Wednesday, January 27, 2010

COLUMN: Jay-OK! Meet the new Leno

Dear NBC: We hope you will seriously consider our offer to help rehabilitate the image of late-night comedy personality Jay Leno. We’ve offered our expert advice to many celebrities, such as Lindsay Lohan, O.J. Simpson and “Screech” from “Saved by the Bell,” and everyone knows how well things turned out for them.

We make this offer because, frankly, Jay is definitely in need of help. Our most recent survey numbers show him to be one of the most hated people in the world, ahead of both Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and just shy of Kathy Griffin from the E! Channel. The same poll shows that the only ones planning to watch him when he returns to 11:30 are nursing home residents who have no jurisdiction over the remote control, and who think he may possibly be Mike Douglas.

In contrast, nine out of 10 respondents gave Conan O’Brien, the man Leno displaced, a 98 percent or higher approval rating, which puts him on par with Jimmy Stewart, Mother Teresa and the Ninja Baby from YouTube. This is despite the fact that only two out of those 10 respondents ever watched his show.

So in order to get back in the good graces of the viewing public, it is our opinion that Jay should immediately undertake the following eight reparative actions:

1) On his first show back at 11:30, he should ask himself, “What the hell were you thinking?” For best results, he should first make sure to first get caught picking up a prostitute, and also, possibly, poisoning the water supply of a local preschool. Both of these would be an improvement on his current image.

2) He should surround himself by people who make him look classy and fair-minded by comparison, like Rod Blagojevich, the cast of “Jersey Shore” and, if available, Dick Cheney. (Note: Always make Cheney leave his rifle outside. Boy, did we learn that the hard way.)

3) Despite the brouhaha, people still have fond memories of Jay’s days as an affable stand-up comic in the 1980s. To evoke that period, he should have a plastic surgeon deflate him back to his 1980s size and shape, possibly by removing all the fluid that has apparently backed up inside his face.

4) Conan’s departure from the airwaves should leave Jay with the freedom to experiment with different types of comedy than what he’s done before. For instance, he should consider trying the kind where people laugh at the end. Just a thought.

5) Jay, an Andover, Mass. native, should drive to Boston in a truck and run for public office against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, which is apparently enough to make anybody almost breathtakingly popular. But he should definitely not pose nude for Cosmo, at least not until after they drain all those fluids.

6) Jay should expand the scope of his “Jaywalking” segment beyond the obtuse people he usually mocks. For instance, maybe he could start berating 6-year-old girls for not knowing long division, or tripping mentally challenged people. Now, that’s Leno-style comedy!

7) He should introduce more bits based on grisly murders, like his groundbreaking O.J. material back in the ’90s. Remember the Dancing Itos? You don’t? Well, you’ve probably just suppressed them deep into your subconscious as a defense mechanism.

8) Or he may want to do what he probably should have done right off the bat, which is leave gracefully with his hundreds of millions of dollars and 14,000 cars, and let O’Brien have a chance. There are plenty of other platforms Jay could explore without kicking Conan to the curb.

Although if he pursues YouTube, he should proceed with caution. We think that Ninja Baby could kick his butt.

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A female Weird Al? Nobody tells me anything

OK, how did I not know that, right here in my own backyard (if my backyard happened to be in Brockton, which it isn't, thank God), we have a woman who has basically established herself as the female "Weird Al" Yankovic? Which brings to mind a mental image that I'm frankly not prepared to deal with.

But it's true, reports the Brockton Enterprise: Jodie-Amy Rivera is apparently the hottest video parodist since Al first uttered "Eat It":
Rivera’s one-woman show — she directs, shoots, edits and stars in her own works — earns her about 11 million YouTube views per month. She is the site’s No. 1 most-subscribed female since surpassing teen star Miley Cyrus in 2008.

Her music video, “7 Things Guys Don’t Have To Do,” a parody of Cyrus’ “7 Things I Hate About You,” was named one of the top 10 viral videos of 2008 by PC World Magazine.

