Wednesday, June 29, 2005

He not busy being born
is a-busy dying ... for some
Colombia Nariño Supremo!

The Grande, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

Is anyone else as torn as I am over Bob Dylan's decision to release his latest album of 40-year-old recordings exclusively through Starbucks for 18 months? I mean, I'd like to get it so I too can sigh wistfully about the days before he sounded like Alvin the Chipmunk's drunken uncle, but on the other hand, I usually only go into Starbucks if I'm, say, bleeding from my carotid artery and need someone to call an ambulance, and even then only if I can't find a Dunkin' Donuts.

The main reason I avoid Starbucks is the cost of the coffee, which tends to defy my weekly beverage budget of whatever change I can separate from the sticky film at the bottom of my car's cupholder. But I know I don't have to also mention the weird sizes ("Venti," "Vidi" and "Vicci"), the inexorable process of making the coffee that seems to mirror scientists' efforts at cold fusion, and the fact that its employees have been dubbed with the improbably highbrow moniker "barristas," when in actually they're just people who can't work in Wal-Mart for fear of getting wedgies from the guys in the garden department.

I guess I'll have to just suck it up and go in, for Bob's sake. But I'm just buying the CD. If I try to walk out of there with a Grande Arabian Mocha Sanani, please, somebody stop me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Also cut was the part
where Al Roker hip-checked
him off his stool

What do you know about being in boxes, Matt?
I've been in boxes, OK? Have you ever been in a box, Matt?

Tom Cruise quotes edited out of the Matt Lauer interview:
  • "I know anthropology, Matt. I've been on digs, OK? Have you ever dug anything up, Matt?"
  • "Please, Matt, Don't try to tell me about bocce. I know bocce, OK? I played in high school, Matt, I didn't just sit around talking about it. Did you ever play bocce, Matt? Or do you just talk about it on TV?"
  • "Don't talk to me about 'Desperate Housewives,' Matt. Have you ever even watched the show? Because I've watched the show, Matt. And for you to insinuate that Bree is a sympathetic character ... You're very glib, Matt. Very, very glib. And facile. Glib and facile. Matt."
  • "Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt. Do you even know what's in Twinkies, Matt? Have you ever done a chemical analysis of that cream filling? Because that's what I did. I rented a lab in New Jersey and tested that cream filling myself. Until you've tested that cream filling Matt, I don't think it's responsible for you to be on the Today show talking about Twinkies."
  • "Now I'd like to jump up and down and sing a little love song about Katie. No, Matt. My Katie, not your trampy co-host. Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt."

Matt Lauer quote left out of the interview:

  • Why don't you go &%$@!, you spoiled &%$@! rich &%$@!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This week's column: Penn's
professional prospects plentiful

HOLLYWOOD (AP) - A spokesman for Sean Penn announced this week that the actor has narrowed down his next fake career to two options: astronaut and fireman.

The Oscar winner and political activist is currently covering the Iranian elections as a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, but has said he feels that when his stint as a fake journalist comes to a close, he'd like to be ready with the next fake career that he can use his celebrity to weasel his way into.

The announcement comes on the heels of widespread criticism over his Chronicle assignment, primarily from newspaper journalists, who are "plagued by gnawing feelings of inadequacy as it is," said Roberta Peller, spokeswoman for the National Association of Newspaper Writers.

To read the rest of this week's At Large by Peter Chianca, click here.
For the original post this column springs from, click here.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Instead, they recommended
he just inject steroids directly
into his cranium

Well, it was bound to happen: South Korea's baseball authorities have banned a star pitcher from wearing frozen cabbage leaves in his cap to keep cool during games. This could be a crushing blow to the cabbage industry, which was already reeling from corn beef's announcement that it was pursuing a solo career.

