “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”  Muriel Rukeyser, is credited for saying, “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” 

They are right.

The craft and art of the story is taken very seriously in this dojo.  I can remember screaming at the end credits of films that squandered the chance for greatness due to filmmakers who fumbled the opportunity that they were given or studios that wanted to cheap out, grab a big opening weekend and fall off the face of the earth.  Rest assured, there is a responsibility when it comes to storytelling.  Care, or lack of care, for what has been entrusted to you shows.  I can only hope that the following list of movies and/or films, which are going to be released in 2013, take it, the art of the story, as seriously as it deserves to be treated. 

NOTE: the dates that I’m about to provide are subject to change.  Heck, the movies too; “The Great Gatsby” was supposed to come out Christmas 2012 but now is set for 5/10/13, smack in between, “Iron Man 3” & “Star Trek: Trek Into Darkness”.  We’ll see how that move works out for the studios as time unfolds.

SO NOW, without further ado, here is what is on eChicken’s radar…

1/11 – “Zero Dark Thirty”.  In 2008, Kathryn Bigelow beat out her ex-husband James Cameron who made, “Avatar”, for best director and best picture with, “The Hurt Locker”.  She knows how to tell a modern warfare story and she is an excellent choice to bring the hunt for Osama bin Laden to the big screen.  People in high places are shivering a bit at the film’s portrayal of the use of torture in the hunt.  I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.  That said, it’s on my list.

1/25 – “John Dies at the End”.  As per IMDB, “A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?”  This intrigues me – well, there’s that and it has Paul Giamatti in it and the guys is awesome.  I’d like to see this while its in theaters.  It’s good to support strange and soon-to-be cult cinema when & while you can.

2/14 – “A Good Day to Die Hard”.  You know the premise.  This time John McLane has his son with him.  Bruce Willis is a hometown boy (he’s from South Jersey) and, therefore, I have a soft spot for him. 

3/8 – “Oz the Great & Powerful”.  I love Mr. Sam Rami.  He has given the world some great cinema including, “Evil Dead I & II”, “Army of Darkness”, Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2”, he is a storyteller worth following.  So just how did Oz get over the rainbow to the Emerald City?  This film will answer that question.  I need some answers and Mr. Rami is gonna be providing them.

3/15 – “Carrie”.  This is a tough one for me.  You see, the original still holds water for me.  Sissy Spacek’s 1976 performance in the title role still sends shivers down my spine.  Throw in a young John Travolta and base it on a novel from Mr. Steven King and you’ve got a winning combination.  IMDB says about the 1976 version, “A young, abused and timid 17-year-old girl discovers she has telekinesis, and gets pushed to the limit on the night of her school's prom by a humiliating prank.”  The same can be said for the 2013 version.  I think I’ll rent the original – although, I may be surprised.

4/5 – “Jurassic Park 3D”.  Twenty years ago one of my all time heroes, Mr. Steven Spielberg gave the world, “Jurassic Park” which, for the time, set the high water mark for digital effects and its use in film.  Come April, it will be back in theaters given the 3D treatment.  This is one of my daughter’s all time favorite films so chances are I’ll be going to the theater to see it on the big screen again.  THAT is a good thing.

4/12 – “The Evil Dead”.  This is a remake that scares me for all the right reasons.  Instead of being frightened that there is a re-imagining of a cult classic produced and staffed by a studio looking for a quick buck & throw away, teen-of-the-week cast I take heart in knowing that Mr. Sam Rami and Mr. Bruce Campbell (‘Hail to the King, Baby’) are producing it.  These two care about this project.  It’s their baby.  Early spin says that this is going to scare the pants off a lot of people at the movies.  Who needs pants?  I’m in.

4/19 – “Oblivion”.  There appears to be a resurgence of Science Fiction at the movies and that makes my geek heart smile.  Mr. Tom Cruise stars as a repair man from the future who stumbles upon a conspiracy.  I like Tom Cruise and when he is in the right role and firing on all cylinders it’s something to behold.  Mr. Morgan Freeman is in this too.  It looks interesting and I like an interesting time at the movies.  Here is the synopsis, “One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.”  It’s as I said, interesting. 

5/3 – “Iron Man 3”.  Make Mine Marvel.  Mr. Robert Downey Jr. is the embodiment of Tony Stark.  They are adding the Mandarin (Mr. Ben Kingsley) to the mix this time out.  Mr. Shane Black is at the helm.  Downey and Black worked on a great little picture, “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang” and the two are going to raise the stakes for old Shell Head.  Synopsis from IMDB, “Tony Stark uses his ingenuity to fight those who destroyed his private world and soon goes up against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin.”  This will also set things up for the next phase in Marvel movies and, ultimately, “Avengers 2”.  I will be at the theater opening day. 


