Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'll never look at a can of
Contadina the same way again

Ah, those wacky Spaniards. When they're not being voluntarily trampled by bulls, they're apparently pelting each other with 130 tons of ripe tomatoes. Next I expect to see them taking turns jumping off the Puerta de Alcalá into vats of flan.

Apparently the tomato fight tradition, which involves thousands of people in Madrid hurling truckloads of tomatoes at each other every August, began back in the 1940s. It seems like an odd time to start such a tradition, but who knows? Maybe they were preparing to throw fruit at the Nazis when they marched in from France. If there's one thing Hitler hated, it was a tough stain.

Anyway, while I'm sure being covered in tomato goo must break up the summertime blahs, I have to say I'm against it. It's a waste of good tomatoes that could otherwise be used more productively, for instance, as projectiles at a Clay Aiken concert. (But not until after "Bridge Over Troubled Water" ... That always chokes me up.)

And now for something
completely different ...

We interrupt this blog's daily ridicule of life's little absurdities for the following important (and, actually, serious) message: You can help the victims of this week's hurricane. Please visit the American Red Cross and give what you can.

We now return to the hilarity already in progress.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

There's no place like
Grand Rapids, Minn.


Hey you! In the red shoes! Hold it right there!

Just when it seemed the criminal element couldn't get any lower, police report that someone has broken into the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. and stolen Dorothy's ruby slippers. Yes, I know what you're thinking: There's a Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn.?

Grand Rapids was apparently Garland's hometown, and the famous shoes were on a 10-week visit to her namesake museum there when they were swiped. Unfortunately, "There's not a whole lot of evidence," according to police chief Leigh Serfling. "We're hoping that someone in the community has seen something." For instance, residents are asked to be on the lookout for them sticking out from under a house.

All I know is, that thief better lay low -- I suspect Judy Garland's fans are mobilizing and may even go searching for the ruby slippers themselves. And if the slippers don't turn up, they may go searching for a nice new pair of Tsubo Yocto sneakers along with black fitted jeans, a matching silk T-shirt and a charcoal summer-weight gabardine blazer. Fabulous!

Monday, August 29, 2005

If you're very quiet, you may
be able to hear them bickering


Memo to guy on left: Cut down on the nuts and berries, pal.

Hey, where was I when they posted this ad? It seems the London Zoo, following an exhaustive Internet search for volunteers, has opened an exhibit called "Human Zoo," which is meant to show the "basic nature of human beings." And apparently our basic nature is to sit around all day in our underwear. To think, all this time I thought that was just the men part of the human beings.

Yes, the exhibit features scantily clad people sitting around in their natural habitat: a bunch of rocks. This is a good start, but it seems to me it would have made more sense to place them in cubicles and in front of Xerox machines. Ten to one they would be willing to do little tricks for coffee and crullers.

Anyway, some might say this is demeaning, but I say, it will make us all the more prepared when the aliens come to gather us up for display on their freakish homeworlds. Or eat us.

(Thanks to Digital Doorway.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

This week's column:
This 'Battle' may make you cry

You may have heard about the disgruntled Star Wars fans who've asserted that George Lucas did to their childhoods what the "Law & Order" writers do to the victims on "Special Victims Unit." (I'm paraphrasing.) Personally I think that's a little harsh -- even if the new movies stink, without them we'd never know what Yoda looked like kicking butt with his light saber, except in our own little fantasies. Not me, other people.

So I didn't truly know what they meant until I happened to see an ad last week for (brace yourself): "Battle of the Network Reality Stars." After I returned my jaw to its upright position, I could only think: Does Hal Linden know about this?

Because for people of a certain age, the whole idea is sacrilegious. Nothing could possibly reproduce the grandeur of the combat that took place among the "Big 3" networks in those heady pre-cable days. (Of course, any thinking "Battle" fan rooted for ABC, since it had "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley," and it didn't have "M*A*S*H" - boooooring! Especially when you're 8.)

To read the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Well, here's the problem
-- this says hair spray!

In Alaska this week, a man apparently owes his life to his faithful Brittany spaniel, who helped him fend off an attacking grizzly bear. I love my dogs, but I can't help but wonder if they'd actually fight a bear for me. What do you think?