Did you hear that? She's bigger than Miley. I didn't even think that amount of big was possible.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Monday: Latest Bin Laden Tape Takes Credit For Jay Leno

WASHINGTON (CAP) - In an audiotape broadcast today on Arab television, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden claimed full responsibility for comedian Jay Leno.

"It is not fair that you should enjoy quality late-night humor while our brothers around the world are experiencing comedy of the most miserable level," Bin Laden said in his message, apparently addressing Americans directly. "Based on this, with the permission of God, we will continue to inflict Jay Leno upon you until the suffering of our people abates."

The announcement is the latest of a rash of bad publicity for the late-night host, who even before the al Qaeda announcement had been named "the most hated man in the world" in recent polls from CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, TV Guide and Octane magazine, an auto publication that runs a column by Leno.

"Used to run," clarified Octane editor Max Cargswell. "We hate him now."

Leno has also been blamed, by various sources, for the swine flu, the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, and global warming.

"The man owns 14,000 cars. You don't think they're contributing to the hole in the ozone layer?" asked former Vice President al Gore at a New York City fundraiser for the Alliance for Climate Protection. "Ooh, I just hate him."

The crowd at the $500-a-plate dinner then started chanting "CoCo, CoCo, CoCo," in reference to displaced Tonight show host Conan O'Brien, and "burned" a cardboard cutout of Leno by illuminating it with fluorescent light bulbs.

TV psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, in an interview with Us Weekly, says the dramatic turnaround in public opinion toward Leno may be unprecedented. "He was thought of for years as this nice, funny, middle-of-the-road guy, and suddenly people are equating him to the likes of Hitler, Genghis Khan, Dick Cheney," noted McGraw. "I wonder how that's working out for him."

"It's not so much that people hate him now, it's the unbridled vehemence of the hate I find scary," said McGraw. "Not that it's misplaced - I'd kill him with my bare hands if I got the chance."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

COLUMN: Have you hugged a detainee today?

As you know, President Obama’s first year in office has been considered a tremendous success, especially for the people who make “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Hillary” bumper stickers. So I’m sure his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center will go perfectly fine, and any detainees who are released will immediately become productive (i.e., not homicidal) members of society.

This is presumably the thinking of some aldermen in Newton, Mass., where they proposed an official resolution to welcome such former detainees with open arms. (The phrase “it’s my privilege to extend to you a laurel and hearty handshake” comes to mind.) Others argue that local aldermen shouldn’t be getting involved in “international issues,” because it’s just a small step from welcoming detainees to bombing North Korea. I’m paraphrasing.

Fortunately, the debate on the proposal has been civil, with most residents attending a public hearing on the matter with either a torch or a pitchfork, but not both. Declared one Newtonian (Newtonite?) of the detainees, “They want to behead and explode our children, grandchildren, friends and parents and us!” That’s right: behead and explode. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Just to revisit a little bit of the history, Guantanamo is a U.S. military prison in Cuba where, since 2002, we’ve been putting suspected terrorists until we could figure out what do to with them. The Justice Department advised the Bush administration that it’s officially outside U.S. legal jurisdiction, meaning we could imprison suspects without the evidence we’d need on American soil, but only, and this is very important, “if they look at us funny.”

But Obama apparently has some kind of a problem with locking up people without any evidence, even if those people aren’t Americans — that’s just the type of Nigerian-born fake president he is. So a lot of people will be released and cleared for entry into the U.S., but would an official resolution to welcome them here be the best approach? Let’s consider the pros:

1. It would show we have no hard feelings after locking them up all those years for no reason.

2. It would add diversity to communities like Newton, which, according to the 2000 census, has almost no terrorists. (Sorry, I meant to say Newton has no “enemy belligerents” … although anyone who was at that public hearing might disagree.)

And now the cons:

1. Maybe these guys weren’t locked up for no reason, and they will set upon planning to annihilate us the minute we present them with their complimentary Prius and the keys to their Newton Highlands condo.

