Monday, December 25, 2006

This week's column:
So what's the deal with Christmas?

Once again, Peter Chianca turns over his column space to Mr. Holiday, who will answer your holiday queries. This week: Christmas.
***
Dear Mr. Holiday:
Is it true that although, ostensibly, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, historians and theologians think he was more likely born in June, and that Dec. 25 was picked because it had been the day of a pagan celebration called Saturnalia which commemorated the birth of the sun god?
Wondering in Wellesley

Dear Wondering:
I don't know if that's true, but I do know that, ostensibly, you're going to burn in eternal hellfire.

The fact is, it doesn't matter whether or not Jesus was really born that day, and I'll tell you why: Jesus had a movie that made $361 million last year. Show me one sun god movie that grossed even half that.

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

In her defense, does it say specifically
in the rule book that she can't flash and
make out with other girls?



Pop culture trivia question of the day: The person who said, "Those pictures don't surprise me -- she was always showing off her boobs," was referring to:

  1. Miss USA Tara Conner;
  2. Miss Teen USA Katie Blair;
  3. Miss Nevada Katie Rees; or
  4. Golden Globe nominee for "The Queen" Helen Mirren.

Trick question ... The correct answer is "Donald Trump."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's worth noting that the dogs
weren't wearing any underwear either

Britney, Britney, Britney ... We were able to forgive you for wearing the snake at the MTV awards; driving with your child on your lap instead of in a carseat; dumping K-Fed by text message; leaving your kids behind to party with Paris Hilton; and failing to wear underwear. But ignoring your dogs ... Well, that's just low.

But a new online poll has named Britney "Worst Celebrity Dog Owner" for 2006, and by a wide margin, apparently. Hilary O'Hagan, editor of The New York Dog and The Hollywood Dog magazines, said she was the "overwhelming choice," noting, "She once had three Chihuahuas ... and never left home without at least one of them on her arm. As soon as she met K-Fed and had kids they (the dogs) disappeared." And as soon as she met Paris Hilton they (the kids) disappeared, so we're sensing a pattern here.

Then again, what about Natasha Lyonne? Oh wait, that was the neighbor's dog.

Monday, December 18, 2006

This week's column:
There's no time like the presents

Don’t tell me — Christmas is almost here and you still haven’t found the right gifts for the important people in your life. Well, that’s just because you’re not on the mailing lists for the companies that make the truly original products, the kinds of items that, when you give them as gifts, say to the recipient: “It’s time you reported me to the local authorities.”

Luckily for you, though, these companies seem to have no trouble finding me. So without further ado, following is the second annual At Large Holiday Gift Guide.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This week's column:
Singing a new 'Christmas Carol'

Each holiday season brings certain things that are unavoidable. For instance, at some point in December you’re going to turn on the radio and hear “Dominic, the Italian Christmas Donkey.” And some of those times, if you’re distracted enough, you may listen to almost the whole thing before remembering to change the station. That’s three minutes of your life you’ll never get back.

Another thing you can count on is to be bombarded with umpteen stage productions of “A Christmas Carol,” not to mention the film versions with the likes of Mr. Magoo, Mickey Mouse and the Muppets. (Granted, Charles Dickens is believed to have commented to William Makepeace Thackeray, “My ‘Christmas Carol’ is pretty good on paper, but with a fake felt frog ... well, that would be something.”)

If we do have to have so many versions, though, wouldn’t it be nice if they did something different for a change? For instance, does it always have to be ghosts? Why not ever the Wolf Man? And that ending where Scrooge gets all nice — just once I’d like to see him wake up, down a snifter of schnapps and foreclose on Cratchit’s house.

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And yet bullets remain readily available

Well, it's official: New York City has banned Trans-Fats from all of its restaurants. But before you panic, don't worry -- Taco Bell will still be able to serve e. coli.

Meanwhile, in its continuing effort to stem the tide of obesity, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering the following follow-up bans:
  • Anything glazed;
  • All things Cinnabon;
  • Any cheese that's a color not found in nature;
  • Foods that, if you squeezed them hard enough, would relinquish enough grease to power a diesel vehicle;
  • Anything that tastes, you know, good.

Monday, December 04, 2006

This week's column:
It's an urban jungle out there

I want to start off by saying that, when I was in my 20s, traversing the mean streets of the city didn’t faze me at all. Not that the streets where I lived werethat mean, but they were certainly meaner than the ones I’m used to now in the suburbs, which are not mean at all -- they’re like the Pat Boone of streets. They’re also empty after 8 o’clock at night, which is not a trait that streets in the "mean" category usually like to cultivate.

But despite my diversion into suburbia (like most suburbanites, it feels like one day I just woke up here, like a sailor who gets something funny in his rum and wakes up in the hold of a ship bound for China), I always felt that if I was dropped back into a city I’d regain my urban instincts, like domesticated animals who are returned to the wild and immediately start eating voles.