5/10 – “The Great Gatsby”.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the roaring twenties comes to the big screen again, this time with Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.  IMDB’s synopsis, “Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby's circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.”  Fitzgerald’s book is not an easy read and it is not a ‘feel good’ story.  That said, it is an important one.  I hope that the studio reconsiders it’s placement in the summer line up.  This film may be worth exploring but it is sandwiched between two juggernauts.

5/17 – “Star Trek Into Darkness”.  Mr. J.J. Abrams gave us a retooled Star Trek that I continue to put in the Blu-ray player once or twice a year.  I love Star Trek and I’m not alone.  There is a reason that Star Trek has lived as long as it has and has prospered as much as it continues to do.  I am so looking forward to this next trip to the 23d century.  Still, I have questions, is Benedict Cumberbatch playing Gary X or is he playing Khan?  It is a very small circle that knows the answer to this question and on 5/17 those answers are opening up for the world to behold.  I will boldly go to a theater at 12:01 AM for this one, Gentle Reader.  Boldly go.


6/11 – “After Earth”.  Mr. M. Night Shyamalan is at the helm and Will Smith and his son, Jaden are, as the IMDB synopsis says, “After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet that was evacuated by humans 1,000 years earlier.”  I really want this to work.  I hope it does.

6/11 – “Much Ado About Nothing”.  So what project does Mr. Joss Whedon the man responsible for a BILLION dollar franchise (I’m looking at you, “Avengers”) choose for his follow up?  Why the Bard, of course!  Lest there be no doubt, I love Joss Whedon.  He knows how to tell a tale and this looks like a breath of fresh air.  To the IMDB! “A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.”  This will be golden.  I think that Mother Hen & I will sneak out to see this one.  It will shine or be shiny for all you Whedon fans out there.

6/14 – “The Man of Steel”.  Mr. Zack Snyder is at the helm of this retelling of the Superman story.  Already in that last sentence I have given two reasons why I will be in the theater opening day (if not 12:01 AM), Zack Snyder & Superman.  Mr. Snyder gets sequential storytelling.  This is the man who did what no one thought could be done, he brought, “The Watchmen” to the screen and he did it well.  He is an excellent choice for bringing Kal-El to the big screen again.  DC / Warner has a lot riding on the success of this film.  If all goes well, this film will be the tent pool that the rest of their movie universe stems from.  They want a Justice League movie and the only way to do it right is to follow Marvel’s example of having stand-alone films and team assembling spectaculars.  This will be the beginning.  I want to be there.


6/21 – “World War Z”.  I was so happy when I heard that Max Brooks book was coming to the big screen.  When I heard that Brad Pitt and his company, “Plan-B” were attached I still didn’t lose hope.  Then I heard of the massive rewrites and I got scared.  Why would you mess with such a winning formula?  Just shoot it documentary style and you’re not only true to the source material you also have the opportunity to make a thinking person’s zombie film.  You have a chance to say something.  Then I saw the trailer and I’m not convinced ANYONE attached to the movie read the book.  I truly hope that I’m wrong.  Brooks’ story deserves much better than that.  Here’s hopin’.

6/28 – “Kick-Ass 2”.  Bring on Hit-Girl!  IMDB synopsis, “The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.”  Theater?  Perhaps.  With so many films being released vying for my pocket change I’m gonna have to be choosey. 

7/3 – “The Lone Ranger”.  I remember seeing Clayton Moore in a stage show in Vineland, NJ, of all places, back in the eighties.  He must have been close to his eighties himself at the time but it didn’t matter because, the Lone Ranger was standing right before my eyes.  The original stared Mr. Moore as the title character and Mr. Jay Silverheels as the other half of the team, Tonto.  This is a project that needs to be handled with care and, like a spark, fanned into life.  That task has been put to Mr. Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp, & Armie Hammer.  Gore & Depp gave the world Captain Jack Sparrow.  Now they are heading westward.  Depp is Tonto & Hammer is the Lone Ranger.  IMDB synopsis, “Native American spirit warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.”  Will I be at the theater?  Who am I to mess with a legend, Kemosabe?

7/12 – “Pacific Rim”.  Giant monsters verses giant robots.  Sounds like a huge slice of cheese until you mention the fact that Mr. Guillermo del Toro is at the helm.  Mr. Del Toro is another one of my heroes – the man knows how to tell a story.  Further, he knows how to make the impossible and the fantastic real.  He will make you believe and, Gentle Reader, I want to believe.  This is the film that he made when the studios in an amazing display of short-sightedness pulled out of, “At the Mountains of Madness”.  Now I ask you, who else in the entire world would you hire to bring H. P. Lovecraft to life on the big screen other than Guillermo del Toro?  My ranting aside, this is an opening day picture for me.  Did I mention giant monsters verses giant robots?