"Since it has become a controversy, we decided to set a limit on the boundaries of foreign substances," said a Korean Baseball Association spokesman. With that in mind, other items banned from the pitcher's mound included:
  • Frozen spinach;
  • Frozen lettuce;
  • Frozen radicchio;
  • Frozen pizza (French bread or standard crust);
  • That huge pork roast that you bought because it was on sale but that, let's face it, you're never going to cook;
  • Fudgsicles, popsicles, other miscellaneous sicles;
  • Anything that's been left in the freezer so long it's developed a fuzzy, frozen skin;
  • Gwyneth Paltrow.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Word has it that millions
of ants are currently making
their way there from Jersey

The streets were sticky that night, my friends.

OK, so Snapple was left with kiwi-strawberry on its face when its attempts to erect the world's largest ice pop fell victim to hot temps, resulting in 35,000 pounds of Snapple slush stickifying the streets of New York City. While admittedly that's enough Snapple to feed starving villages in Africa for weeks (and I have it on good authority that small African children spend many a night staring into the night sky, hoping against hope for a Snapple drop), it could have been worse.

Yes, it could have been molasses, which any resident of Boston knows can be deadly, in addition to being chock full of sticky goodness. I refer of course to the Boston Molasses Disaster (also known as the Great Molasses Flood), which occurred on Jan. 15, 1919 in the North End of Boston. A large molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses ran through the streets, killing 21 and injuring 150 others. As one local commentator said at the time, "Oh, the horror! The ho... Mmm, is that cinnamon?"

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, the event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that the area still sometimes smells of molasses. Although I've been to the North End, and mostly it just smells like old vegetables.
(Thanks to Lori.)

And yet it can still be
taken out by a well-placed BB

Up, up and away, in my beautiful,
and yet &%$@!-ed up, balloon.

This week's Invention of the Week award goes to something that scientists and inventors have been trying to perfect for centuries: The upside-down hot-air balloon. This would presumably come in especially handy in places where gravity works backwards.

According to Cameron Balloons spokeswoman Hannah Cameron, developing the upside-down balloon was "a tall order." For instance, she says, "the basket at the top is fake, and there is a real basket underneath, which is hidden by a special skirt that can be lifted as the pilot comes in to land." This solves the main problem that had stymied previous upside-down hot-air balloons, namely the pilot falling to his death or getting trapped inside the balloon and asphyxiating, which happened to more than a dozen volunteers during the rush to perfect an upside-down hot-air balloon during World War I.

Well, we're glad it has finally come to pass, unlike its ill-fated cousin, the upside-down hot-air assisted living facility.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Plus basically anything
anybody said in 'Red Dawn'

Lines inexplicably missing from AFI's list of top 100 movie quotes:
  • "I want my two dollars."
  • "Demented and sad, but social."
  • "It's the end of the month, they're out of toilet seat covers!"
  • "I can't believe my grandmother actually felt me up."
  • "Number 5 is alive!"

Hmmm ... Do you suppose it's possible I spent a little too much time at the movies during the '80s?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Prints are available for $49.95

'Man's Inhumanity to Man,' by Peter Chianca

This image, which I captured during a grueling 12-hour shoot earlier today, is meant as a statement on society, the cruelty of humankind and the prevailing "culture of death." The reds are meant to symbolize the blood of inoccents, while the leafy green stalks represent a once-buoyant environment now choked by the colander of intolerance.

OK, you got me. It's a picture of a bunch of strawberries I took 10 minutes ago to make sure my camera still worked after my son whipped it across the kitchen like a Nerf ball. But don't they look juicy?

This'll teach people who think
Nevada is all gambling and hookers

Go, Nevada librarians!

Like Irish Spring, except Italian

Well, this is disgusting.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

This week's column:
Get hip to tips for clueless dads

Well, this was the year! With my kids now 6 and almost 4, I finally figured out the secret to this fatherhood thing, and this is it:

Um ... OK, I'm lying.

But I have picked up a few things, and judging by the intense, almost Guantánamo-style grilling I keep getting from fathers-to-be, I know there is a dearth of information out there. So I share the following, in the hopes that our kids won't look back someday and say, "Who was that guy who kept tripping over Mom?"