Which is why I was so surprised recently when my wife and I took my 5-year-old son on the train to see a show in Boston. When we walked into the T station, I was immediately disoriented -- where was the nice lady who sells the tokens? What were these glowing, high-tech card kiosks? I vaguely remembered hearing something about a new fare card system -- I recall seeing Gov. Romney on TV in a train station, looking like he wished something would flood or blow up -- but I had filed it in the back of my brain with all the other things that don’t affect me, like global warming.

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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Limoncellos for everybody!

Meant to blog tonight, but I'm going out drinking with George Clooney. You can catch me tomorrow on "The View"!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Paris taught her everything she
knows about not wearing underwear

In today's celebrity marital breakdown news, a big "Hah!" to all of you who predicted that Britney wouldn't be able to bounce back from her split with Kevin Federline. It took mere weeks for Britney to be photographed being groped by Paris Hilton and generating headlines like "Britney Spears Flashes Privates, Gets Press." And that was from ABC News, so you can only imagine what the headlines at E! are saying.

We here at At Large just want to say, good for Britney! So what if she has no idea where her kids are? Surely some nanny is looking after them. Meanwhile, Britney, before you get back on the horse completely, you may want to invest in a pair of these.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meanwhile, most people are
giving the divorce about six months

Darn it ... This time I really thought it was going to last. Never mind what I said in July.

But I guess the romance of Pam Anderson and Kid Rock is really the same old story: How many of us have had lavish wedding ceremonies in in France, California, Michigan and Tennessee, only to wake up four months later and realize that we were married to a scuzzy dirtbag and/or a trashy bimbo?

No reason yet for the breakup, but I think we all know who Kid Rock is really in love with. Meanwhile, it looks like it will be up to a judge to decide custody of the tremendous bosoms.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

This week's column:
So this is the thanks dads get

I can’t help but wonder why, when Thanksgiving rolls around, no one ever asks us dads advice on the holiday meal. You’d think all we were capable of on Thanksgiving was stuffing our faces and lying on the couch with our distended bellies hanging over our loosened belts, which is patently untrue. We also watch football.

But some of us fathers just happen to know our way around a kitchen. For instance, I am recognized throughout my household for my expert preparation of the following meals:
  1. Hot dogs;
  2. Tacos, from box;
  3. Salami sandwiches (note: does not technically involve cooking).

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just make sure to also adopt
some cranberry sauce and gravy

Yes, Thanksgiving is so close that many of you are already seated at the head of your dining room table with your bib on, knife and fork clutched in your sweaty palms. OK, I'm talking about me.

But while eating a big dead turkey is probably part of your plans, it's not too late to make up for some of the bad karma doing that is bound to engender. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about adopting a turkey.

It seems Farm Sanctuary in Millis, Mass. has rescued more than 1,000 turkeys, "and more than450 have been adopted to loving homes throughout the U.S." Because lets face it, what could be better than that moment when you come home from work and your pet turkey runs to the door, jumps up into your arms and nuzzles you until you scratch his waddle?

I should mention that this activity is endorsed by Charlotte Ross, pictured above, who is listed on the Adopt-a-Turkey website as a celebrity. I've never heard of her, but what do we need to know other than that she's willing to get down on her knees and share some sugar with a turkey? But if that's not good enough for you, just ask Gloria.

Monday, November 20, 2006

So much for the rumor that Chris Klein
and the guys from 'American Pie' were
going to kidnap her for deprogramming

Well, the TomKat wedding has come and gone, ending with what news reports have described as a kiss that was "never-ending," not unlike the eternal pole on which Tom Cruise seems determined to fly his freak-flag.

But wait a minute -- a high-profile wedding, a bizarre guest list, a freakily long kiss seemingly designed to elicit viewer discomfort ... What is this whole scenario reminding me of?

Oh, right.

Well, best of luck to all!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This week's column:
Living off the fat of the land

It's always difficult to adjust your eating habits this time of year, when you're transitioning between leftover Halloween candy and a diet consisting almost entirely of stuffing. One option is to try to limit yourself to vegetables and whole grains in anticipation of upcoming holiday binging. Or, you can go to Arizona for an 8,000-calorie cheeseburger.

Hmmm ... I wonder how much flights to Tempe are these days?

I'm referring, of course, to the Quadruple Bypass Burger, which made headlines recently for being 8,000 calories and roughly the size of a human head. It has four slabs of beef totaling 2 pounds, three layers of cheese, four layers of bacon, lettuce, tomato and who knows what else ... paparazzi are rumored to have been picking through them in search of Kevin Federline.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I always thought of it
more as a lifestyle choice

I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone wanted "Jedi Knight" recognized as an actual religion. And sure enough two people from Britain -- "Umada" and "Yunyun," also known as John Wilkinson and Charlotte Law -- have done just that, saying, "Like the UN, the Jedi Knights are peacekeepers and we feel we have the basic right to express our religion through wearing our robes." Well, I'll tell you this, buckos, you have to do a lot more than wear robes to be as effective as actual UN peacekeepers! Oh wait, not really.

