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.