For the rest of this week's At Large by Peter Chianca, click here.

For previous Tips for Clueless Fathers, click here.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Take my crap ... please!

I've spent all night preparing for a yard sale, which I can't help but think of as an elaborate, underhanded plot to get strangers to pay for the privilege of taking away my crap. If this actually works I may have to try that Ponzi scheme I've been thinking about.

Of course, while my wife would like to sell anything we haven't actively used in the last 40 minutes, I can't seem to break the sentimental attachment I have to certain very significant objects from my past. Which is my Elton John "Reg Strikes Back" concert T-shirt, my framed "Naked Gun" movie poster and my complete yellowed collection of Marvel Team-Up comic books from 1979-1983 have been moved to an undisclosed location for the duration of the sale.

Anyway, if anyone has any crap-selling suggestions they'd like to share, I'm all ears. But don't say put the stuff up on eBay. I'd have to take all the stuff to the post office, which flies directly in the face of my efforts to have it all leave my house of its own accord, preferably while I'm sleeping.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Penn: Next fake job
may be as fake fireman

Sean Penn is eagerly looking forward
to his next fake career choice.

HOLLYWOOD (AP) -- Actor Sean Penn announced this week that he has narrowed down his next fake career to two options: astronaut and fireman.

The Oscar winner and political activist is currently covering the Iranian elections as a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, but has said he feels that when his stint as a fake journalist comes to a close, he'd like to be ready with the next fake career that he can use his celebrity to weasel his way into.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed pretending to be a reporter and working side-by-side the actual reporters, all of whom are consummate professionals, in that they actually do this for a living, not just for fake," said Penn. "But next time around I thought being an astronaut and wearing that cool space suit or a fireman and sliding down the pole would be pretty awesome."

For future fake careers, Penn has mentioned doctor, policeman, professional wrestler, rock star and the guy who feeds the seals at the aquarium. "I hope my ideas for what fake jobs to do are ever changing," said Penn.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

So that means it's a death ray, right?

Boxy is the new sexy.

This week's Invention of the Week award goes to Coherent, which has come up with what we've all been waiting for: a 20 W ultraviolet laser that can dice wafers and scribe large-area solar cells. The AVIA 355 nm source operates at pulse repetition rates as high as 150 kHz and gives a beam quality of less than M2 1.3.

OK, I'll admit I have no idea what any of that means. I just wanted you to think I was smart.

Here's a better suggestion: The onion you can eat like an apple. Now, that's an invention I can understand. Mmmm .... Onions ....

Monday, June 13, 2005

If you listen, you can hear the steam
coming out of Nancy Grace's nostrils

You know what this other little finger could use?
A Band-Aid! Jeeves, bring one immediately!

Things we can safely say Michael Jackson is guilty of:
  • Popularizing the red leather jumpsuit.
  • Declaring himself "King of Pop," which, let's face it, was fairly presumptuous.
  • Making J.M. Barrie roll over in his grave.
  • Calling Tommy Mottola "devilish" -- this, about the man who discovered Mariah Carey!
  • Baby dangling.
  • "Captain Eo," which, granted, was not nearly as egregious as "Living with the Land." What a yawner!
  • Holding his own nose hostage for more than 18 years.
  • Prompting millions of unprepared white people to try to moonwalk, leading to advanced ankle strain.
  • Poor, poor Bubbles.
  • "Say, Say, Say." Enough said.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This week's column:
Going from ad to worse

Maybe it's me, but I've never thought of my kids as what you'd call "useful." Sure, they bring joy and happiness and all that, but they don't really contribute to the well-being of the household like, say, a RotoTiller or a Roth IRA.

I realize when they're older we can assign them certain mundane tasks like mowing the lawn, but they'll probably do that about as well as I did in my youth, when I was known to mow in a circle for 45 minutes in an attempt to run over a garden slug that turned out to be a pretzel. I suppose anything's better than now, though: All this "Feed me! Clothe me!" stuff gets old pretty fast.