Regardless, anyone with half a brain knows that Umada and Yunyun are crazy to ask to be officially recognized as Jedis. For one thing, too old to start the training are they.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Watch your back, Emmitt ...
Karina may be waiting in the
parking lot with an ice pick

Well, I voted for Emmit Smith (yeah -- I voted ... you got a problem with that? It's my duty as an American), so I'm happy for him. But some guys really have all the luck -- to be a three-time Super Bowl winner and have possession of the cheesy disco ball trophy? Spread it around, my friend!

But instead of wallowing, I'm going to follow Emmit's lead and reach for that seemingly unattainable goal. That's right: I'm going to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher!

Or maybe just try to wear green sparkly shoes without getting beaten up ...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This week's column:
Going from bad to Worcester

You should always figure you’re probably in trouble if you find yourself asking the question, "How hard could it be?" You know, like, "How hard could it be to replace the Central Artery with an underground tunnel?" or, "How hard could it be to establish a democratic government in the heart of the Middle East?"

After an experience I had last week, I’ll add another question to that list: "How hard could it be to kill a couple of hours in Worcester, Mass.?"

It started when I volunteered to drive my wife and daughter to Worcester (pronounced "Woosta-chestah-shire") to see the Cheetah Girls at the DCU Center. For the uninformed, the Cheetah Girls are a trio of squeaky-clean multicultural teenagers who sing and dance in Disney Channel movies. And they’re not the same as the Pussycat Dolls -- boy, did I find that out the hard way.

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

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This week's column:
Every dog has his Election Day

With Election Day coming up, it’s worth noting that although voter turnout continues to be abysmal, most polling places have yet to institute any kind of free giveaways, like toasters or scratch tickets. Polls of non-voters continue to point to this as a huge error -- even at a blood drive you at least get cookies.

But the main thing keeping people away from the polls, it turns out, is the fact that voters are confused and intimidated. They have a lot of questions: Who should they vote for? How will the issues on the ballot affect them in the future? Which of these candidates would warrant an "8" or better from Bruno Tonioli? Etc.

Well, first of all, before deciding which candidate to vote for in a particular race, you should make sure to do each of the following:

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'Well, people kept ringing the bell!'

The thing about bus hijackers: They're always doing things like blowing the bus up or putting a bomb in it that will go off it it drops below 60 mph. But very few of them continue making all the stops. That's why our Bus Hijacker of the Week award goes to 15-year-old Ritchie Davis of Florida, who not only stole a bus from the Orange County, Fla., fairgrounds, but took the passengers on their route without a hitch, except for the part where one of them called 911 and he was pulled over and arrested.

An apparent serial bus stealer, Davis is on probation for stealing a charter bus and driving passengers around. "This happened like three times, so I guess he really do like driving buses," said his father, who at least now knows what to get him for Chrismas. I hear the Trailways ones are pretty nice.

Monday, October 30, 2006

But don't worry, the chickens
will still be bound in tiny pens
and painfully slaughtered

I don't know about you, but when I go into Kentucky Fried Chicken, it's not for the tender, crispy chicken strips, the juicy boneless wings, nor even the whipped-to-perfection potatoes and gravy. No, I go there for the trans fats ... those sweet, golden vats of oily heaven.

So what am I to think now that I hear KFC is going trans fat free, effective this spring? Is nothing sacred? What's next -- McDonald's hamburgers that won't cause an immediate shutdown of your gastric system?

I know, I know: KFC President Gregg Dedrick says there will be absolutely "no compromise" in the taste of their food -- everything from their Original Recipe to their Extra Crispy will taste exactly the same. But ... We'll know, Gregg. We'll know.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This week's column:
So what's the deal with Halloween?

It's time once again for "Mr. Holiday" to answer your holiday queries. This week: Halloween.
***
Dear Mr. Holiday:
I had planned to dress as a straightjacketed maniac this Halloween, but then I read that the National Alliance on Mental Illness is upset about costumes like this. Should I change my plans?
Going Crazy in Canton
Dear Going:
Absolutely not! Mental health professionals are notoriously touchy, but it shouldn't be a problem as long as we make it a point to be sensitive in the way we portray nut jobs and wackos. It would be a shame to get rid of those types of costumes and attractions altogether, because Halloween is really the only day of the year we have to celebrate raving psychopaths. I mean besides Election Day.
For the rest of this week's AT LARGE by Peter Chianca, click here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This is why more and more financial
advisors are recommending death

A hearty congratulations to Kurt Cobain, who knocked Elvis out to take the top spot on Forbes' annual list of top-earning dead celebrities! On the down side, of course, he's still dead.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This week's column:
Never too early to fall into winter

You may have noticed that the days have started getting darker and colder, and yet for some reason your drawers are still full of tank tops and bathing suits. This is because you're in a very profound form of denial and -- like the residents of Buffalo, N.Y. -- will soon leave your house without so much as a windbreaker and walk directly into a 6-foot snow bank, not to be discovered until you're thawed out by archaeologists in the year 7012.