7/19 – “R.I.P.D.”.  Based on a graphic novel that I have not read that stars Mr. Ryan Reynolds & Mr. Jeff Bridges.  I have a soft spot for Mr. Bridges ever since, “TRON”, “The Big Lebowski”, and the remake of, “True Grit”.  IMDB has this to say about the movie, “A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.”  It’s billed as an action – comedy.  It sounds like it might be fun.

7/26 – “The Wolverine”.  Mr. Hugh Jackman is back in the title role of one of fandoms favorite mutants, Wolverine.  The man is amazing; he does it all, he sings, he dances, he has claws & a mutant healing factor – really, he does it all.  The last studio foray, “Wolverine: X-Men Origins” was a disappointment for the producers and anyone else who has even remotely brushed up against a comic book or saw any of the other “X-Men” movies.  Mr. Jackman wants to make amends and I think he’ll do just that.  This outing finds Wolverine in Japan where he trains with a samurai warrior.  I’m not sure what era this takes place in but I’m more than ready for my healing factor to kick in and move forward with this character & series.  “The Wolverine” just may be worth the price of admission.  

8/2 – “Red 2”.  I liked the first one on Blu-ray.

8/2 – “300: Rise of an Empire”.  I liked the first one on Blu-ray.

9/13 – “I, Frankenstein”.  Ok, I’m a sucker for a good Frankenstein story.  Whether this particular film is a good Frankenstein story remains to be seen; however, Mr. Aaron Eckhart is playing the role of Adam (the Monster) and Mr. Bill Nighy is in the mix too.  Those are two good players.  The synopsis makes it sound like an Underworld story and, who knows; maybe that’s not a bad thing?  “Frankenstein's creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.”  We shall see what we shall see.

10/25 – “The World’s End”.  I need to go on record.  I love Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, & Nick Frost.  There – I said it.  Confession is good for the soul; still who couldn’t love the team that brought the world, “Shawn of the Dead” & “Hot Fuzz”?  “The World’s End” is the third and final film in the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy (BOOM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Flavours_Cornetto_trilogy).  There is humor and more than a little heart in what they do.  Mr. Martin Freeman is a part of the cast this go round and that sounds wonderful.  IMDB synopsis, “Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival.”  Will I be there at the theater for this one?  NO DOUBT.  My oldest daughter would kill me if we didn’t go see it. 


11/1 – “Ender’s Game”.  Based on the book from Orson Scott Card, Harrison Ford & Ben Kingsley take a gifted child and turn him into a destroyer of worlds.  It is a great story that I hope makes a good translation to film.  Here is the synopsis, “70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion.” 

11/8 – “THOR: The Dark World”.  This is the second Marvel film in 2013 that lays the foundation for “Avengers 2”.  Mr. Alan Taylor is at the helm.  From what I can gather he has done a pretty jaw-dropping job of directing a half dozen episodes of, “A Game of Thrones” and it was because of this that Marvel sought him out to direct the new THOR movie.  They are looking for storytellers who can make the fantastic real.  That suspension of disbelief is integral to authenticating imaginary worlds.  Here is the IMDB synopsis, “Thor battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness after the events of The Avengers.”  My fanny is in a theater opening day.  Make Mine Marvel.

12/13 – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”.  Today, the very day that I am writing this particular blog Mr. Peter Jackson’s, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” world wide made half a billion dollars.  That’s enough to buy second breakfasts for the whole of New Zealand and Middle Earth combined.  Mr. Jackson knows Middle Earth.  He’s been there.  He’s had the good tilled earth between his toes at the Shire and has smelled the seed cakes baking in Bilbo’s oven at Bag End.  He knows Middle Earth.  Fortunately, Mr. Jackson also knows how to tell a story and, it is my joy to say, the world if richer for it.  The cast that he has assembled for “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy were simply spot on and practically lifted from that special place in the ether where authors and readers meet.  “The Hobbit” is pure wonder and joy on the big screen.  J.R.R. Tolkien would have been proud, Mr. Jackson ~ the same can be said for the cast & crew.  He would have been proud.  The IMDB synopsis is as follows, “The Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the misty mountains, but Bilbo has gained the one ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back off the Dragon, Smaug.”  Wonder & joy; and you know, the world needs more of just that.  I will be in a theater seat with my entire family at 12:01 AM.  There is no doubt in my mind.   


<<<>>>

So that’s what’s on my list for 2013.  Did I miss something?  That’s easy to do.  So tell me, Gentle Reader, what’s on YOUR movie list for 2013?