2. See No. 1.

Still, I’m sure these detainees are all perfectly nice people, or at least they were before we locked them up and waterboarded them for seven years. For instance, the particular detainee at the heart of the Newton controversy was alleged to be a member of terrorist group Lashkar al-Tayyibi, but has said he worked in a “legally operated charitable wing” of the organization. See, I bet you didn’t even know terrorist groups had charitable wings. Sort of a “Bombers Without Borders.”

Anyway, I’ll be very curious to see how it all plays out in Newton. I personally can appreciate both sides of the issue, and can only hope that, if nothing else, the situation inspires an NBC sitcom in which a Guantanamo detainee (Wilmer Valderrama) is officially welcomed into a small liberal town, except everywhere he goes (the coffee shop, the DMV, to get his hair cut, etc.), people scream and dive under their desks. Or maybe a Fox sitcom, where he moves into a town where all the women have tremendous bosoms. Either would get better ratings than Jay Leno.

As for the Newton detainee, I wish him the best of luck, and if he winds up moving there I have high hopes for him becoming a vital, contributing member of that community. But if he runs for alderman, I recommend they keep him away from North Korea.

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Right after he said, 'Martha, WTF?????'

Just saw this in a release about from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the outcome of tonight's Senate election in Mass.:
“The President thanked Attorney General Coakley for her hard work and urged her to continue her advocacy on behalf of working people."
Riiiiight. I'm sure that's exactly what he said to her.

Monday, January 18, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Monday: Re-animated Ted Kennedy Endorses Martha Coakley

BOSTON (CAP) - Republican officials are questioning the validity of the last-minute endorsement of Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley by the re-animated corpse of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

"My friends, I ask you to join in this historic journey - to have the courage to choose change," said Kennedy at a rally at the Park Plaza Hotel, flanked by two large security personnel who seemed to be holding him up. "It is time again for a new generation of leadership. It is time now for ..."

At that point a voice that sounded similar to Kennedy's, but also not unlike that of Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons, shouted out "Martha Coakley!" A survey of video from the event shows that Kennedy's lips failed to move during the entire length of the presentation.

"I don't know, it just seems fishy to me," said RNC Chairman Michael Steele, whose party is banking on a Republican victory to derail President Obama's health care vote. "The way he was propped up, and didn't move his lips, and used the exact same words as his endorsement of Obama ... something's just not adding up.

"Also the rotting flesh," he added.

Still, Kennedy's resurrection and subsequent endorsement of Coakley, the state's attorney general, seems to have gone a long way toward energizing the Democratic base in Massachusetts.

"I think it says something about the importance of this race that Sen. Kennedy was willing to come back from the dead to express his opinion," said Cindy Markenson of Brookline, Mass. Markenson, a lifelong Democrat, said she'd actually been leaning toward Republican candidate Scott Brown because Coakley is "so dull that just looking at her actually makes my molars ache."

But now, the dead Kennedy has convinced her to rethink her position.

"It was very moving, his speech, and the way he would lift his arm to wave in tandem with his security personnel, and how he even took time to go water skiing from the back of his yacht even though it's January," she said. "Kind of unfortunate how he kept bouncing off those buoys, though."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

COLUMN: You say you want a resolution?

You’ll recall how around this time last year, I resolved that in 2009 I would become “a spectacularly wealthy icon of material success.” As you may have gathered, things didn’t quite work out that way, or else instead of typing this I’d be out stomping on all the little people.

Yes, I was once again frustrated by my own lack of ability to keep a simple New Year’s resolution. This is a common problem, since New Year’s resolutions are actually just little lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about facing the coming year. You know, things like “I’m going to lose weight!” or “I’m going to get organized!” or “People like me!”

So instead of shooting for some pie-in-the-sky goal like good health or better work habits, I decided that this year I’d resolve to be more realistic, and try for the following:

1) Watch more TV. I used to love TV; I loved TV like a seagull loves a half-eaten bag of Cheetos, or like Lady Gaga loves walking around with entire live animals on her head. As a kid, I looked forward with breathless anticipation to the edition of the TV Guide that previewed all the new Saturday morning cartoons; I would sit there for hours with a Magic Marker circling the shows I planned to watch, until it was time for the neighborhood jocks to come to my house and give me noogies.

