Wednesday, March 31, 2010

COLUMN: Movies now a rip-off in three dimensions

When I was a kid, our family went to the movies a lot. But I don’t think my parents did this to foster a love of the cinema, or else they wouldn’t have taken us t a Disney double feature of “Song of the South” (one of the few films to achieve the elusive combination of being both racist and boring) and “Condorman” (you can Google it).

No, they did it because movies were something you could do with a family of five and still have enough money left to buy groceries and electricity. This was back when you could go to a family film with less than $50 in your pocket — today you could only do that if you left the kids in the car, which is frowned upon. Still, until recently you could still get away with not spending a fortune if you took certain steps, such as going to an early matinee, and sneaking in the candy in plastic baggies taped to your torso.

But keeping costs down is about to get harder, with the news that admission for 3-D movies has just gone up 20 percent. And I’m sure this will soon apply to all movies, since apparently if you don’t make your movie in 3-D these days, James Cameron will come to your house and kick you in the knees.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal just cited a theater I’ve been to often — the AMC in Danvers, Mass. — as the poster child for the price increases, with 3-D tickets shooting up to $17.50. (That would be for one.) So if we do the math, we’re talking a good $70 ($70!) just for admission, and an easy $30-plus for popcorn, nachos and a Coke that strains the sides of the cup holder like Kevin Smith in a coach seat.

But surely the modern 3-D movie is worth the $100-plus you’ll drop during those two hours at the cinema? Well, let’s see what Roger Ebert had to say about it on Twitter: “3-D,” wrote Ebert, “is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices.” Hmm … Maybe he’s just saying that because he got cheated out of seeing the fish pâté pop off the table in “My Dinner with Andre.”

It’s tempting to dismiss Ebert as some Luddite traditionalist, but that’s hard to argue about a guy who’s on Twitter 24 hours a day. Besides, I know that if I had paid $17.50 to see “G-Force,” which is basically a 90-minute demonstration (in three dimensions) of how gerbils have bowel problems just like the rest of us, I would have returned my 3-D glasses stained with my own tears, had I not hidden them in my coat so I could wear them to the beach this summer.

It wouldn’t be as depressing if movies weren’t just one of many formerly economical pastimes soon to be out of reach of people with incomes still in the five figures. Like bowling, where they now charge you by the hour so they can factor in the 10 minutes it takes you to get the knots out of your shoelaces, or video arcades, where you have to spend $20 just to bribe the carnies not to kidnap you.

Still, not every theater has gone over to the dark side — I just took my son to Cinema 95 in Salisbury, Mass., which appears to be owned by actual humans, and two tickets for “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” came to just $13. It was in glorious 2-D, which means none of the boogers flew out of the screen at me. I’d have been willing to pay extra for that.

But if eventually all movies are 3-D and charge so much for the privilege that we only get to go once or twice a year, I guess it will be time to find something else to do, like stand in Best Buy and watch whatever’s showing on the display models. Or maybe just joining Netflix for $8.99 and watching whatever they send us at home.

At least there we can keep the gerbils at a safe distance.

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, March 30, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Tuesday: Justin Bieber Nearly Snuffed By Slime At Kids' Choice Awards

LOS ANGELES (CAP) - In a bizarre accident on live television, tween pop idol Justin Bieber was knocked into a puddle of "slime" at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and almost drowned.

"We knew the puddle was there, but we didn't think it was deep enough to endanger anyone," said telecast producer Frank Haliman. But apparently producers didn't take into account Bieber, who is "just a little over four feet tall and very delicate," noted Haliman.

Bieber had just finished performing on the show when an errant stream of "slime" - the network's signature green goo, actually made of oil, house paint and recycled lard - grazed the singer, pushing his little body into the goo pool.

"I feel bad we didn't better consider the Bieber factor," said Haliman, noting a similar incident happened during the dress rehearsal, when a particularly strong gust from the building's HVAC system "blew little Bieber face-first into the kid who plays Gibby on iCarly."

Bieber's near-drowning was one of two serious slime-related incidents on the show - singer Katy Perry opened a box expecting to find the name of an award winner, and instead was hit square in the face by a torrent of slime shot out of an industrial strength fire hose.

"It seemed like a funny idea in the writer's meeting," said Haliman, admitting however that the Nickelodeon writers "do so much blow it's hard to go by anything they come up with."