Monday, December 24, 2012

Tió de Nadal or the Tradition of the Poop Log

In Catalonia there is a tradition that starts on December 8th (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) and ends on Christmas Eve / Christmas where a Tió de Nadal (Christmas Log) is ‘fed’ each night until 12/24 where it is beaten with sticks and told to, “POOP LOG, POOP!”  Which it better had lest the beatings continue.  As Wikipedia states, “When nothing is left to "shit", it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or "urinates". What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.”


“Stop.  Just stop it right now, Evil Chicken.  You’re making this up.”

No.  It’s the real deal.  Here’s Wikipedia’s link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poop_log. 

“But that’s Wikipedia.  People can say anything on Wikipedia.”

Do a Google.  I’ll wait…




SEE!  I’m not making it up!  Don’t be so cynical ~ it’s Christmas.  I’m thinking of doing one next year.  I think the girls will enjoy beating the tió for goodies.  It builds character.  Besides who doesn’t like salt herring, garlic, & onions?

Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader!     




 

Santa the Barbarian!


Merry Christmas, Gentle Reader!  I can’t believe the Big Day is here.  I’ll be posting a few things that caught my Yule-tide eye; such as…

Santa the Barbarian!


The good folks from Comic Book Resources – specifically Robot 6 and their column Six X 6 came up with, Six of the Craziest Santas in Comics.  I must admit, I’m partial to Rob Liefeld’s, Santa the Barbarian.  Please enjoy this Yule-tide treat: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/12/six-by-6-six-of-the-craziest-santas-in-comics/ 

HO HO HO!

The Real Meaning of Chirstmas

Saturday, December 22, 2012

HE DID IT!


It’s 12/22/12 ~ that means he did it!  The Doctor saved the universe!



Friday, December 21, 2012

The Three Wise Monkeys


 
Gentle Reader, you learn something new every day.  Today, at the top of my list are the Three Wise Monkeys.  They have names!  Further, there is a fourth Wise Monkey that must have an awful publicist due to the simple fact that most people outside of Japan just do not know he exists! 

We’ll discuss more about that in a second.  Right now I would like to share the progression of this revelation and how it unfolded before my very eyes on 12/21/12, the end of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new cycle by their count.  You see it starts with our mutual friend, the Internet.  I was poking around over at The Dog & Pony Show http://dogandponyshowwebsite.com/awesome-links-cow-photobomb-a-flying-enterprise-model-cartoon-theme-power-hourand-candice-on-the-beach/ which had a link to OMG FACTS http://www.omg-facts.com/History/The-three-wise-monkeys-have-names/54897 which listed the monkey’s names and occupations and listed their source, Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_wise_monkeys ~ BOOM.

The Three Wise Monkeys are of Japanese origin and are sometimes called the Three Mystic Apes.  As per Wikipedia, “There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb including associations with being of good mind, speech and action. In the Western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by turning a blind eye.”  I prefer the eastern proverbial principal to our western one.  And now, without further ado here are the details of the Three Wise Monkeys…

Mizaru – covers his eyes to see no evil

Kikazaru – covers his ears to hear no evil

Iwazaru – covers his mouth to speak no evil

And, the mysterious FOURTH monkey…

Shizaru – crosses his arms to do no evil

And that’s what I learned today thanks to our mutual friend, the Internet; being good in mind, speech, and action – those Three (and sometimes FOUR) Wise Monkeys have names.  
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Man of Steel

OK, this movie can't happen soon enough for me.  BRING IT ON!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Refugees from a Magical Kingdom


 “So, the mouse got you too.” Spider-Man said to the Stormtrooper.  Spidey didn’t know if he was really a Stormtrooper or a Clonetrooper due to all the shake-ups in the Imperial Navy.  Either way he knew that their mutual futures now belonged to a place whispered to be, “The Happiest Place on Earth”.

“That is the word from on high.” The Stormtrooper said.  His voice sounded odd through the voice synthesizer in the trooper’s helmet to Spider-Man’s ears.  “So, what do we do now?” the trooper asked.


“Road trip.”

“What?”

Road trip.” Spider-Man said, “Think about it, we’ll get out, see the sights; it’ll be a hoot!”

“A ‘Hoot’?  You’re suggesting that I go AWOL from the Empire.

 
“No I’m suggesting a ‘Road trip’ and as for being part of an Empire, YOU are part of an Empire…” Spider-Man’s voice shifted slightly and the Stormtrooper couldn’t quite tell if he was pleased or melancholy.  “…WE are all part of the Empire now.”

The trooper considered this for a moment; perhaps two and asked, “A road trip, you say?”

“Yes.” Any question of melancholy was now replaced with, what the Stormtrooper detected as eagerness & wonder.  He was glad to be in his helmet since it hid the smile on his face.


“Now you’re talkin’!”

“Who knows,” the Stormtrooper said.  “Maybe I’ll finally find those droids I’ve been looking for.”

ROAD TRIP!” the unlikely pair shouted in unison.

