Thursday, September 29, 2005

I accept PayPal

It's my birthday again, which at this stage of my life means primarily that I’m another year closer to my encounter with the inescapable specter of doom. Plus, cake!

Send presents care of this blog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

He's more machine than
man now ... twisted and evil

When will people come to their senses and realize that George Lucas is the devil? Barely a year after releasing the original (updated) Star Wars trilogy on DVD, he's releasing it again, for the same price, with less special features, with different packaging. Yes, he wants to see if he can get us to pay $49.95 for a cardboard box. It's this type of twisted scheme that makes Darth Sidious look like Mary-Kate Olsen. Or Ashley Olsen. Whichever one is less evil.

Personally, I think it should be against the law to take such blatant advantage of unsuspecting, impressionable Star Wars geeks. They're so helpless with their little plastic lightsabers and brown hooded bathrobes, or whatever they are. Somebody has got to stand up for these people.

So George, wherever you are, we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore! Unless you decide to make Episodes VII-IX, in which case we'll wait on line for days to watch them suck.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if the end product of George Lucas' life work turns out to be simply this, it will have all been worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How many documentaries,
must one man watch ...

Little-known facts you missed if you didn't watch the new Bob Dylan documentary on PBS:
  • As a child, played "Froggy" in the "Little Rascals."
  • Newport folk festival crowd was actually booing because the refreshment stands ran out of Nehi.
  • Text of note slipped to hospital attendant by Woody Guthrie: "Please get this strange little man out of my room."
  • Dylan credited with popularizing the Jewish Afro, a style single-handedly killed in 1975 by Gabe Kaplan.
  • Took his name not, as many think, from Dylan Thomas, but from Luke Perry's character on "90210."

Um ... OK, I didn't actually watch it. But I plan to get the DVD.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Plus if you go high enough he'd
probably agree to be your butler

Only three more days to bid on the collected worldly possessions of some guy from England who's trying to auction off everything he owns. As of this writing it's up to £5,100 for the entire collection; I'm not up on the current exchange rate, but I believe that's enough for several tanks of petrol.

On the one hand, I give him a lot of credit -- if I tried the same thing I'd be worried that I'd get about 80 bucks for the whole lot, and that's if I included my car. (You'll recall what happened at my yard sale, where I wound up offering people money to steal the stuff while I pretended to be tying my shoe.) Of course, he has a lot better stuff than I do -- I mean, does anybody really need an Xbox, Ps2 and a Gamecube? How many joysticks can one man manipulate?

Anyway, if you have a bunch of extra pounds lying around, give it a shot. According to the listing, "escrow is available," which is the perfect way to get some other guy's electronic equipment, furniture, clothing, DVDs and a "Fluval Duo Tropical Aquarium with base (fish included if requested)." Do it for the fish.
(Thanks to Steven Hartwright)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

This week's column:
Shhh! The kids have ears

There are lots of things nobody tells you about before you have kids. And I'm not just talking about those sights and smells from the early years that come back to you long after your children are out of diapers, making you jolt upright in bed like an old soldier flashing back to Tipperary.

No, I'm talking about the realization that, despite all the time and effort you put into feeding and clothing them and bringing them to blow wildly expensive bubbles at Gymboree, kids eventually grow to be little spies reporting all of your family secrets to the highest bidder, or at least anybody who seems the least bit interested.

That's right, moms and dads: Don't look now, but you're living with Donnie Brasco.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2005

And yet the Heidi Klum
front remains oddly silent

It's time to choose your favorite supermodel news story of the day:
  1. Kate Moss is ostracized by the modeling community, such that it is, when it's discovered that the progenitor of "heroin chic" has used ... cocaine! Why couldn't she just stay skinny by forcing herself to throw up, like everybody else?
  2. Tyra Banks (right) has herself felt up by a plastic surgeon on TV to prove that her breasts are real. Next week she plans to have a brain surgeon feel her head.
  3. Rebecca Romijn announces plans to marry Jerry O'Connell, as her ex-husband continues his exhuastive search for another model to attach his Stamos to.
  4. John O'Hurley wins "Dancing with the Stars" rematch, but withers under Kelly Monaco's subsequent glare of death. (OK, I know he's not a supermodel. But I felt this needed to be mentioned.)