Yes, despite the odd 70-degree day, winter is bearing down on us. This is why I spent my vacation last week preparing my household for that unavoidable eventuality, as humans have been doing for centuries. We're just like the Pilgrims in that regard, if the Pilgrims had needed to figure out which screens went into what windows after they removed their air conditioners.

So with that fresh in my mind, I thought I would offer up the following winter preparation checklist. Like the squirrels foraging for nuts in between their attacks on park rangers, you are not ready for winter unless you've done each of the following:

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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

He should have sprung
for the shatterproof glass

Another good reason not to be a billionaire: You might accidentally poke a hole in your $130 million Picasso with your elbow.

Looking around my house, the most expensive thing I'm in danger of poking a hole in with one of my extremities is my $200 TV set, and that's only if I get really, really mad at Bruno Tonioli.

Luckily for billionaire casino owner Steve Wynn, that's just a drop in the bucket, and I'm sure he has plenty of other art to hang in its place while it's being restored. Meanwhile, he may want to consider getting his elbows trimmed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What would Li'l Kim say?

For those of you concerned about our nation's prison system, never fear: They're finally forcing female visitors to wear bras. This is apparently coming as a major disappointment to all the women who enjoy flashing their naked bosoms at their convict boyfriends. And you thought you were in a dysfunctional relationship.

Officials at the Vanderburgh, Va. County Jail (motto: "Where the Visitors Don't Expose Themselves") hope the new dress code "will create a more family friendly environment." Presumably the next step will be teaching the guards how to fold balloon animals.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This week's column:
Space elevator plan on the up-and-up

You’ve probably heard about how scientists, at this very moment, are coming up with a plan to build an elevator into space. Now, you may ask, why do we need an elevator into space? Well, the obvious answer is, because it makes more sense than an escalator into space.

Still, I’m concerned the scientists may not have thought this thing through. It seems to me they’ve spent far too much time developing the carbon nanotubes necessary to haul passengers and equipment 62,000 miles into space, and not nearly enough time considering something equally pressing, namely, what music do you play in an elevator that travels 62,000 miles? That’s a long time to listen to instrumental versions of "I’ll Never Fall in Love Again" by Burt Bacharach.

For instance, it seems to me an elevator trip that long could easily accommodate entire concept albums, like Pink Floyd’s "The Wall," "(Music from) The Elder" by Kiss and Styx’s "Kilroy was Here." Although hopefully not all of them in a row, or you’ll have people opting to jettison themselves out of the airlock and explode.

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

Sunday, October 08, 2006

This week's column:
Coffee: The fuel of greatness?

I turned 38 last week. It’s worth noting that by the time George Gershwin was 38, he had composed songs for John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday, written "Porgy and Bess" and won the Pulitzer Prize. He had also died, so if I can just make it to 39 I’ll at least have that over him.

Even if I manage that one, however, I can’t help but wonder why I haven’t notched such accomplishments during my 38 years on earth. Yes, yes, I have the loving wife and the two great kids and all that, but let’s face it, none of those are going to get me an entry on Wikipedia. I’m talking about the kind of achievement that would garner the notice of history, preferably the type of history that has the authority to write me a certified seven-figure check.

With that in mind, this will be the first in a series of columns looking at what I could be doing to better motivate myself toward achieving greatness. And in an effort to start things off slowly, the first suggestion I have to myself is: Drink more coffee.

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

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who's your daddy?

This just in: All men between 18 and 89 may be required to submit to a mandatory DNA test to show whether they're the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. I think I stand a pretty good shot -- granted, I've never met her, but I think it kind of looks like me.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not good news for Limp Bizkit fans

Freelance projects have been keeping me from blogging of late, but I felt I had an obligation to take the time to point out the following: After years of intensive research, science has finally developed the musical condom. Because nothing attracts the ladies like interrupting an intimate moment to unveil a singing prophylactic. Word has it that's how Wilt Chamberlain did it.

The best part is, the company predicts a booming secondary market in people picking the tunes for their condoms, much like cell phone rings. The most popular so far:
  • "Big Rock Candy Mountain" by Peter, Paul & Mary
  • "Hard Habit to Break" by Chicago
  • "Down So Long" by The Doors.
  • [Insert obvious sexual reference here]

Saturday, September 30, 2006

This week's column:
Wile. E. Chianca, super-genius!