<<< >>>
 
You too can follow the adventures of these two stalwart travelers on Pinterest right here: http://pinterest.com/theevilchicken/travels-with-spider-man-his-amazing-friends/. 

"Why?" you may ask.

Why not? 

Tune in next time!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Project Thanksgiving NJ & The Salvation Army


“May you live in interesting times.”

Gentle Reader, I humbly submit, with the economy as it is and mother nature as she’s been behaving (thank you, ‘Sandy’), these are interesting times.  It’s almost Thanksgiving and while there is much to be thankful for there are those who find these times not only interesting but also flat out hard.  Such times have ensured that some have it harder than others and that is where Project Thanksgiving & The Salvation Army step in.

Project Thanksgiving NJ is the brainchild of Alex Kaganzev and Steve Plevins.  It started about four years ago when the two wanted to help feed families working in conjunction with the Vineland chapter of the Salvation Army.  Project Thanksgiving has grown over the years to the point that it has extended beyond the Cumberland County area and into Gloucester County too.  The goal this year is to feed 1000 families with special attention paid to veterans and those returning from wars overseas.  Not a handout but a thank you.

“1000 families.  That’s a lot of people.”

Why yes, yes it is.  Especially when The Salvation Army’s shelves are stretched thin due to the immediate response to “Sandy”.  Food pantries across the state have felt the pinch so this particular blog entry is two-fold.  I am going to ask you to consider giving to TWO entities in one blog.  However, this is not as hard as it may sound. 

First, let’s talk turkey.  Project Thanksgiving’s Turkey Drive is going to be held on Saturday, November 17th at ShopRite supermarkets located in Millville, Upper Deerfield, Mullica Hill, Sewell, the TWO ShopRites in Vineland, and at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant (also in Vineland) from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  They will be collecting frozen turkeys, certificates for turkeys/hams, petty cash, or checks made payable to the Salvation Army.  The Daily Journal, the local newspaper here in the Vineland area published this article written by Stephanie Loder that does a fine job explaining the need further: http://www.thedailyjournal.com/article/20121110/NEWS01/311100058/Local-Project-Thanksgiving-puts-call-out-donations?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.  Come on out ~ you just may have a chance to meet Nigel, Project Thanksgiving’s official mascot who was created and designed by Mrs. Gloucester County NJ herself, the lovely and talented Mrs. Kathy Ramos.  I can’t guarantee that Nigel will be there but, as with a great many things, you simply never know.


Secondly, there are a lot of empty shelves at the Salvation Army office in Vineland.  Hurricane Sandy blew their contents up north to go where they were needed.  They need to be restocked.  The people from the Salvation Army are often the first line of defense when the unexpected happens. There have been a lot of unexpected things happening recently. Keep them in mind the next time you head to the supermarket and drop them off something to restock.  It’s relatively painless.  Perhaps a bag of non-perishables or two during your next shopping trip.  We are a community.  We are part of something much more than ourselves.


All donations for the Vineland Salvation Army can be dropped off at their offices at 733 E Chestnut Avenue, Vineland, NJ 08360.  If you have any questions here’s their number: 856-696-5050 ext 201.

Project Thanksgiving NJ can be found on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Thanksgiving-NJ/302695739793341?ref=ts&fref=ts.  Like them on Facebook and show ‘em some love.  Their goal is to feed a thousand families this Thanksgiving.  Together, we can help them meet that goal.  Let’s share the harvest.  The blessings we have are not ours to keep.  Give ‘em away & spread ‘em around.

Thank you & God bless, Gentle Reader.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

President Obama & Governor Christie



THIS is what makes this country great.  Not the left or the right, not the sociopathic extremes at the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum, certainly not Democrats or Republicans; no, what makes this country great is that when the need is there we stand united – united as Americans.

My respect for Governor Christie jumped leaps and bounds when he was asked if he would be doing any politicking for Mitt Romney during the devastation of Sandy.  “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. I could care less about any of that stuff… If you think right now I give a damn about president politics, then you don’t know me.”  He answered.  Here is the link to the video and that story: http://nation.foxnews.com/hurricane-sandy/2012/10/30/christie-keeps-his-priorities-straight-during-sandy-ordeal.  The bottom line, for this citizen of New Jersey, is that I am now looking at my Governor in an entirely different light than I had been seeing him before.  I just may owe him an apology. 

Thank you, Governor Christie.