Perry had to have more than a pint of slime removed from her nasal cavity and, according to her agent, Mitch Rosemont, has had difficulty singing in key since the incident. "Even more so than usual, I mean," said Rosemont.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

The AT LARGE Friday Link Roundup

It's been a while since I've posted a bulleted list of the seven most important things on the Internet at this very minute. Here they are:

Oy! The 100 Greatest Jewish Movie Moments.

See -- it happens to everybody: The Funniest Newspaper Corrections.

To think, without Twitter I never would have seen Robots at Seder. (Thanks to @LaurelSnyder.)

They're going to have a hard time explaining this one back at headquarters: Behold, the police-car eating dogs.

Mind if I bum a Tolstoy?

Out of antihistamines? Stare at this for a while and it should make you plenty woozy.

And finally, if we all hope and pray hard enough, this movie may become real:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

COLUMN: Phone for kids is a tough cell

So how did I become one of those parents? You know, the kind who are always telling their kids about how tough times were back when we were young, when we only had five TV channels, and there were no DVRs, and the phones were all tethered to the wall by odd springy cables. If anyone who lived through the Depression ever hears me talking like that, you have my permission to walk over and whack me with your cane.

Still, that’s just what I find myself doing when my 10-year-old daughter insists that she wants — wait, scratch that — she needs a cell phone, despite the fact that, as far as I can tell, there’s no one she needs to talk to; she certainly doesn’t have any interest in acknowledging the existence of our house phone. (Of course, neither do I — whatever those callers want from me, it’s probably nothing good.)

No, apparently what she needs to have is the (presumably God-given) ability to text, along with various other “smartphone” extras. This is a fairly foreign concept to me, since until my company issued me a Blackberry as part of its plan to bind me to my job like Gulliver was tied down to the beach by the Lilliputians, I had a phone that basically just made phone calls. Apparently it could text, but I never used that function because, one, my thumbs were too large, and two, you couldn’t text for a pizza, which comprised my central use for the device.

In fact, when I showed the phone to my daughter and my 13-year-old nephew, they looked at it sort of like people in the ’70s must have looked at pet rocks. (Yes kids, that’s how tough my childhood was — our pets were rocks!) It’s a nice little novelty, they seemed to be thinking, but it doesn’t really DO anything.

But her request has me more than a little torn. On the one hand, I managed to survive my childhood with no means of outside communication whatsoever, save the occasional pay phone. On the other hand, giving my daughter a cell phone would be a good start to my plan for her as a teenager, which is to have her wired for sound like an FBI stoolie.

And it’s not like we’re not already on our way to being a technologically enhanced family. My son, who’s 8, somehow sweet-talked his way into getting a “PSP” this Christmas, which is a device that can house music, videos, photos and videogames featuring actual tiny little humans. After seeing only the top of my son’s head for days, we had to come up with some PSP ground rules, such as no more playing when it became apparent that he’d entered a trance-like state, and no bringing it in the kitchen so he wouldn’t wind up covering it with ketchup. (We had to institute that last rule for pretty much everything.)

As for my daughter, we’ve reached a temporary compromise that if she goes out with a friend and needs to keep in touch, she can take my old pet rock phone. And if she goes over the texting limit she has to pay the charges out of the allowance we give our kids as a thank-you for the short breaks when we’re not acting as their butler.

Sure, it’s no “smartphone,” but it does the job, and its inadequacy will give her something she’ll eventually be able to complain to her kids about. If she can learn how to communicate in their strange telepathic squeaks, that is.

This column appeared originally in West of Boston Life Magazine and 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.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wait, this isn’t at all how the party in ‘Risky Business’ turned out

For the latest evidence that teenagers have yet to fully evolve, you need look no further than East Bridgewater, Mass., where a couple took a Paris vacation and left their 16-year-old son behind. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
The East Bridgewater couple found blood and urine smeared on the floors and walls, basketball-sized holes in the walls, an antique sofa had been set on fire, marble counter tops were cracked, flour was stuffed down the toilets, doors were pulled down and windows were smashed.
That's not to mention the jewelry, electronics, golf clubs and other items allegedly stolen from the house, some of which teens were reportedly trying to fence at the high school this week. Whatever happened to guests just sending a nice thank-you card?