(Personally, I suspect my golden retriever would be of the most assistance if the bear tripped over her while she was sleeping, and as for my black lab puppy, maybe she could chew the bear to death. It works with Barbie dolls.)

Still, I know they'd do their best, just like the dog in Alaska. Although the owner is apparently not taking any chances: According to the AP, "Paterna said he plans to carry a larger can of bear spray in the future." I've never heard of bear spray, but of course, I live in Massachusetts -- I bet in Alaska they carry it in the 7-Elevens, right next to the Moose-Be-Gone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm sure he'll put the award up on his
mantel, right next to his '80s headband


You think Norah Jones has a tush like that? Please.

As a longtime Springsteen fan, I've been harboring what you might call a deep resentment that Bruce was denied his Album of the Year grammy. And not just for "The Rising" in 2003 -- I'm still smarting over the stunning 1985 loss to Lionel Richie. ("Hello, is it cheesy fake R&B pop songs you're looking for ..." No, I'm not bitter.)

So, taking whatever consolation I can, I'm happy to report that SPIN magazine has apparently honored Springsteen by choosing his butt as one of the 25 "most incredible" rock star body parts. I didn't see any of Lionel Richie's or Norah Jone's body parts on that list, and believe me, I looked. And so what if the judges were probably basing their opinion on Springsteen's '80s butt? I'm sure his current butt is doing just fine, thank you.

Unfortunately Springsteen's butt didn't top the list; that honor went to Madonna's navel, which, according to SPIN writer Marc Spitz, is "what first marked her as a mainstream provocateur." And yet when I gyrate my navel in public, I'm threatened with incarceration. Life is unfair.

Anyway, congratulations to Bruce. Even though I can't say his butt has bettered my life in any particular way, I'd still rather have it honored than some lesser artist's butt. Meanwhile, if he doesn't win a Grammy for "Devils & Dust," I'm going to Norah Jones' house and gyrate my navel at her stupid piano.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thus severely straining the
definition of the word 'bravo'

This Wednesday you'll be able to tune into the new "Battle of the Network Reality Stars," in which fake celebrities desecrate another of my fond childhood memories. (Just like that darn Johnny Knoxville.) But what's surprising to me is that this sham of a show is on Bravo. Didn't they used to have classier programming? I mean besides the "Colombo" reruns.

Now they run the likes of “Being Bobby Brown,” which I’ve watched several times and which, as far as I can tell, is about the Houston-Brown family going out to dinner. OK, that’s not all it’s about. Whitney also wears funny hats.

If someone can explain to me what's going on in that family, and also why I'm strangely drawn to their off-kilter antics, please do. Meanwhile, I have one question: Dionne Warwick, why didn’t you warn Whitney? Some psychic friend you are.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Unfortunately, that date
stamp hurts like the dickens


Shhhhh! You might wake our Muslim!

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time. It seems libraries have started lending out people. Thankfully for humanity, it seems this library, which is in Holland (motto: "Wackier than Belgium") is not lending people out for odd jobs or activities I can't mention without setting off the adult content filters. Rather, it's doing it to challenge stereotypes. That was my next guess.

According to Ananova.com, "People can borrow gay people, gypsies and Muslims for an hour and talk to them about their lives." Says the director, "Clients can lend out a Muslim woman in a head scarf and ask her the questions they wouldn't dare to if they met on the street." Presumably questions like, "Is that your protective dust cover?"

I jest, but I think this type of program is important and has vast potential, even outside Holland's borders. For instance, here in America I hear they're considering the same concept with Hooters waitresses.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

This week's column:
Putting his bare foot forward

You may have read my column a few weeks ago in which I declared I had never worn flip-flop sandals. By “you” I mean the handful of people who read this column who are not my mother or a frustrated copy editor who’d rather be working on his novel.

Anyway, that column garnered a sizable response from readers concerned that my aversion to flip-flops was some sort of cry for help. In fact, the column hadn’t been in print for more than 20 minutes when I got an e-mail from someone named Barefoot Ted, who offered the following piece of advice: “Dude, take off your shoes and learn to live a little.”

It’s a simple statement, but I have to say it came as something of a wake-up call. I was particularly moved by the way Barefoot Ted referred to me as “Dude” — it was like he was admitting me into his inner cabal, offering me a glimpse into the very heart of his Barefoot Tedness.

