Thursday, December 27, 2007

At Large Special: What's In and What's Out for 2008

Let’s face it: It’s harder than ever to keep up with what’s in and what’s out in this ever-changing world. Fads take off and burn out before you even have a chance to notice them, raising the question: If a fad burns out in the forest and people are too busy programming their DVRs to notice, is it still a fad?

Be that as it may, you can stop worrying: Your guide to society, politics, fashion, the arts and life in general is here. Just be forewarned — these may all have changed by 180 degrees by the time you read this. Flip-flopping is in.

See the regular version here, or (for you brave souls with enough bandwith) the entire 7 MB PDF package here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

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 productions of “A Christmas Carol,” including 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.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This week's column:
Don't let holiday stress go to your head

As you may have heard, the holidays are a stressful time. For instance, there’s the stress of accidentally referring to them as something other than “the holidays” and offending someone who actually celebrates, say, Boxing Day. Boxers are notoriously touchy.

But that’s not the only source of holiday stress. There’s also a lot of financial anxiety, particularly in my household where we’ve made a pledge not to use our credit cards for holiday shopping this year. This is proving problematic, unless we can turn up retailers willing to exchange gifts for colorful beads. Or perhaps you’re anxious about how your neighbors had, by Thanksgiving, meticulously placed thousands of tasteful holiday decorations around their property, while your single strand of shag lights remains tangled in your garage, possibly inhabited by rabbits.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If only they'd mentioned something sooner

'Tis the season -- no, not for holiday cheer, although I've heard tell of that too. I'm referring to the annual announcement of the wackiest warning label! Yes, it's here already.

And this year's is a keeper: A label on a small tractor that warns, "Danger: Avoid Death." I like how it has almost a homespun quality, like something your old Pappy might have imparted from his front-porch rocker before your first go-around with the family thresher.

And it of course serves its ultimate purpose, which is to avoid a lawsuit. Not so all those other products that don't include a warning against their death-causing properties, namely ... well, anything that can be half-swallowed, dropped on your head from a great height or accidentally inserted into an artery.

The other winners include "Do not iron while wearing shirt" and "Do not put child in bag," but I'm still waiting for the one that says "Danger: You are an idiot." Actually, that would make a good T-shirt.

Monday, December 03, 2007

This week's column:
Some Santa ho-ho's and no-no's

To: Mall Santas
From: Management

Welcome aboard in your new role as one of “Santa’s Helpers.” Please review the following guidelines carefully, so that the mall and its patrons can have a happy, healthy and non-litigious holiday season.

1.) As you’ve no doubt heard, “Ho Ho Ho” is no longer considered an acceptable holiday greeting, having been deemed potentially offensive to women and gardeners. The substitute “Ha Ha Ha” has also been banned, as it is possibly damaging to a child’s self-esteem. Also, Santas overheard saying “Merry Christmas” will be summarily removed from the premises.

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