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: 

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:  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:  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: 

“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: 


The Real Meaning of Chirstmas

Saturday, December 22, 2012


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 which had a link to OMG FACTS which listed the monkey’s names and occupations and listed their source, Wikipedia ~ 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!