Meanwhile, some teens who were there say the $45,000 in massive damage and theft is all being taken out of proportion:
Peterson said he was invited over to the house for a party, but didn’t do anything except punch a hole in the ceiling.
And I'm sure if the invitation had said anything about not punching holes in the ceiling, he would have limited his activity to the jewelry theft and furniture burning.

On the plus side, unlike Risky Business, there have been no reports of area hookers using the house as a brothel. Yet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Tuesday: Bullock Scandal May Damage Image Of Tattooed Skanks

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - News that Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock's husband Jesse James cheated on her with tattoo model and amateur porn star Michelle "Bombshell" McGee threatens to damage the reputation of trashy tattooed women everywhere, according to some prominent skanks.

"It's bullcrap! Now everywhere I go, people look at me like I'm some kind of nasty pig," said Tawny Chmielewski, 32, an exotic dancer from Bayone, N.J., who has tattoos of snakes, skulls and bleeding hearts covering both arms and legs and flames shooting up the side of her neck. "Even more than usual, I mean."

Chmielewski's concerns are well grounded, according to a new study out of the Pew Research Center.

"The approval rating for trashy skanks has dropped six points in the past week," noted Dr. Francis Spitznagel, who conducted a flash poll on the subject at the Pew Center. "It went from 8 percent all the way down to 2."

But Chmielewski and others like her say that just because McGee carried on an affair with the husband of America's sweetheart and took $30,000 from In Touch Weekly to dish about it doesn't mean that all women with full-body tattoos and breast implants are similarly skanky.

"I know I don't shack up with just anybody," said Chmielewski. "He has to be hot and well-endowed, and have some bitchin' tats." Asked if she would sleep with a married man, she replied, "No effin way! Well ... it kind of depends on his tats."

Fred Shambertz, editor of In Touch Weekly, also defended McGee, noting that James had indicated to the tattoo model the he and Bullock were separated. "Michelle is the victim in all this," said Shambertz. "The skanky, fake-breasted tattooed victim who got paid $30,000 to talk about her sex life."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Get back to me when they invent injectable chocolate

You may recall how a few years back, some people were all in a tizzy about the introduction into Massachusetts of Alcohol Without Liquor (AWOL) machines, which were devices that turn alcohol into a mist so you can inhale it. I guess it turns out they didn't have much to worry about, since AWOL bars, featuring roomfuls of hipster drinkers with airplane oxygen masks strapped over their mouths, didn't exactly take the country by storm. Apparently, people felt like it wasn't liquor if you didn't feel logy and bloated afterwards.

Well, I think some folks from Harvard have figured out how to make the whole breathable products business work: They've invented "Le Whif," which allows you to breathe such addictive pleasures as chocolate and coffee. Which, let's face it, is what we'd all have been doing with chocolate and coffee for years if it weren't for the risk of choking and drowning.

According to a press release, Le Whif – made in collaboration with ArtScience Labs – uses particle engineering to form chocolate and coffee in microscopic sizes that are small enough to become airborne, though too large to enter the lungs.

Supposedly it will quench your desires without the calories, says inventor and Harvard professor David Edwards, who noted, “This has Cambridge written all over it." Presumably alluding to the fact that if you're spotted in places like Lawrence or Brockton, Mass. inhaling your coffee through a lipstick tube, a beat-down will ensue.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

COLUMN: A blanket statement on marriage

It’s common knowledge that marriage is hard work. Although not my marriage, which involves round-the-clock bliss and paradise with my lovely wife, who reads this column.

But most marriages are tough, mainly because of all the things they don’t tell you before you tie the knot. Things like the fact that your spouse may be a slob, or be more interested in the football playoffs than taking care of the kids, or lack even the most basic vestiges of common sense. OK, it’s mostly the women who don’t get told things.

And apparently there’s at least one other thing nobody warns spouses about: smells. You would think that by the time you marry somebody you’d have figured out what the person smells like, but this fails to take into account that when you first date someone, you’re on your best behavior, smell-wise. Besides, smells might be one of those things that change as you get older, like hair sprouting from places you’d previously have expected only in a David Cronenberg movie. (You know who you are.)