But sadly, I’ve somehow gotten away from television — for the first time in my life, there’s no show that I watch regularly. This is because my prime-time hours are now spent getting the kids to bed, working on various side projects (such as the comic strip I’m developing about a cat who loves lasagna), and writing my novel, by which I mean, “illegally downloading music.” And also, I’m concerned that TV now stinks like Fred Sanford’s backyard.

Still, I hear shows like “Mad Men,” “True Blood” and “Modern Family” are all worth my time, even if none of them happens to feature a character named Wojciehowicz. (I also have high hopes for this “Jersey Shore” program. It looks classy.) So if you need me, I’ll be on the couch, remote in hand. The kids can get themselves to bed for a change.

2) Eat more. Every year I make the mistake of resolving to eat less — specifically, less cake, less cookies, less pizza with sausage and meatballs, less deep fried seafood, french fries and onion rings washed down by a giant glass of Coke with ice … Mmm, onion rings and Coke … I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

Oh, right, eating less. Whenever I resolve on Jan. 1 that from here on in nothing will cross my lips that isn’t green and leafy, by Jan. 2 my stomach cavity is reverberating like Chuck Barris is down there banging on a little gong. By the 3rd I’m starting to picture skinny people as giant hot dogs and heavy people as hamburgers, like castaways in a Looney Tunes cartoon, and by the end of the week I’ve woken up naked in the bakery aisle at DeMoulas, surrounded by crumpled Ring Ding wrappers and knowing that something’s gone horribly wrong.

So this year I’m going to go the opposite route and pledge to eat just a little bit more of everything, so I don’t wind up eating too much of any one thing. And as for the extra calories, I’m going to make up for them by doing more exercise! By which I mean, “illegally downloading music.”

3) Be less organized. Every year I resolve to eliminate the eight to 12 piles of old memos, outdated printouts and vintage newspapers that have taken up residence on my desk, or at least to give them helpful names to remember them by. (This way when I need something I can say to myself, “Ah, I think I left that one in Fred,” etc.)

Since by the end of the year I invariably have more piles than when I started, I’ve decided this year to abandon any semblance of order and spend the year gradually devolving into chaos. In fact, all this making of deadlines and naming of piles may be exactly what’s holding me back — if I free myself up from the psychic manacles of conventional organization, I may actually have the wherewithal I need to truly excel. Maybe even become a spectacularly wealthy icon of material success.

Also, “People like me!”

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Is it me, or are the criminals getting better looking?

A sure sign of a suffering economy: more attractive criminals.

Used to be you’d see those faces staring out at you from the signs in the post office and you could see why they’d turned to a life of crime. With their crusty, wizened visages, what else were these people going to go into? You could see them walking into a career councilor and being immediately steered toward larceny.

But lately — as evidenced by the Quincy (Mass.) Patriot Ledger’s excellent “Mass Most Wanted” series — more and more of them are looking young, happy and well-adjusted. Did these people really need to break the law? It looks like they’d do fine as yoga instructors or baristas.

But with those jobs scarce these days, I guess they’re going in to pickpocketing and identity theft, not to mention bank robbing. At least some of them are turning themselves in after turning up in the Patriot Ledger — and after they get out of the can, they can always try modeling.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

COLUMN: Not the 2009 I had in mind

As my regular readers know, every January I like to look back on my annual predictions from a year ago to see whether my keen journalistic insight had served me well in that exercise. And yes, I for some reason insist on continuing to use the word “keen,” despite all the evidence to the contrary.

So let’s see what I had predicted about 2009:

1)“The economy will come roaring back as the stimulus plan creates millions of new jobs and Wall Street bankers embrace sensible new practices.” Um … I may have been a year early on that. Other things I said would come roaring back: Saturns, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the band Kiss and rotary phones.