Certain individuals in the media have rushed to name calling concerning Governor Christie and his priority to his state verses his priorities to his party.  With the eastern seaboard in ruin, New Jersey’s barrier islands included, it boggles my mind that certain elements of the media took the opportunity to jump from the Governor’s ship and attack him for doing his job and looking out for New Jersey.  That speaks volumes of the integrity and worthiness of some self-appointed media moguls.  Look, this is America and people are entitled to their opinion and to the freedom to say what is on their minds.  These rights are another attribute of what makes this country great; they extend to all no matter how well reasoned or twisted, good or evil, selfless or selfish these words may be to those who speak them and for those of us who have to listen.  With a healthy exchange we say our piece, we listen, and we can agree to disagree.  Some understand this discourse and others do not.  Those who don't will rant and rave into lonely microphones in padded - soundproof rooms, scream at families at Veteran's funerals, or simply go out of their way to prove that they are right and that everyone else is wrong.  I have to believe that we are better than that. 

We are about to go to the polls.  I am not going to tell you whom you should vote for.  I am; however going to warn you, Gentle Reader to be mindful of what wells you drink from before you ‘pull that handle’.  Think for yourself.  We are Americans first and members of the left or right second. 

United we stand, divided we fall. 

This Side of the Storm


  
“If a hurricane doesn't leave you dead
It will make you strong
Don't try to explain it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On” – Jimmy Buffett & Matt Betton

Buffett & Betton wrote, “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On” after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Alabama and broke the levees in New Orleans.  The lyrics are from another tragedy but they certainly still ring true.  We can’t explain such things we can only pick up and move on.  From those who have been through the storm to those who are going through it now I highly recommend this Tumblr: http://sandykatrina.tumblr.com/.  It shows people from NOLA giving messages to people sorting through life after Sandy.    

That said, I’m from the Jersey Shore.  I grew up right outside of the island of Wildwood & Cape May in a hamlet known as Green Creek, NJ.  I saw my share of storms as a child but nothing the likes of Hurricane Sandy.  I heard people talk of the “March Storm” of ’62 yet I never had anything to really compare it to until the last few days of October.  I still live in South Jersey with my brood; however, we live farther away from the shore now in the Vineland area of the state. 

The storm’s center was over our county.  We were in the eye of the storm where it was quiet and eerily calm.  While we were nestled in the eye Sandy raged against the coastline of the eastern seaboard. The video & pictures are eight shades of creepy and, as per 11/3/12, “At least 181 people have been confirmed killed across the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, and the Bahamas, as a result of the storm” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Sandy).  Property damages are being tallied at $50 billion.  50 billion.  Homes and lifetimes; places of business and worship have been swept out to sea. 

While I am thankful that we were spared Sandy’s wrath my heart breaks for those other shore dwellers whose lives have been torn asunder.  You have my love, my prayers, and my support.  The Salvation Army and The Red Cross are two organizations that are often the first line of defense against disasters such as Sandy.  I have personally seen these organizations go to work in people’s lives after the storm has passed.  There are many storms in life.  I know for a fact; however, that these two organizations do good work. 

If you feel led to donate here is where you can do so:

The Salvation Army:


If you can’t give monetarily you may be able to give some of your time.  Volunteers will be needed.  There will be much to clean up at the Jersey Shore and in New York’s southern boroughs.  From what I can gather, Staten Island really took a hit.  The words, “war zone” have been used to describe the damage there.  Do what you can, where you can.

Thank you and God bless.

“According to my watch the time is now
The past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

VOTE




November 6th is looming and I, for one, Can’t Wait for November 7th.  I am entirely too tired of hearing from the various orientations from the political spectrum because no matter how you vote come November 7th, nothing is going to change.  Oh sure affairs of state will lumber in one direction or another but, at its core, nothing is going to change.  America is built that way.  Fortunately.  After Election Day one party does not execute the other party [insert your one-liner here].  There are places in the world where this happens and words like, “Democracy” & “Freedom” are simply words used by despots to placate the masses.  Not here, of course [insert your one-liner here].  Here in the United States of America we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again and we move forward.   

This election cycle has been complicated through our ability to use the tools that this age of Social Media has brought us. This particular election season has been a bit ugly and not necessarily between the two men running for the seat of the President of the United States.  No, I’m talking about us – the We The People, we, the Poor Huddled Masses Yearning to be Free, those of us on Facebook, Twitter, and any other form of social media.  We have been vicious.  We have screamed for blood.  We have gone to great lengths to display our pride & our fears.  We have alienated legions of people we rub shoulders with when we are not sitting at our computers via Social Media by showing not just who we are voting for but, more to the point, what lengths we will go to prove that ‘I’m right and You’re wrong”.  By doing so we forget the importance of November 7th.  The day when we become more than the screaming extremes of a two party dominated system – the day that we begin to remember that we are Americans.        
         