Which brings me to Francis Bibbo, a science teacher and inventor of the “Better Marriage Blanket.” According to a press release from Bibbo, the blanket provides ammunition against “romanticus interruptus,” which I suppose would be anything that might ruin a romantic moment between husband and wife. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen would be to take the blanket, wrap the husband in it, and throw him in the river.

But that’s probably going too far. Turns out Bibbo is speaking specifically of protecting spouses from untoward emissions that might make things unpleasant in the boudoir. He based his blanket on military chemical suits, going on the theory that members of the military very rarely complain about how each other smell when they’re under nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

But let’s face it, the Better Marriage Blanket is a daring thing for somebody to invent, because it’s hard not to assume that Bibbo’s own marriage is a regular smell factory. One pictures Mrs. Bibbo making tearful, frantic calls to her mother, a clothespin affixed tightly to her nose, as Mr. Bibbo wanders through the house emitting wavy lines that are actually visible to infrared cameras.

But it turns out that Bibbo got the idea not from his own marriage but from his trips deer hunting, when he apparently wore a military chemical suit to keep the deer from smelling him. I imagine he cut quite a profile standing there in the woods with his bow and arrow, wearing a full-body activated carbon fabric suit designed to trap in all his smells. You could spot him by looking for the deer, squirrels and other hunters backing away verrrry slooowly.

So Bibbo eventually got the idea to turn the suit into a blanket, to be used in places where people are likely to emit odors they’d rather other people didn’t smell, like TV rooms, hospitals, planes, cruise ships, dorms and senior citizen homes, where they should probably affix them to every bare surface, like smell-absorbing wallpaper. He even foresees its use in the space shuttle, where astronauts can finally stop blaming the solid rocket boosters.

But it’s primarily for couples who want to keep their smells to themselves. “If you are going to need a blanket to stay warm, you may as well have one that absorbs odors,” Bibbo points out. No word on whether the blanket will also muffle the potential noise pollution that could accompany smells and thus spoil a romantic moment, or whether you have to deal with that the old-fashioned way, by playing “Freebird” at a high volume.

No matter what, though, I’m sure Mr. Bibbo is right that his invention will improve marriages. In fact, I recommend that every husband run right out and buy the anti-smell blanket for his wife, and present it to her on their next anniversary. And let’s hope that activated carbon fabric floats long enough for the Coast Guard to pluck him out of the river.

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, March 16, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Tuesday: Lady Gaga Video Leads Everybody To Apologize To Madonna

LOS ANGELES (CAP) - The new music video for the song Telephone, featuring Lady Gaga and Beyonce as scantily dressed, highly sexualized lesbian mass murderers, has watchdog groups and religious organizations apologizing for their criticisms of Madonna during the 1980s and '90s.

"I sort of can't believe now that I got all over Madonna's case for Dress You Up (in 1985)," said Tipper Gore, co-founder of the Parents Music Resource Center, after watching the Telephone video in slack-jawed amazement. "Say what you want about Madonna, she never crawled up the bars of a prison cell to show off her barely pixilated lady parts."

"And believe me, we watched all Madonna's videos very closely," added husband Al Gore, who said Madonna's output seemed "very quaint" compared to Telephone, which he said might even be contributing to the global luke warming epidemic. "The way this 'Ga-Ga' person and Beyonce ate that sticky bun made me feel, frankly, dirty."

The video also shows Gaga kissing a fellow inmate in the women's prison yard, gyrating down jailhouse corridors with other prisoners in bras and thong underwear, and poisoning an entire diner full of people for no apparent reason.

"And don't forget the parts where her lithe, pale body is covered by nothing but a few strands of police tape," noted Al Gore, causing Tipper to glare at him icily.

Even the Vatican, which slammed Madonna's 1989 Like A Prayer video and banned her from Vatican City after she released Erotica in 1992, is backtracking.

"Madonna is welcome back here any time," insisted Pope Benedict XVI, who watched the Telephone video on Saturday and immediately issued an order to have Lady Gaga burned at the stake, before aides reminded him the church doesn't do that any more.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

COLUMN: Welcome to your new credit card bill

Welcome to your new, improved credit card bill. As you may have heard, recently passed regulations dictate that we change certain business practices. But even though our previous methods may have been designed to wring every possible cent out of our card members, we want to make sure you know that our top priority has always been you, the interest-paying customer.