I’d like to apologize if I haven’t been in touch lately, but I was staying off the phone in case the MacArthur Foundation was trying to call to give me a $500,000 "genius grant." Somehow they never got through, though -- I think it might be because I can’t figure out how to charge my cordless handset.

Still, I think a genius grant would be perfect for me, mainly because there’s not a lot of confusing paperwork -- they just call you out of the blue and give you $500,000. It’s like Publishers Clearing House, except for geniuses.

And the best part is, there are no strings attached. For instance, with most grants in, say, molecular chemistry, you have to use the money to do more chemistry. But with a genius grant, you could spend the entire $500,000 on hams if you wanted to, and the MacArthur Foundation would just chuckle and say, "Oh, just look at that unconventional genius, buying all those hams!" Let’s face it, geniuses can get away with murder.

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

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

This week's column:
The good, the bad and the super

I’m not sure why I’m admitting this in public, but last night I actually watched the "Fantastic Four" movie on HBO. This is the movie about whose characters Roger Ebert asked, in his one-star review, "Are these people complete idiots?" Which of course they are, but not as much as I am for spending two hours of my life watching them.

So why, then, would I -- a grown adult who could have spent my Friday night viewing, say, "The Seventh Seal" by Ingmar Bergman -- choose to instead watch a movie about a rubbery guy, a fiery guy, a naked invisible woman and a guy made of rocks? I mean besides the fact that it was after 9:30 p.m., when my brain shrinks to almost microscopic size, sort of like Ant-Man.

The only good explanation I can offer is that as a kid, I spent way more than two hours -- try days, weeks, months, years -- poring over Fantastic Four comic books. And they weren’t even my favorite; I actually preferred Spider-Man, about a klutzy, nerdy kid suddenly endowed with super strength and spectacular powers. Not sure why that one appealed to me so much.

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

Friday, September 22, 2006

So if you need me, I'll
be locked in the basement

OK, so there was a little "sophomore slump" going on over at "Desperate Housewives" last season. But it sounds like this year they might really be on to something.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Say one bad thing about Condoleezza Rice
and we're kicking your Venezuelan asno

Is anyone else peeved that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez referred to President Bush as 'the devil' on the floor of the U.N.? Not that Bush doesn't deserve to be kicked around, but it's sort of like when somebody picks on your annoying little brother: I can pick on him, 'cause he's my brother. You lay off or you've got a wedgie coming.

Of course, the whole thing may have been a misunderstanding. Some translators have suggested that Chavez actually was comparing Bush to deviled ham, and not unfavorably. There have also been reports that the comments didn't come from Hugo Chavez at all, but rather from Hugo, the Man of a Thousand Faces. I never trusted that guy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

And if someone can drop an anvil
on me afterwards, all the better

I'll admit to feeling a certain sense of ennui lately -- a lack of motivation, if you will, or a sense that I'm doing something truly productive with my time here on Earth. But now that I've read the inspiring story of Claudio Paulo Pinto, I finally have a goal in life: To pop my eyeballs .3 inches out of my head.

But I'm not one to rest on my laurels. Once I've mastered that, I'm planning on figuring out how to make my tongue unroll like a carpet, and then to set the world record for moving my feet comically in mid-air after running off a cliff.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

This week's column:
Family dinners could be dangerous

As if there weren't already enough pressure on American families, now people apparently want us to start eating meals together. What do they think we are? Rotarians?

I'm referring of course to "Eat Dinner With Your Children Day" on Sept. 25, when parents are supposed to gather their children around a table and eat with them. Presumably we're also supposed to make conversation, despite the fact that we have very little in common with these people. For instance, children almost never experience road rage.

If you ask me, it's presumptuous to mess with the time-honored tradition of families eating dinner in separate rooms, houses and, if necessary, time zones. And I ask you, is dinner really dinner if it hasn't been bought at a window and tossed to the little soccer players into the back seat, like an ichthyologist feeding piranhas?

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Here's that opening
Osama's been waiting for

It seemed like the greatest love of all, in a freaky, disturbing kind of way, but apparently Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown are calling it quits.

I don't know how this could have happened -- they seemed so happy going out to dinner together, and riding go-carts, and going out for more dinner, and playing video games, and shopping. On the other hand, she was high on drugs and he was alternately violent and incarcerated, so they did have their troubles.

As for "Being Bobby Brown," the Bravo Web site is now listing it -- forlornly, it seems to me -- among "past shows." Guess we'll have to make due with watching "Hollywood and Malibu real estate brokers go head-to-head" on "Million-Dollar Listing." Sigh ... Somehow it's not quite the same.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

This week's column:
And now, a word from your school

Dear Parent: Welcome to another school year! We have high expectations for 2006-07, despite what happened last year with the breaded cheesy fish. But just to make sure everyone is "on the same page," following are some announcements and reminders that we ask you to consider when sending your children to school this fall:

1) There is a new procedure for drop-off this year. Please note that cars are no longer permitted to stop in the loop; instead, it is recommended that you slow down and just give your child a little push out the passenger-side door. Please instruct them to attempt to land on their right side so that they roll onto the sidewalk.