Vote in the comments section, or, if you'd prefer to show your solidarity with America's put-upon supermodels in a more meaningful way, stop eating and grow six inches. OK, go!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Does Jesus know about this?

When I heard that a British reverend had written an abbreviated version of the Bible that can be read in 100 minutes, I couldn't help but think, how do you decide what gets left out? Focus groups? I can see the comment cards now:
  • "Dude, I was snoozing during all those begats."
  • "When that Job guy got all the sores? Ew."
  • "Mark, John, Luke -- one version is enough, for crying out loud!"
  • "I think four days and four nights would be plenty. I mean we get it, it was wet."
  • "More Sodom & Gomorrah! More Sodom & Gomorrah!"
  • "Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego -- it takes about 10 minutes just to get through those names. What's wrong with Moe, Larry and Curly?"
  • "That whale would be a lot cooler if it was a killer whale."
  • "Come on, 40 years in the desert? I mean we get it, it was hot."
  • "Cut that whole 'God created the heavens and the earth' part down to two days and you've got yourself a hit on your hands."
  • "That Revelations stuff ... I don't know, I think that could have waited for the sequel."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Better keep the cat in for a while

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time before they started to find alligators in my home state of Massachusetts. Now I can add it to the list of things that make me want to never leave my house, like EEE mosquitoes, nor'easters and Ted Kennedy.

They're not sure where the gators came from, but according to one eyewitness they were "making this weird croaking and groaning sound." No need for alarm, though -- everybody talks that way up here. It's wicked annoying.

Monday, September 19, 2005

'Pass the oxygen, boys -- I've
almost reached the belly button!'

Why? Because it is there.

For those of you who don't think America's Draconian zoning regulations aren't strangling the lifeblood out of this country, consider this: In the entire nation, there is not a single hill, knoll or mountain range with a 200-foot pink bunny sprawled across it. And they call this the land of the free.

Luckily for the inhabitants of sunny Italy, their government has no such problems. There, on the side of the 5,000-foot Colletto Fava mountain, the Viennese art group Gelatin (motto: "There's always room for a 200-foot pink bunny") has erected just such a rabbit. And it certainly is majestic, even if it looks like it's just been clubbed to death by Jennifer Lopez on its way to being made into a stole.

But it's not just for show; according to, "they are expecting hikers to climb its 20-foot sides and relax on its belly." Thus proving, in case it wasn't obvious before: Europeans have way too much vacation time.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

This week's column:
Who let the robot dogs out?

Those of you who recall my declarations that I'd never use a cell phone or a car DVD player know that my word means nothing. But this time I want you to hold me to it when I say that I will never, under any circumstances, get a robot dog. (Also, keep me away from that new iPod nano -- I'm afraid I could accidentally swallow it.)

Sure, I could see why someone might want a robot dog -- you could leave it alone for days on end, they don't chew toys, furniture or each other, they don't emit anything that might lead you to need the services of someone with "The Ruginator" printed on the side of his van, etc.

Also, they would never need a retainer, unlike my family's black Lab, Lily, whose teeth were growing in wrong and needed a specially molded piece of plastic grafted to them, at a price that would indicate it was made via a process involving cold fusion. It's developments such as this that leave thoughtful pet owners to wonder: Do the vets ever stop laughing at us?

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

Thursday, September 15, 2005

And yet no one seems particularly
interested in punishing her for 'Gigli'

Watch out, horse -- you may be next.

This just in: Heather McCartney has announced that she will begin stalking Jennifer Lopez until Lopez realizes that it's wrong to wear fur. Now, how come when the wife of a billionaire ex-Beatle stalks Jennifer Lopez it's considered a valiant fight for a noble cause, and yet when I do it I'm threatened with restraining orders? I'm speaking hypothetically, sort of.

For her part, Lopez has said in the past she was unaware of exactly how fur was made. Although it's safe to presume she had a vague idea that it had to be forcibly removed from the animal in order to be worn -- otherwise her chinchilla bustier would be trying to claw her to death.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Admittedly, without Pedro and Don
Zimmer it's all much less interesting

As a native New Yorker living in Boston, this time of year leaves me with something of a personality crisis. On the one hand I come from a long line of Yankee boosters (even if as a kid I could relate better to the Mets, who shared with my little league team an almost stunning propensity for ineptitude); on the other hand, my decade-plus in Red Sox country has given me a certain appreciation for followers of the Old Town Team, even if I always knew that when push came to shove they'd crumble like a stale Triscuit.