That's why I have to hand it to Michele Hutchison, a 26-year-old expectant mother in Philadelphia who apparently is seeking bids on eBay to put advertising on her new baby. This is bound to be far more attractive to corporations than sneaking up on babies and stamping logos on their foreheads, which is still awaiting sign-off from legal.

Read the rest of this week's At Large by Peter Chianca here.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Get some exercise! Unlike
their chickens, which are in
pens the size of a Filet o' Fish box

Look, Susie! I can still kick the ball, despite having
just ingested the equivalent of 12 pounds of lard!

In the good news-bad news department: The good news is that, according to a press release from McDonald's corporate headquarters, "Ronald McDonald is expanding his role as a global ambassador of fun, fitness and children's well-being. McDonald's® Chief Happiness Officer™ Ronald® is inspiring and encouraging kids and families around the world to eat well and stay active, or as he likes to say, 'it's what i eat and what i do™ ... i'm lovin' it.™'" The bad news is, McDonald's is still turning our nation's children into bloated freaks who sweat grease from every pore. So it's kind of a toss-up.

I'll admit that on the one hand, I have very fond memories of McDonald’s from my youth, when I could eat an entire Quarter Pounder in three minutes in a moving car and be left with nothing more than a satisfied, meaty feeling. But that memory stands in direct contrast to what happened a few weeks ago, when I ate a handful of fries and almost immediately felt like someone had shellacked the inside of my cheeks with Crisco.

I keep going there, however, because I have kids, and McDonald’s has the Happy Meal. This is the meal that comes with a little plastic toy — even the finest restaurants don’t give you one of those.

Anyway, when you see the new commercials featuring Ronald "playing basketball with NBA superstar Yao Ming," I hope it encourages you to go out and do something healthy. Like hand a whupping to a freakish man-clown.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Also, babyfaced people look
especially bad sticking out of tanks

I have to admit I'm a little skeptical about the new Princeton University study that says candidates with "baby faces" are less likely to win than those with more mature or rugged looks. I say this because we all know what happened to John Kerry, and he looked like a hot dog that had been left too long under a heat lamp. On the other hand, have you looked at a picture of John McCain lately?

I rest my case.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Because TV somehow seems
less crappy if it's tremendous

Yes, we know it costs more than a Honda Civic.
But look at the size of those tulips!

This week's Invention of the Week award goes to the dedicated researchers at Samsung, who have worked tirelessly to come up with the 82-inch LCD TV. Finally, the people who've been forced to try to get by with 62- and 72-inch TVs will see some relief.

We're sure there were many times when the Samsung scientists thought about giving up. "It will never work! It's just ... too ... big!," they would cry, in Japanese. But fortunately, the thought of some poor child in Chappaqua, N.Y. crying himself to sleep every night because SpongeBob wasn't the size of a refrigerator gave them the will to carry on.

No pricing has been announced for the new TV, but we can presume it will be approximately one meeeeeeeellion dollars.

On the plus side, the third guy didn't get much

According to police statistics, in Germany, a person is mugged every 10 minutes. Apparently, this is that person.

Monday, June 06, 2005

We can only imagine
what he threw at the bellhop

Wait a minute, those cops are corrupt!
Didn't you see "L.A. Confidential"?

All I have to say is, what is the world coming to when a millionaire Oscar-winning movie star can't throw a phone at a concierge without being arrested? I mean, isn't that what you become a millionaire Oscar-winning movie star for in the first place -- to throw telephones at concierges?

In fact, I'd argue that the concierge in this case should be drummed out of the International Society of Concierges for making such a fuss. After all, any concierge will tell you that's among the first things they teach you in concierge school: Be courteous, always have directions to local landmarks on hand, and smile graciously through whatever teeth you have left after millionaire Oscar-winning movie stars throw telephones at you. To do any less and still call yourself a concierge would be, well, non-concierge-like.