To read the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

In a related story, Michael Jackson
has admitted to being a little weird

I'm so sorry to be the one to have to tell you this ... I hope you're sitting down. It seems that, well ... Courtney Love has admitted to using drugs.

I know, it's disillusioning. Sigh ... This is just how I felt when I found out Liberace was gay.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

They were finally issued after months
of grueling tests with Christina Aguilera

You've got to hand it to the British. First they made all those amazing advances in tea, and now they've issued their soldiers germ-fighting underwear. If only I'd had those in the fifth grade, my entire social life might have been different. I'd rather not get into the details.

But the underwear does more than keep germs out of your underpants, which, frankly, would probably be enough. According to a representative of the Ministry of Defense, the underwear "is coated to prevent bacterial infection and we have tried to arrange the seams so that they don't chafe." This would come in especially handy in foxholes, or for civilians, spending an entire playoff season glued to your couch in the same shorts and lucky "Pat Patriot" T-shirt.

Meanwhile, it's safe to assume that terrorists are cursing this blow to their plan to give the entire free world a nasty rash.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

So Johnny, if you're ever
exposed to gamma radiation
and turned into a hulking monster,
remember, that's no reason to be rude


Mmmmm! Hamburgers make Hulk forget he's
a mindless creature consumed by rage!


Now, if I remember my comic books correctly, the Incredible Hulk was raging, violent maniac, prone to smashing anything (cars, buildings, that supervillain with the huge forehead) that got in his way. So should I find it disturbing that there appears to be a series of children's books in which the Hulk helps kids learn good manners? In a treehouse? While eating hamburgers and french fries? With "Spider-Girl"?

I'm against the whole thing. First of all, Hulk wouldn't be caught dead in a treehouse, unless he was smashing it into little splinters in a gamma ray-induced explosion of anger. Second, he wouldn't say "please" or "thank you" under any circumstances; he would say "Hulk smash!" Or if it was the TV show he would say "ARRRRRGHHH!" But not in a polite way.

All I know is, if the Hulk of the comic books, or the TV show, or the horrible movie in which Nick Nolte turns into a giant, energy-sucking jellyfish, acted in a polite manner, that wouldn't have been good for anybody. Except possibly those people who kept beating up Bill Bixby every week.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Could be Jesus ... Could be
Gabe Kaplan. You make the call.

Now, I'm no theologian, but even if I was I think I would be hard pressed to figure out why Jesus has taken to appearing on pierogis. If the question is, "What Would Jesus Do?", is it really possible that the answer is, "Appear on a Polish dumpling in Toledo"?

What's even more disturbing, though, is that the pierogi in question has been snatched up by GoldenPalace.com, the same Internet casino that bought the cheese sandwich that looked like the Virgin Mary. If Jesus were among us today, I don't think he'd like the idea of Internet casinos any more than he liked money lenders hanging around the Temple. Actual casinos he probably wouldn't have a problem with, because at least at those there's a floor show.

Anyway, all I know is, if Jesus shows up on a knish next, I'm going to be really confused.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

This week's column:
In N.Y., no west for the weary

Living so close to Boston, I can't help but feel connected to the early history of our country. Bostonians are acutely aware of the path our Founding Fathers took toward independence, primarily because it's conveniently painted red so you can find it again if you take a detour to ride on the Duck Boats.

But one era I don't feel in touch with is the Old West - this despite the fact that my daughter's new idol is none other than Charles "Pa" Ingalls of "Little House on the Prairie." (Whom I recently discovered took his family to the Kansas prairie to escape the hustle-bustle of ... Wisconsin? That Pa really must have had a really low threshold for hustle-bustle.)

So with Pa as inspiration, last week I took my family and headed west. To New York.

To read the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's a good thing he wasn't a
Looney Tunes fan, or someone
would be under an anvil right now

I always said those Stooges would lead to no good. If that boy had had access to a roomful of pies and a seltzer bottle, who knows what damage he could have done.

(I was always more of a Marx Bros. fan myself.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

As Chewbacca said when he
was trying to repair the hyperdrive, 'WAAAAAUUUUUUGGGH!'