Of course, this all changed last year. Now, all bets are off, and a headline like today's "Yankees crush Devil Rays, close gap on Red Sox" -- which used to be an indicator that the Yankees were revving up to stomp over the Sox on their way to October glory -- could mean that by next month, after a hard-fought season, both teams will have been kidnapped by space aliens. That's how topsy turvy the baseball world has become.

Regardless, we should all heed the words of Jason Giambi, who managed to keep his biceps from exploding long enough to say that this time of year, "You leave it all on the field, because if you don't play in September, there is no October." (Although technically there is an October, even if Giambi is spending it lying on the couch hoping he doesn't grow bosoms.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Maybe Celine Dion can join in
and really buoy their spirits

BBC News reports that Mariah Carey will perform on Michael Jackson's charity single for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

My God. Haven't these people suffered enough?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fortunately, long lines,
overpriced souvenirs and
screaming children are universal

Overheard at the new Hong Kong Disneyland theme park (loosely translated from the Chinese):
  • "Will those small animatronic children never stop singing?"
  • "The large clumsy creature frightens me! Is he horse or dog?"
  • "This frozen 'Mickey Bar' is harder than the hardest iron deposits at the mines of Bayan-Obo."
  • "Shark-fin soup? I wanted Toll House cookies."
  • "I could be mistaken, but I believe this Jungle Cruise guide is mocking me."
  • "Will those small animatronic Tiki Birds never stop singing?"
  • "Wait, that is Minnie? Is it me, or do all of these mice look alike?"
  • "That humorous Pooh Bear! He cannot resist the honey when there is a rumbly in his tumbly!"
  • "Tea cups with handles?"
  • "Those animatronic presidents are eerie and disturbing! Oh wait, that's Michael Eisner and Bob Iger."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

This week's column:
Now and then there's a fuel such as I

With all the suffering going on in the world, it seems kind of petty to complain about something like gas prices. Fortunately, that's never stopped most of us before -- if we didn't complain about petty things we'd spend most of our time staring at each other, cursing the awkward silence.

Still, I'm determined to find a silver lining to the cost of fuel. For instance, take my 1998 two-door Chevy Cavalier, which seemed small when I just had a dog but with an entire family feels almost comically diminutive, like a clown car. These days, though, people look at me in it like I was some sort of prescient genius -- a single guy could actually use this car to pick up women now.

However, even with a small car the gas prices have seemed onerous. This could have something to do with my until-recent tendency to buy gas $5 at a time, which today would get me approximately as far as the next pump.

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

Come on, rise up ...

Victims of Hurricane Katrina still need your help. If the Red Cross isn't your bag, you can pitch in to a grassroots movement started by some Bruce Springsteen fans by clicking here.

And yes, I got tickets for the Boston show. No thanks to Bruce, who has yet to send me my free tickets. I'm sure he's just busy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Could be worse -- after all, Cheney
doesn't care about anybody

This just in: In the wake of the spectacular reaction to his remarks earlier this week, Kanye West has released a list of other people George Bush doesn't care about:

  • Short people
  • Fat people
  • The Baldwin brothers
  • People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • People who can pronounce "subliminal"
  • The (Luke and Owen) Wilson Brothers
  • People up there in those blue states
  • Umpires
  • Guys with girls' names, like Leslie -- what's up with that?
  • The Statler Brothers The Wayans Brothers
  • Carp (not technically people)

Personal note: I'm no fan of Mr. Bush, but I think it's kind of ridiculous to say that he doesn't care about black people. Everybody knows it's poor people he doesn't care about.

Someone's not getting his bonus this year

Breaking news: "Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role managing Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, according to the Associated Press."

Well, that's certainly not going to look good come performance review time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

And now I'm just waiting for the
endorsement offers to come pouring in

Thank you for all the cards and letters of congratulations. Yes, it's true -- I got a new blog profile picture. I was going for suave and debonair, although I think I might have fallen a little short and may have to settle for "suffering stoically through gas pains." (Next time I should probably add a pipe or bite on the earpiece of my glasses -- that spells "class" every time.)