I am not going to tell you who to vote for but I am going to say, VOTE.  Not because it’s your “civic duty” but for the simple reason I believe you don’t have a right to complain about the political process if you refuse to participate in it.  So VOTE.  Don’t just sit back and do nothing ~ VOTE

I am not endorsing anyone here.  Unfortunately, we only get the chance to hear from two voices instead of the “big six” who are running.  There is Barack Obama (our incumbent President – Democratic Party), Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party), Virgil Good (Constitution Party), Rocky Anderson (Justice Party), and Mitt Romney (Republican).  We hear an awful lot from those with the biggest PACs (Political Action Committees) who have the authorization to spend millions upon millions of dollars to sway elections from sea to shining sea but we don’t really hear from the other people running.  Do a Google search on the other Parties and their candidates just for fun before you VOTE.  Who knows, you may find someone who fits you better with your ideas than the big boys with the deep pockets.  That’s for you to decide. 

So come November 6th, VOTE.  Do your part and hope that the Electoral College swings the same way you do.  But on November 7th, remember that we are Americans first and political parties a far distant second.

Hold Fast, it’s almost over.





Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Bacon Number



I assume you are aware, Gentle Reader, of the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”?  It is a ‘shortest path’ algorithm as to how far an actor or actress is removed from Kevin Bacon.  This is the actor’s / actress’s Bacon Number. 

“Huh?”

It’s not as bad as it sounds, save that you have a love for movies.  Take an actor – for our discussion let’s say, Robert Downey Jr.  Now we have to connect him to Kevin Bacon.  It goes something like this…

Robert Downey Jr. and Clark Gregg appeared in The Avengers.
Clark Gregg and Kevin Bacon appeared in The Air I Breathe.
So, we can extrapolate that Mr. Robert Downey Jr.'s Bacon Number is 2

I would love to tell you that I pulled that out of my hat.  I did not.  While I am a huge fan of the movies, I would have to really take my time and think it through.  “Animal House” is a huge blessing since so many actors were in that with Kevin Bacon and so with that film alone you can make hundreds of connections.  Still, it is, at times, no easy feat. 

Enter Google!

Google has now added to their search engine the Bacon Number.  All you have to do is type in the actor’s / actress’s name and the words Bacon Number and voila!  And now you to, with the help of Google, can whip out the Bacon Numbers with aplomb and succinctness! 

What did we do before the internet? 

Mr. Bacon has built a charity around the game and it from his SixDegrees.org website that I took the picture for this humble blog.  You can find it here: http://www.sixdegrees.org/kevinbacongameforgood.

No, really; what did we do before the internet?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The NJ HORRORFEST is Creeping to Vineland



Ron DiPrimio is a friend of mine.  He also happens to be the brains behind “Little Red Wagon Films”.  He loves horror movies.  As it turns out he loves them so much that he has organized something that I hope becomes an annual event here in Vineland – the NJ HORRORFEST.  It’s a great venue for independent filmmakers and horror fans.  It is going to happen at the historic Landis Theater in Vineland.

Michelle Brunetti Post from the Atlantic City Press featured Ron in her article, “Everyone Has a Story: Vineland Filmmaker Offers NJ Horrorfest at Landis Theater.  You can read all about it right here: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/blogs/michelle_post/everyone-has-a-story-vineland-filmmaker-offers-nj-horrorfest-at/article_beeb0f58-04fb-11e2-9aba-0019bb2963f4.html

“So what is a Horror Fest?”

As always, Gentle Reader, that is an excellent question.  The NJ HORRORFEST is an independent horror film festival that is happening at the Landis Theater, in Vineland, NJ on October 13th.  There will be 11 straight hours of independent horror films and all for the fee of just 13 bucks.  That’s a lot of creep for your cash.  Tickets are on sale now and a portion of the ticket price will be going to the charity, ‘Scares That Care’ for sick children, burn victims, and for breast cancer.  That’s a win – win all the way around the Horn.

As per the website, “The NJ HORRORFEST will be held Saturday October 13th.  Doors open at 10am and the movies begin at 11 am.  The festival will last until the last film ends.  Then there will be an after party to follow where we will announce the winners for Best Short, Best Feature, and Best Director.”   

You can get your tickets here: http://www.njhorrorfest.com/tickets.html

You can Like the NJ HORRORFEST here on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/263535170418095/

This has legs.  I believe that Ron has grasped onto lightning here and I sincerely hope that this is the first in a long line of Horrorfests at the Landis Theater.  It’s good for independent filmmaking, the Vineland area at large, and for all the people who will benefit from ‘Scares That Care’.  I’m looking forward to the frights that I’m going to find at the Landis Theater on October 13.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire



My family, the EC-5 (Evil Chicken 5), traveled 110 miles to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire this past weekend.  Let me simply say, if you have not made the time to go to the PA Ren Faire then make the time and go.  It is ‘Participatory Theater’ at it’s best.  The entire troop delivered on the whole, “the show must go on” ethos and were true professionals in the torrential rains that poured down on the just and the unjust during our visit.