2) The following items are not permitted on school grounds: blunt objects; knives or blades of any kind; nunchuks, throwing stars or other martial arts weaponry; firearms; peanuts.

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

This week's column:
And they call the wind annoying

I have to admit I’m torn over the whole Cape Wind proposal here in Massachusetts. On the one hand, we have all this wind just blowing around all the time -- for free! -- so it does make sense to do something with it. On the other hand, I don’t want to be staring at a bunch of wind turbines every time I take my yacht out on Nantucket Sound. Oh, wait a minute ... I don’t own a yacht. OK, I’m all for the idea!

Granted, the reality is not that simple. As with any controversy, there are two sides to the story. Specifically:

1) The developers. These are the people who are out to make millions of dollars any way they can, and if they wind up saddling the coast of Nantucket with a nearly useless industrial eyesore, that’s really just a bonus. I’m not saying they’re heartless, but it’s a known fact that the first thing they teach you in developer school is how to pick a project that will net you the largest profit while at the same time killing the most innocent puppies.

2) The residents. If you are a resident of Nantucket, you would probably rather pay extraordinary amounts of money to import power one electron at a time via trained carrier pigeons than to put up with a blight on your multi-million-dollar landscape. It’s bad enough to have to look out into Nantucket Sound on a foggy spring morning and see Ted Kennedy.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

'And did I tell you about the time Larry
King felt me up in the smoking lounge?'

In case you need further proof that it's Frank Drebin's world -- we just live in it, consider the sad case of CNN's Kyra Phillips, who brought her live mike into the ladies room Tuesday. Unlike Leslie Nielsen's hapless detective, she didn't broadcast her bathroom noises, which arguably might have been more riveting than the President Bush Katrina anniversary address she was drowning out.

Of course, she did malign the entire male gender except for her husband, who she told her bathroom companion was a "a really passionate, compassionate, great, great human being." That was a close call, although she probably wishes she hadn't called her sister-in-law a "control freak." On national TV.

Should be an interesting Thanksgiving at the Phillips house. They should sell tickets!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lying and stealing? That
doesn't sound like our Lil' Kim!

It’s one thing to accuse Lil’ Kim of perjury, or of being a skank. Because those things are true. But plagiarism … well, that’s just nasty.

Still, a Jamaican singer is accusing Kim stealing lyrics from her song “Mi and Mi God” for the Lil’ Kim song “Durty.” The case will be decided in court, but one thing seems certain: Neither of them can spell worth a damn.

It’s worth noting, though, that if the claims are true, Kim apparently wasn’t capable of writing the lyrics “The feds pinched me for shootin', but instead they indicted me for my %$#@! music, this jealous mutha%$#@! and this prosecutin' %$#@! %$#@!” herself. That seems surprising for the woman who was able to single-handedly bring back the pasty as a fashion accessory.

Monday, August 28, 2006

He probably just forgot that
they drive on the right over there

Yes, much fuss has been made over the Chinese woman who crashed her car while teaching her dog to drive. (Well, technically the dog crashed it, but I don't the he can be charged, even in China.) But there are a few salient facts that the naysayers have been remiss about mentioning:
  1. In a country that's been known to slaughter 50,000 dogs at a pop to prevent rabies, it's about time someone started teaching them how to make a quick getaway;
  2. The woman was still operating the gas and the brake -- all the darn dog had to do was steer;
  3. At least she didn't eat him.

This week's column:
A doom with a view

The world has always been a dangerous place. Just ask the Cro-Magnon man who bent over to tie his pelt only to be unceremoniously trampled by a woolly mammoth. In fact, back then if you got into your 20s without having been trampled by a mammoth, people started looking at you funny. "What, he's too good to get trampled?" they would say. I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel.

The thing is, back then, peopleexpected death to come raining down at a moment's notice. This was true as recently as the Industrial Revolution, when one in three people was crushed by heavy machinery, and the other two drowned in the middle of the street and fell into a vat of sausage parts, respectively.

I had hoped those times were behind us, but reading the headlines lately I can't help but think that maybe disaster is still lurking around every corner, and that we'd all be better off never, ever leaving our homes. (Don't laugh, I think I could really make a go of it -- I have cable.) So before you decide to show your face in public again, I'd ask that you consider these five very important impending-doom factors:

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

Friday, August 25, 2006

In related news, Patti has
run off with Pete Seeger

I'm praying that the rumors about Bruce Springsteen leaving Patti Scialfa for a 9/11 widow are not true. One, because Bruce and Patti seemed like such a nice happy couple, up on stage warbling "Mansion on the Hill" into the same microphone like they did. But moreso, because if it turns out to be true, somehow, for some reason, my wife will be mad at me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

At last we'll see which is the Master
Race! Wait ... that sounds bad.