With that in mind, following is a governmentally required summary of some of the changes you’d notice if it were possible for a regular human to decipher a credit card agreement:

1) From now on, rate increases will apply only to new charges. It used to be when we decided to raise our interest rates for some arbitrary reason — you sent your payment 10 minutes late, we didn’t like those unicorns on your checks, we got bored, etc. — those new rates would apply to the balances you’d been accruing since before those online gambling sites you love so much even existed. Now they will apply only to charges accrued after the increase, which, fortunately for us, will still be tremendous.

2) We can no longer raise rates in the first year of a new account. This means at 12:01 on the first day of your second year, expect your rate to pop like the cork out of a champagne bottle. (We drink a lot of champagne here.)

3) Annual fees can now be no more than 25 percent of your total credit line. In a related development, congratulations! We’ve raised your credit line by 150 percent. Information about fees relative to that increase will come in a separate letter that we’re hoping you throw away without actually opening.

4) The payment due date will now be the same each month, so you’ll know exactly when your payment is late, as opposed to before when you just had a general, nagging feeling of lateness that you would try to put out of your mind. The amount by which we raise your rate when you’re late will still be chosen completely at random, though.

5) People under 21 will now need their parents’ permission before they can get a credit card. We highly recommend parents do give permission, however, so that their teens will have a credit card in case of emergency, such as a big sale at Abercrombie & Fitch. Ha ha! Just a little credit card humor there. We know there’s never a big sale at Abercrombie & Fitch.

(Please note: This company in no way endorses teens sneaking their mother’s credit card from her purse and using that card to make extensive, debt-inducing online or in-store purchases. Although that is something a teen reading this could, technically, do, and it could be weeks or even months before anybody caught on. We’re just saying.)

6) We are now required by law to tell you that if you pay only the minimum balance each month, no matter how much you owe, you will be paying us back for the rest of your life. Then, after you’re gone, we will transfer that debt to your next of kin, and so on, until our dying sun expands to hundreds of times its normal size, engulfing all the planets that surround it. Whereas if you pay an extra $2.75 each month, your balance will be paid off in about a year and a half. We were sort of counting on nobody ever figuring that out.

In conclusion, we want to assure you that, despite what you may have heard about us spending the last six months looking for loopholes, we’re here to provide the best service possible to our customers. We want to make sure that you use your credit cards in the manner they were intended: as a convenient method for making reasonable purchases, not as a vehicle to live beyond your means and accrue possibly debilitating personal debt.

Also, they made us say that.

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, March 08, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Monday: Woman Conan Followed On Twitter Offered Sitcom

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - Sarah Killen, the woman Conan O'Brien chose at random to follow on Twitter last week, will write and produce an NBC sitcom based on her Twitter feed starting this fall.

The show, tentatively titled Lovely Button after Killen's Twitter username (@LovelyButton), will feature Danica McKellar, best known as Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, as a woman who tweets about peanut butter and planning her wedding.

"We think Sarah's 33 tweets will make a fascinating basis for a sitcom," said NBC CEO Jeff Zucker. "She's clearly got what 18- to 49-year-old men are looking for, whatever that is."

The sitcom was originally planned to revolve around the changes in the main character's life after Conan O'Brien follows her on Twitter, but NBC had to scrap that angle after being threatened by O'Brien's attorneys.

"Apparently there's still some resentment there," admitted Zucker, who removed O'Brien from The Tonight Show after seven months to replace him with former host Jay Leno. "We sent (NBC executive) Dick Ebersol to his house to try to talk to him, but Max Weinberg came out and hit him with a timpani."

Some analysts say NBC is scrambling to compete with rival CBS, which recently announced a sitcom starring William Shatner based on the Twitter feed S--t My Dad Says, tentatively titled Oh, The Things My Dad Says!

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

COLUMN: The comic books that came in from the cold

My family and I went to an actual, real-life bookstore the other night. I like to do this every so often to support the publishing industry, given that the vast majority of my books are purchased used on eBay. You’d be amazed at how little you can pay for a book if you’re not one of those people distracted by unidentifiable stains.

Anyway, during this visit I was surprised to find an entire wall devoted to nothing but comic books. They called them “graphic novels,” but I know a comic book when I see one — I can tell by the little boxes, and the drawings of people with bodies attainable only through the unlicensed use of gamma rays.