2) Bizarre outfits, about a dozen different wigs and thumping dance beats will spell success for the one and only Taylor Hicks.” I was close: It turns out that formula was actually the ticket to the top for Lady Gaga, not Hicks, who opted to stick with his tried-and-true “Huey Lewis on Ritalin” image and sold only 37,000 albums. I was closer on my prediction about Kanye West, who I said would attack Taylor Swift with a Super Squirter and be wrestled to the ground by Beyonce and Bruce Hornsby.

3) Couple of the Year will no doubt be Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin, with proud mom-in-law Sarah embracing Levi as a shining example of someone who lives up to his responsibilities.” Not quite, although Sarah Palin did wind up wanting to embrace Johnston in a windpipe-crushing chokehold. I did predict accurately that her book would be full of incomplete sentences, but that’s sort of a gimme.

4) “Teenagers will use their ubiquitous cell phones to text thoughtful, pithy poems, resulting in the creative resurgence of the haiku.” Replace “poems” with “naked pictures of themselves” and “haiku” with “homemade stag film” and I was dead on.

5) In a remarkable show of bipartisanship, President Obama’s health-care proposal will sail through Congress without a single Republican accusing him of trying to murder old people.” Don’t know how I didn’t see that one coming.

6) “No dowdy, middle-aged singers with funny hair will score a hit record.” Darn you, Susan Boyle — I thought I was pretty safe with this one, unless Rod Stewart had another comeback. But I was right when I predicted this would be the year of Michael Jackson’s big career resurgence. Well, sort of half-right.

7) “Wholesome family man Tiger Woods will wind up on the cover of ‘Faithful Husband’ magazine.” I was way off here — turns out there is no such magazine. But I do hear Tiger is slated to share the cover of next month’s “Cheating Horndog,” along with David Letterman, John Edwards and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, if anyone can find him.

8) “Health experts will step up efforts to encourage women to get more frequent mammograms, catching and curing thousands of incidents of breast cancer.” OK, so they did exactly the opposite — turns out they’d prefer if women just asked the screeners at the full-body airport scanners if they see anything unusual. In my other health predictions, I was also wrong when I said that most of the human population would be annihilated by swine flu, that a zombie plague would sweep the planet and that the world would end in an orgy of computer-generated special effects and John Cusack.

9) Jason Bay will ink a deal to play with the Red Sox until the end of time.” In fairness, this one came from my 8-year-old son, whose undying devotion Jason sold out for an extra $6 million and a fifth-year option, plus his eternal soul. I was also wrong when I predicted that Tom and Gisele would have a baby and name it “Eli Manning Brady.”

10) “President Obama will be universally hailed for the stunning success of the stimulus plan, the health-care reform initiative, and the removal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Er … I meant to say that he would get a dog.

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”

Monday, January 04, 2010

AT LARGE Fake New Monday: Nation's Perverts Endorse Full-Body Airport Scanners

RENO, Nev. (CAP) - America's largest organized group of perverts and degenerates has released a statement wholeheartedly supporting plans to install full-body scanning equipment in the nation's airports.

"Any device that can prevent terrorism while at the same time allowing you to see through people's clothes is A-OK in our book," said Nigel Friedrichsen, president of the Reno-based National Association of Perverts (NAP). "That's the definition of win-win. Um ... At least our definition."

The scanners have been highly controversial, with some civil libertarians claiming the devices violate travelers' privacy by performing a "virtual strip search."

"Yes, it's true the scans do expose the full bodies of the travelers who pass through them," noted Friedrichsen. "Screeners would be able to see, say, under the brassieres of women age 16 to 35. Or into their underpants ... their frilly, lacey underpants ... Mm ... I'm sorry, what were we talking about?"

He then noted that the public shouldn't be concerned, since only airport screeners would be privy to the scans. He did acknowledge, though, that "almost 90 percent of our membership has already applied, including myself."

Also coming forward in support of the scanners is the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which is lobbying for the scanning procedure to apply to children as well as adults.

"They younger, the better," said NAMBLA spokesman Bradley "Uncle Brad" White. "You never know what one of those little boys might have hidden in his briefs. No matter how long and hard you may have tried to guess."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]