OK, so "Survivor" can split up its contestants according to their race and will probably get millions of viewers and astronomical advertising revenues. And yet I do the same thing with the employees in my office, and I get slapped with a discrimination lawsuit. Life is not fair. ("OK, Hu, Lee, Nguyen, you're all over by the copier. What? What did I say?")

On the other hand, think of the future editions we now have to look forward to:

  • Religion Survivor (Christians vs. Jews vs. Muslims vs. Hindus);
  • Sexual Orientation Survivor (Straight vs. Gay vs. Bi vs. None of the Above);
  • Disability Survivor (Able-Bodied vs. Handicapped vs. Mentally Challenged vs. Severe Food Allergy);
  • Quirky Trait Survivor (Narcoleptic vs. Overly Affectionate vs. Prone to Panic Attacks vs. Painfully Uncoordinated).

Um ... That last one would be me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Oh, how cutAAAAAAAAAAAIIIEEEEE!!!!

Lest you be concerned that the health care industry is not attuned to the needs of its patients, I wanted to make you aware of the latest medical trend: Decorated needles for people afraid of shots. For instance, they'll put a big butterfly on the needle, so that when you see it headed straight for your vein you notice a big butterfly and not a sharp, scary needle. And you know what this will do, don't you? That's right: Make people scared to death of butterflies.

Why doesn't anybody ask my opinion before they do these things?

Monday, August 21, 2006

The greatest love of all? I think not


OK, let's get this straight: Osama bin Laden was plagued by an unrequited love for ... Whitney Houston?

Yes, according to a woman who was purportedly bin Laden's sex slave, "Whitney Houston's name was the one that would be mentioned constantly." Hmmm ... So that would have to mean he mentioned Whitney more than Allah. That little piece of news is not going to go over too well at the next Al Qaeda potluck.

Still, suddenly, it all makes sense. Unable to have his one true love, bin Laden instead became a global terror mastermind. That's actually fairly easy to believe compared to what the woman says were his favorite TV shows; OK, "Miami Vice" and "MacGyver" I can see, but "The Wonder Years"? ("A little piece of my childhood died that day ... Along with scores of infidel heathens! Now bring me my sex slave.")

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This week's column:
Your face may be almost famous

Do you ever get the sense that society would be better off if it weren’t so hard for people to find a celebrity who looked like them? Yes, me too. It’s enough to make you miss the days, back in the ’70s, when it was very easy to find a celebrity you resembled: Ernest Borgnine.

But somewhere along the line that changed, and it seems like there are no longer any celebrities who look like real people. For some reason Hollywood has determined that we want our celebrities to be so unnaturally attractive that, if they ever happened to run into us, the viewing public, they would assume we were trolls and rub our wizened faces for good luck.

Fortunately, someone is doing something about this situation. The Web site Myheritage.com has developed an online program to show us that, no matter how plain we may think we look, somewhere out there we all have a celebrity doppelganger -- that famous person for whom we might be mistaken, even if only in twilight by drunken people.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

OK, just put down that Mrs. Butterworth
and back away sloooooowly ...

Hold everything! Beyonce has announced that, contrary to her previous assertions, you should not -- we repeat, not -- try to lose weight by eating nothing but maple syrup. She recommends that you just go back to forcing yourself to throw up.

Wait, no, I read my notes wrong. She actually recommends that women "eat sensibly." Not that eating a combination of maple syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper up to 10 times a day isn't sensible. Especially if it's on pancakes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You have the right to remain stupid

For those of you who think there's no such thing as persistence anymore, take one look a the case of Kevin Holder, the Nebraska man who was arrested this week for the 226th time. A lesser man might have given up on crime after the first 150 or 200 arrests, but not Kevin, who seems convinced that if he keeps engaging in criminal mischief, violating restraining orders, assaulting people, resisting arrest and possessing cocaine and marijuana, eventually he'll get at least one of them right.

Kevin's predicament raises several salient points:
  1. That proposed "225 strikes and you're out" law is sounding pretty good about now.
  2. If Kevin keeps going he's bound to break the arrest record set by Otis Campbell of Mayberry, whose record is already in question due to the fact that he usually arrested himself, and was fictional.
  3. There really needs to be more to do in Nebraska.

Monday, August 14, 2006

This week's column:
Sportsmanship, schmortsmanship

You may have heard about the youth sports organization in Florida that has decided to require any parents who are disruptive on the sidelines to get official training in sportsmanship. Obviously, this is a very bad idea. How can we teach our kids the importance of winning if we're all going around being sporting to each other?