Anyway, your comments are welcome, although I should mention that I already know I look sort of like a human version of Fozzie Bear. We don't need to go dredging all that up again.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

We can only hope that
somewhere, the Skipper is
slapping him with his hat

RIP, Bob Denver. Thanks for bumbling your way into our hearts.

Crikey! That gator just
drank my last Crown Lager!

Pop quiz! If you saw an alligator swimming in the Allegheny River, what would be the proper course of action?

1) Call your local animal control officer;
2) Run away screaming and waving your arms wildly in the air;
3) Capture it using techniques learned by watching the television program "Crocodile Hunter";
4) Shoot to kill.

Actually, any of 1, 2 or 4 are acceptable, but yes, No. 3 is the method tried by a Pennsylvania girl who found herself in just that situation. Apparently she grabbed the animal's snout and held its mouth closed so her friends could put it in a beverage cooler. They then gave the cooler to police, but it would have been funnier if they'd left it at a frat party. ("Dude, want another MichelAGGHGHGH!!!")

Monday, September 05, 2005

Another reason to buy that unicycle

The gas prices have got me nervous, and not just because what I just spent on gas for my Chevy Cavalier could two weeks ago have filled up Arnold Schwarzenegger's Humvee. No, I'm concerned that the next possibility is a full-fledged gas shortage, which would give me another reason to have disturbing flashbacks to my 1970s childhood. (The pants ... Oh, the horror of the pants!)

Fashions aside, the last thing I want is another situation like when I was a kid, when people would wait in gas lines for hours listening to AM radio (I think Imus had both his lungs back then) and swearing out the window at no one in particular. Personally, nothing drove the fuel shortage home like two hours waiting in the back of my mother’s Monte Carlo, sitting between a brother and sister who were taking advantage of the extra time in the car to devise new ways of strangling each other.

So I'll pay the prices for now, but mark my words: If the lines at the gas stations go more than three cars deep, I'm going to Alaska to drill myself. Who's with me? C'mon, Dick Cheney, I know you want to!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This week's column:
This family needs to get in more

I don't tend to consider myself a big traveler. Not so much by choice - it's just that I have young kids, which makes traveling daunting. I look at how it's difficult to even make a trip to the supermarket without someone coming home covered in cheese.

And yet somehow, this past summer proved to be particularly travel-heavy for my happy brood. We made our usual jaunt to Storyland; had an extended-family vacation in New York; and had an extended-extended-family outing at the annual (except for 1983-2004) "Chianca Family Reunion." Then most recently we borrowed a cottage in New Hampshire which had a beautiful view of the all-day rain, a situation which would make any parent contemplate the most preferable outcome to "Live Free or Die."

All this travel has led my wife and me to an important conclusion: Next summer, we need to stay home. Unfortunately, we know that once we're coming out of another New England winter we'll forget that, and instead feel ourselves tempted by the siren call of hotel pools filled with so much chlorine that children tend to bob gently on the surface, like in the Dead Sea.

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

ABOUT THE CARTOON: Marty Riskin is the talented cartoonist and illustrator who provides the cartoon that accompanies my column in Herald Media publications each week. Check for a new one here with my column every Sunday.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Well I got this blog, and I
learned how to make it talk ...

Things I'm willing to do to get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen, the greatest live performer in the history of rock 'n' roll:
  • Wear a headband for the better part of a decade;
  • Disregard years of grammatical training in the hopes that these badlands might actually start treating us good;
  • Sunbathe in my underwear with Patti Scialfa;
  • Listen to "Human Touch" straight through (I've actually done this recently -- it's a lot better than you remember. No, seriously.);
  • Do an awkward white-man dance with Courtney Cox;
  • Vote for John Kerry;
  • Let my ramrod rock (just not in public);
  • Volunteer to be the guy who tells unruly crowd members to shut the &%#@! up;
  • Pick a random person out of my life (boss, mailman, distant relative) and refer to him exclusively as "The Big Man";
  • Promise to seek out and destroy every remaining copy of this picture.

Bruce, please send the tickets care of this blog. I'll just sit here and wait.