OK, OK, I admit it. I just like saying "concierge."

The entire viewing audience is chipping in
$5 each to get two tickets to 'Spamalot'

Frasier's brother definitely gets the Best Hair award.

The overnight ratings are in on the Tonys. Apparently, this year even Liza Minelli was watching "Dateline."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

This week's column: Things
I picked up in kindergarten

I've been spending a lot of time with kindergartners lately. I've found they make excellent company. For one thing, they almost never talk about politics.

First there was my daughter's birthday party last month, where girls who had been together in school approximately 45 minutes earlier emitted high-pitched squeals and jumped up and down upon seeing each other, like they'd just been told that their prize behind Door No. 3 consisted of a lifetime supply of pink plastic barrettes. (This stands in marked contrast to boys, who tend to dispense with greetings and immediately start wrestling over who gets to play with the biggest truck.)

Then the next day, I volunteered in her kindergarten class, which was no country club: I spent most of the day cutting out pink construction paper pig ears, which unfortunately gave me flashbacks to the first grade when Mrs. Brown chewed me out for cutting my pumpkin's construction-paper arms too short. I realize now I should have pointed out that pumpkins aren't technically even supposed to have arms, but being 7 it was basically all I could do to keep from peeing.

Read the rest of this week's At Large by Peter Chianca here.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll
feel a little tight in the crotch

Product placement? What product placement?

Uh-0h. Better brace for the sequels:

  • The League of Extraordinary Pants
  • The Legend of Sleepy Pants
  • Journey to the Center of the Pants
  • The Private Files of J. Edgar Pants
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Pants
  • The Passion of the Pants
  • The Bridges of Madison Pants
  • The House of Blue Pants
  • The Pirates of Pants
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Pants

Thursday, June 02, 2005

He shouldn't have had the chili

Further proof that you should never use a portable toilet.

Or you can always fall back on
the old standby, feigning death

Maybe it's me, but I find the concept of setting your own home on fire in order to get guests to leave to be not only rational, but bordering on brilliant. It beats the plan I often contemplate to get unwanted visitors out of my office, which is whipping my complimentary Rotary Club mug at their foreheads. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm fairly confident it would do the trick.

Where 46-year-old Dean Craig of Geneva, Ill. went wrong, in my opinion, is advising his guests in advance that he would set the house on fire if they didn't leave. (This probably elicited a response to the effect of, "Oh Dean, there you go, threatening to set something on fire again! Mind if we make some long-distance calls?") Instead, he should have excused himself to get more drinks, then ignited the kitchen while they weren't looking.

OK, you got me -- I stole that idea from Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Caution: May cause drowsiness.
Plus make you look like an idiot.

If they'd set Anakin up in one of these babies,
everything might have worked out differently.

This week's Invention of the Week award goes to the Dreamhelmet, a "sleep mask sound-blocking pillow" that also aids weight loss. And not, as you might presume, because it has a metal screen that comes down over your mouth like Hannibal Lecter's.

No, according to a press release from Dreamcloud Productions, a recent study shows that the more you sleep, the less hungry your body thinks it is. Also, if you're anything like me, sleep is the only time of day you're not distracted by the idea that there might be a Twinkie somewhere. Anywhere.

After all, as Dreamhelmet creator Jim de Cordova told the writers of the press release (presumably between naps and his nightly 14-hour slumber-fest), our weight problems are a function of our "frantic and noisy society." Said De Cordova, "Just see a film from the 1960s; everybody had long hair and was slim!" Of course, that could have something to do with having taken so many drugs most people thought that their hamburgers were trying to kill them.

Anyway, the Dreamhelmet is billed as being a useful sleep and diet aid in "Planes, Trains, Cars, Buses, Airports, Campgrounds, Hotels, the Office and your own Bed," although that last place is probably the only one where you won't get very odd stares and/or arrested.