Apparently, that concept is lost on the National Alliance for Youth Sports of West Palm Beach, Fla., which is making parents sign a code of ethics that says they will "make only positive, encouraging comments to the players" and "place the emotional well-being of [their children] ahead of a personal desire to win." Next thing you know, they'll be asking us not to encourage our kids to think of opposing players as their mortal enemies.

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

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Funny, he didn't look kinkajouish

I'm still officially on vacation, but I had to take a moment to comment on the breaking news story that Paris Hilton has been bitten by her pet kinkajou. Immediately following, she reportedly yelled "F--ing kinkajous!" and blamed all the world's wars on them, at which point she was whisked into rehab and has since appealed to the kinkajou community to help her find the appropriate path for healing.

According to UPI, kinkajous are known for "their playful nature and their occasional spontaneous attacks on other animals," much like Nicole Richie.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

This week's column:
No kids TV? He can't Bear the idea

I went to the theater recently. It was a wry, moving production, reminiscent of late-period Shaw, if Shaw had written plays about talking animals. Think "Pygmalion," except with a real pig.

I’m talking of course about "Bear in the Big Blue House Live," which is just like the TV show "Bear in the Big Blue House," except it’s live, and the bear is right there in front of you. This garnered disparate reactions among my children; my daughter was enchanted, while her younger brother seemed concerned that the bear might at any moment walk into the audience and swallow him whole, which is much less likely to happen when you’re watching him on TV.

In the end, though, they both loved it, and I did too. But it did get me thinking about what kind of messages my kids are getting from some of these programs they enjoy so much. For instance, "educational" or not, I’ve always said I don’t want my kids watching a show featuring giant mutant space babies with TVs in their tummies. Yes, I’m referring to "Meet the Press."

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

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Or maybe he has to fight all the people who couldn't afford to live in Massachusetts

Well, they've announced the name of the new "Die Hard" movie: "Live Free or Die Hard." Plot details are sketchy, but we can only assume that it involves Bruce Willis' John McClane finding himself unexpectedly trapped in New Hampshire, where he has to take down a band of rogue bumpkins. And/or moose. (Well, if that's not the plot, it should be. I've been trapped in New Hampshire, and believe me, it was suspenseful.)

It's a good title, but not as good as some of the rejected names:
  • "Eat, drink and be Merry for Tomorrow we Die Hard"
  • "Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die Hard"
  • "If I Should Die Hard Before I Wake"
  • "Breaking Up is Die Hard to Do"
  • "A Die Hard Day's Night"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

That's because James Blunt is
harder to scrape off your shoe

This just in! In a recent U.K. poll of things people hate, James Blunt was deemed to be "more irritating than stepping in dog poo." You're beautiful, indeed.

Clearly the respondents were fans of Weird Al Yankovic.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Ah, the Jews hate grass. They
always have, they always will.

Poor Mel Gibson. It's unfortunate, but I guess in this day and age you can't make a movie that's widely derided as being anti-Semitic and then blurt drunken anti-Semitic slurs at a cop without people jumping to the conclusion that you're maybe a little bit anti-Semitic. People are just judgmental that way.

Personally, though, I think people are being way off base when they say that Gibson is nothing more than a Jew-hating neanderthal. For instance, he also hates homosexuals.

I do wonder what he was getting at, though, when he said to the arresting officer, "Astroturf? You know who's responsible for that, don't you?! The Jews!"

Sunday, July 30, 2006

This week's column:
To owe is human, to forgive divine

Did you know that the average Harvard Law School student graduates with $70,000 in debt? Most of that results from buying coffee in Harvard Square, but still, it’s excessive.

Fortunately, for the majority of those students this is not a problem, because they move immediately into cushy 90-hour-a-week jobs at Boston law firms with lots of oak in them. Their salaries at these firms cover their law school debts, with enough left over to purchase the finest meals the Kraft corporation has to offer.

But the rare few that decide they don’t want to be lawyers after all -- yes, you’re right, they must be deranged -- wind up having to take these jobs anyway, just to cover their loan payments. It’s a cruel fate for people who went to law school just to get their mothers off their backs about working at Kinkos.

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

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Celebrities are just like us, Vol. I

Random thoughts for the day:

  • Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson have announced that they're getting married four times, in France, California, Michigan and Tennessee. No word on how many divorces are in the works, but I'm thinking ... 12.
  • Metallica has finally caved in and offered up four of its albums on iTunes. Thank God! I'm sure this came as great news to all the Metallica fans who already downloaded those albums off of Napster in 2003.
  • Yes, David Hasselhoff was drunk when he was refused admittance to a British Airwaves flight on Wednesday. Drunk ... on his own freakish worldwide popularity! You'd have trouble walking too.