As the Mount Hope Estate & Winery’s web site (http://www.parenfaire.com/) says concerning the Ren Faire, “…A cast of hundreds of colorfully costumed characters fill the Shire with music, dancing, and more! With over 90 stage shows daily, 22 Royal Kitchens and scores of artisan merchants with handcrafted wares, the Renaissance Faire invites guests to immerse themselves in our 35-acre village and experience the fantasy!”   

Wear comfortable shoes for your journey to the Shire.  If it rains a poncho is not a bad accessory either.  We beheld sword fights, ate Scotch eggs, shot arrows, threw axes, watched brawls at the Boarshead Inn, saw Lord Chamberlain's Men perform scenes from Henry the V as Shakespeare himself took a bow and heard shouts of “God Save the Queen!” as her majesty herself was escorted across the grounds by her entourage and armed guards.  The story is episodic in nature and you have to be at a certain place at a certain time to grasp the scope of what the troop is doing.  If you want to see things from soup to nuts understand that you have a full day of activity ahead of you. 

It is time well spent.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Stainless Steel Rat Sheds a Tear



Harry Harrison, one of the founders of Steampunk, the creator of “Make Room! Make Room!” the basis for the film “Soylent Green”, and creator of a character that I have loved for years James Bolivar DiGriz “The Stainless Steel Rat”, passed away today at the age of 87.

Here is an obituary from Christopher Priest from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/15/harry-harrison

Here is what the BBC had to say about Mr. Harrison’s passing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-19270109

Here is what Neil Gaiman wrote about Mr. Harrison: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2012/08/harry-harrison.html

As a young man I discovered a wonderful anti-hero just when I truly needed to discover a wonderful anti-hero.  Thank you for Slippery Jim, Mr. Harrison.  Thank you for, The Stainless Steel Rat. 

Godspeed.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mars-One



A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook from FOX News, entitled, “Mars-One Plans Suicide Mission to Red Planet for 2023”.  The headline is a bit deceiving since there is a difference between planetary expatriation and 'suicide'.  Death is an eventuality whether you are exploring Mars on a one-way voyage or just sitting at home here on earth watching FOX News.  The article had a link to the Mars-One website which can be found right here: http://mars-one.com/en/.  I encourage you to check it out for yourself, to click around, and to consider the possibilities.  It turns out, “Mars-One” is a Dutch project to actually go to Barsoom (shout out to you John Carter fans) and establish the first station on another world.  “Fantastic”, you say?  The fact of the matter is, right now, with the use of existing technologies humanity could reach the planet Mars in 11 years. 

That’s big. 

Earth shaking big. 

To paraphrase Norbert Kraft, “History is what happens when the impossible is made possible.”  I have said it several times on the pages of this electric soapbox of a blog of mine; there is no such thing as science fiction.   

The obstacles that immediately come to mind are, “who goes?” & “how do you pay for it?”  Mars-One has come up with some unique strategies.  If one considers the seven month voyage it will take to get to Mars, the mind-bending isolation, the crushing claustrophobia that the first few generations settlers would have to endure, the harsh environment of an unknown world that has 40% the gravity of Earth and the fact that there is, at this stage in the game, no possibility of a return trip to the planet of your birth it becomes quite obvious that the selection process for the astronaut settlers will have to be rigorous with extra care taken concerning their psychological condition.  They will have a pool of 40 screened and trained people to choose from for the first generation of settlers.  I assume that the process would be the same for the next generation of settlers who would arrive two years later.

So how does one fund a trip to the fourth planet of our solar system?  Mars-One has come up with a unique way of making this happen.  Everything will be displayed for the world to behold via making it a global “reality TV” event.  Yes, the revolution will be televised.  By doing so Mars-One grantees two things that give me hope for success of this ambitious project; first, no tax dollars will be spent and second no politics.  Mars does not care where you come from or what your political ideology may be.  This is the liberation that free enterprise and brilliant minds brings to the table.  We have seen this evolve even before the Space Shuttle program was deemed too expensive to continue.  The X-Prize’s Space Ship One, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX, all examples of how the future will be shaped by free enterprise and brilliant minds.  One does not simply look to governmental structure for technological progress – you look to a freethinking populous for that.  Thank God for free enterprise and brilliant minds. 

You may have more questions than this humble blog can provide so here is the Mars-One FAQ page: http://mars-one.com/en/faq-en.  The only way any progression forward happens is when people take risks.  No doubt this is risky business but it also means that mankind, in my lifetime (he said selfishly) may have an established colony on Mars.

That’s big.

Earth shaking big.

I have but one modest request for their program; when the time comes to name the first town established on Mars please consider the name, “Bradbury”. 

It has a nice ring to it.