I can’t say exactly how I feel about comic books being given such prominence in legitimate bookstores, though. I know when I was a kid, finding your favorite comics was a challenge. They were such an afterthought that most drugstores were more likely to have those magazines on the top shelf wrapped in brown paper than they were to have comic books. (I never found out what was in those magazines, but I suspect it was articles about adult topics, like escrow.)

As I recall, it took me years to find a regular supplier: I finally discovered that Kurtz’s Stationery in my little hometown of Carmel, N.Y. had one whole shelf devoted to comics, nestled in the back of the store among the tobacco products. I use the term “back” loosely, since a grown adult could walk the entire length of the store in about four strides; if you were 10 and sprinting breathlessly toward the comics, it probably took about six.

The width of the single aisle would have been a tight squeeze for most modern air travelers — there was barely enough room to fit a single customer and the ever-present owner (Mr. Kurtz, I presume), an ancient man in giant horn-rimmed glasses and flannel hunting shirt, perched on a stool behind the penny candy bin. The store’s been closed for years, but somehow I picture him still there, silently waiting for someone to just try to pocket a Tootsie Roll without him noticing.

It was an interesting sensation being in Kurtz’s. What it lacked in space it easily made up for in utility — not an inch of wall space was unused, its shelves stacked to the ceiling with magazines and newspapers of all sizes and stripes. On a particularly dim day, walking in gave you a distinct feeling of having burrowed into a newsstand from the bottom up.

The store was on the route to the deli where my father bought bagels every Sunday, so we worked out a system; he would drop me off on his way, and I’d have approximately 12 minutes to flip through every new title and make my purchase before he pulled up on his way back. That probably sounds like plenty of time, but not when you only have $2 and have to narrow it down to five comics when there are at least 10 you want.

So who got left out? The Fantastic Four? Ghost Rider? Daredevil? Certainly not Spider-Man, and he probably had three or four different titles devoted to him at that point. (I could name them all, but I don’t want the bullies from my elementary school to track me down and give me wedgies. With Facebook I think that’s possible.)

Which brings me to my concerns over my bookstore visit. Back then, I think part of the joy of reading comics was that the effort you put into finding them made you feel like you were part of an exclusive club. A club full of slightly chubby, nearsighted boys obsessed about whether it would be cooler to have super strength or be able to walk through walls, but a club nonetheless.

Finding them in a major bookstore, so easily accessible, seems to take some of the fun out of it. Sure, I enjoyed reading them for their entertainment and educational value — for instance, from “Savage Sword of Conan” I learned that there was a period in our history where women wore nothing but metal bikinis — but I think my fondest memories are of tracking the comics down, whether lucked upon at random or during my regular Sunday run. I even thought about buying a few the other night, just for old time’s sake.

Not in the bookstore, of course. I’m sure I could find them much cheaper on eBay.

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, March 02, 2010

AT LARGE Fake News Tuesday: Governments Say World Definitely Not Ending, Nuh-uh

WASHINGTON (CAP) - The U.S. government has joined with other nations from around the globe to state that the world is not coming to an end, despite the unprecedented weather and earthquake incidents of recent months.

"The idea that the world is ending is, frankly, uh ... ludicrous," said President Barack Obama, speaking from Air Force One, surrounded by his family and closest advisors. "Everything is going along, uh, just the way it usually does."

Obama's staff was on the presidential plane for a "change of pace," said the president, and definitely not because they were heading to a secret rendezvous area to board a fleet of high-tech "arks."

"No matter what you read on TMZ," he added.

Governments of other nations corroborated Obama's assertions. In England, Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, addressed reporters to confirm that people had nothing to worry about.

"Pish-posh, everything's fine," said Bradshaw, speaking from the office of Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing St. in London. "World coming to an end - nonsense." He then poured himself a glass of water, spilling most of it onto the prime minister's desk as his hands shook uncontrollably.

Asked where the prime minister was, and the royal family, and the 20-plus other secretaries and ministers in Brown's cabinet, Bradshaw responded, "What's that? Oh, out for a stroll, I suppose. Not headed to a secret rendezvous area, I can tell you that."

He then closed his eyes for about 30 seconds and muttered, "Blasted short straw," before laying his head down on the prime minister's soggy desk.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]