I don’t believe it. Somebody beat me to the idea of doing a one-man show that reenacts the entire Star Wars trilogy. And after all these years I’ve spent practicing it in the shower.

Still, I’ve got to hand it to Charles Ross, who seems to actually be making a living by acting out his geek fantasies, unlike that poor “Star Wars Kid” whose light saber battle was distributed all over the Internet a few years back. All he got was a painfully embarrassing adolescence. I mean, even more painfully embarrassing than all the other Star Wars fans.

Anyway, they won’t catch me off guard twice. The Star Wars idea may be taken, but watch for my one-man reenactment of the entire 1980s output of John Cusack coming soon to a theater near you. A few more months practicing holding that boom box over my head and I should be all set.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Monday, August 08, 2005

What the boys didn't know
was that Uncle Jesse was
cookin' up a plan of his own ...


Now, those are Dukes!

Well, "The Dukes of Hazzard" is a huge hit at the box office, despite the fact that the guy who played "Cooter" on TV said that people should't go see it. Thus proving a cinematic truism: Nobody listens to the guy who played "Cooter."

The former Cooter's problem was that based on a script he'd seen, he thought the new version did too much sexing up of the wholesome family show he'd been a part of. (You know, the wholesome family show about moonshiners who may or may not have been in love with their barely dressed cousin.) Not having seen it I can't speak to whether or not it's trashier than the original, but I think it's safe to say the fans concerned that it might overdo the psychological ennui can breathe a sigh of relief.

Personally, as someone who after watching the show at age 11 has spent the rest of his life battling the urge to enter and exit his car through the window, I tend to agree with Cooter that the original is not to be trifled with. (I think we can all agree that Johnny Knoxville is no Mr. Tom Wopat.) But I'm still glad it's a hit, if only because that could possibly lead to a big-screen "BJ and the Bear."

Casting suggestions, anyone? I see Nicholson as Sheriff Lobo.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

This week's column:
Science sticks it to the dieting craze

I’d like to announce that, for the first time in recently memory, I’ve managed to drop several pounds. (By "several" I mean more than two, less than a regulation-sized bowling ball.)

Unfortunately, it seems my timing couldn’t be worse. After spending weeks dropping the weight by giving up some of the little treats that I love so much, like insatiable binge eating, I read that I could have done it by just getting a needle in the stomach. And you know that old saying: Who needs a healthy diet when you can get a needle in the stomach?

Yes, Reuters reported last week that researchers at Imperial College London believe an injection of a natural digestive hormone into the small intestine could actually help people lose weight. Primarily obese people, but remember, studies show that in America that will soon include everyone except Paris Hilton. (And how long can she hold out? One Big Mac and she’d probably blow up like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka.)

For the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Like 'City Slickers,' except
I'm coming from a suburb

Off, inexplicably, to a dude ranch in N.Y. for three days with the family starting tomorrow. I know I am in fact a dude, because about 20 minutes after my recent column on the dangers of flip-flops was published, I received an e-mail from a gentleman by the name of Barefoot Ted that read, in full, "Dude, take off your shoes and learn to live a little."

Apparently Barefoot Ted likes to climb mountains without shoes on; this reminds me of the people who insist on climbing Mt. Everest without the little oxygen tanks. They all need to get in more.

Regardless, if I wind up riding a horse, barefoot, bareback or otherwise bare, you'll read about it here this weekend. If I get trampled, you'll know why you haven't heard from me.

Monday, August 01, 2005

No matter what, she was a huge
improvement over Buddy Hackett


Put it back on, Lindsay! Put it back on!

Took the kids to see "Herbie: Fully Loaded" today, and I can't help but wonder: Why did that nice little redheaded Lindsay Lohan get all skinny and blonde on us after this movie came out? She was cute as a button riding around in that funny little car, with her freckles and actual human eyebrows. (I'm also wondering ... Nobody could ask Dean Jones to be in this thing? It's an insult.)

Anyway, I realize she was already on the road to Britneydom when she took her clothes off for the cover of Entertainment Weekly last year, but maybe there's still time ... Lindsay, if you're out there, go back to the red hair and the normal-girl proportions. We'll still love you! (And whatever you do, stop going to Tommy Mottola for image advice -- he's a dirty old man anyway.)