Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AT LARGE Fake News Wednesday: Lion King Re-Release To Traumatize New Generation

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - Disney Studios has re-released its classic 1994 animated film The Lion King, offering a whole new generation of children the opportunity to be traumatized when the young protagonist witnesses his father's brutal murder and is tricked into believing he was responsible for the death.

"Watching the scene where Mufasa falls from a cliff and is trampled to death as Simba watches helplessly was probably the single most wrenching emotional moment for millions of small children growing up in the 1990s," noted Edwin Catmull, president of Disney Animation Studios. "That's what Disney is all about."

Catmull noted that since the new version is in "Disney Digital 3-D," the experience will be even more poignant for today's youngsters, who will feel like Mufasa "is falling to his death right on top of them."

"And the scene where a crying Simba nuzzles his father's dead body before being sent into exile for the remainder of his ruined childhood by his sociopathic uncle, well, seeing it in 3-D will make kids feel like it's actually happening to them," Catmull said.

"I know I can't wait to take my kids," said Craig Milken, 27, of Berkeley, Calif., a father of two young boys who calls seeing The Lion King at age 9 a "defining experience" of his childhood.

"Also probably the reason for the subsequent 12 years of therapy, but whatever," he added.

The Lion King represents just the first in a series of 3-D re-releases of Disney classics, according to Catmull, who says the studio will be concentrating on films containing the timeless scenes "nearest and dearest" to children's hearts.

"I'm thinking of the scene where Dumbo cries uncontrollably while curled up in his imprisoned mother's trunk, or the one where Bambi's mother is shot to death," said Catmull. "Or the part in Pinocchio where Stromboli locks him in a birdcage and tells him he's going to chop him to pieces with an axe, or where all the bad boys get turned into donkeys ... yeah, basically all of Pinocchio."

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Look, up in the sky! It's a [BOOM!]

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, there's a crisp fall feel to the air, and everything seems at peace in the world. And then you hear that a six-ton space satellite will be hurtling to earth any day now. Figures.

Before we all panic (as we are wont to do), there are a few things to keep in mind: Yes, scientists say that the potential strike zone "covers most of Earth." But "most" is not "all." So there's that.

As for your own chances of being waylaid by a hunk of space debris, here's what the experts have to say:
The satellite will break into pieces, and NASA put the chances that somebody somewhere on Earth will get hurt at 1 in 3,200. But any one person's odds of being struck have been estimated at 1 in 21 trillion.
Which are pretty good odds, unless you happen to be that one guy. And given that some of those pieces could be a good 300 pounds, according to estimates, it may be worth heading underground, just in case, lest you risk going out on a stroll and being turned into a pancake by the space metal equivalent of these guys.

Meanwhile, a small part of me hopes the thing lands here on the North Shore of Mass., just for bragging rights. Just as long as it doesn't hit anything historic.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

COLUMN: Schools vs. the mosquitoes

The following is (not really) a message from your superintendent of schools:

Hello parents! We hope you and your children are adapting well to another new school year. As you know, as a district we are dedicated to your children’s education, health and welfare, not necessarily in that order.

With that in mind, we have elected to cancel outdoor activities until further notice in the wake of the discovery of West Nile virus in a mosquito within town limits. According to the Department of Public Health, it was just a single mosquito, and since it was found in a car with New Jersey license plates it was likely driven here from out of state, possibly last year.

Still, we prefer not to take any chances and will be doing our best to keep your children from exposure to air, particularly outdoor air. To that end, we have canceled or postponed the following activities:

  • After-school sports practices and games;
  • Outdoor recess;
  • Standing or milling about open windows or doorways;
  • Busing.

Rather than have children wait at or walk home from a bus stop, and ride in a bus in which mosquitoes can travel into the vehicle with the exhaust fumes, we ask that you plan to drop students off and pick them up inside the school. They can accompany you to and from the parking lot via the large airtight sterile tubes set up by our custodial staff, very similar to the ones used by the government agents in the film “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Health has notified us that, in an effort to ensure public health following the discovery of the mosquito, it will be spraying the entire town with deadly chemicals this Tuesday. Officials have asked that while they spray, from approximately 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., residents remain sealed tightly in their homes, running their oven fans at “maximum.”

Until spraying commences, please make sure your children do not leave the house unless they are wearing long sleeves, long pants, long socks, ski hats and, ideally, plastic baggies around their hands secured by elastic bands. It is not recommended that you put baggies over your children’s heads unless you poke holes in them first, which kind of defeats the purpose. A better idea is probably to spray your child in the face with DEET.

Also, please remember to dispose of any sources of standing water around your home where mosquitoes might breed, like those old trash can covers and hubcaps that have been on your driveway since the late ’90s. You know who you are.

I acknowledge that we’ve heard complaints from several parents who have pointed out that they spent practically their entire childhoods outdoors, never used bug spray, and, despite coming home every night covered with literally dozens of mosquito bites, they never got ill. However, I would point out that times have changed, in that mosquito-borne illnesses are much more common, as are liability attorneys.

We hope that these minor inconveniences are short-lived and that the Department of Public Health will soon sound the “all clear,” allowing us to resume outdoor activities as usual. On the other hand, if they find any mosquitoes with Eastern equine encephalitis within a 50-mile radius, I should warn you we’ll be sending you copies of your children’s textbooks so you can home-school them in your boarded-up basement while we wait for the first heavy frost. See you next year!

Your Superintendent

Peter Chianca is editor in chief for GateHouse Media New England’s north-of-Boston newspapers and websites. Follow him on Twitter at

Monday, September 19, 2011

AT LARGE Fake News Monday: Red Sox Plagued By Injuries, Voodoo Curse

BOSTON (CAP) - As the Red Sox September slide continues, it's hard not to lay at least some of the blame for the team's troubles on a debilitating spate of injuries and the ancient curse placed upon them by an elderly voodoo priestess.

"It's a hard thing to plan for," admitted manager Terry Francona, citing Kevin Youklis' bouts with bursitis, David Ortiz's back spasms and the curse incanted over a duck's liver and the blood of three dead chickens.

Some, like Boston Globe columnist Peter Abraham, have questioned whether the team's injuries could be the result of poor conditioning practices, while noting that the curse likely wouldn't be an issue if certain players were more careful about their behavior around people steeped in the dark arts of voodoo sorcery.

"I can tell you this from being around the team: There are certain guys who bust their asses every day, and there are certain guys who don't," wrote Abraham in his blog on "And there are certain guys who don't think it through before they piss off priestesses."

Abraham was oblique in his references, but it's widely assumed he's referring to veteran players like Youklis and Ortiz, who aren't known for engaging in rigorous conditioning routines, and pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who tried to make a Haitian voodoo priestess Irish step dance with him to Shipping Up To Boston while on an off-season team excursion to Ortiz's childhood home in the Dominican Republic.

Ortiz, for his part, says that he does in fact engage in daily workouts with Red Sox strength and conditioning coach David Page, that he's in as good a shape as he's ever been, and that the curse is likely hoodoo in origin, rather than voodoo.

"A lot of people make that mistake," he noted, adding that he expected to remain in the lineup as long as his regular strength training keeps his back in good shape, and no one is poking needles into a crude doll fashioned in his likeness.

[Read the rest at CAP News.]

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

AT LARGE Fake News Wednesday: Netflix To Replace Starz With '80s Teen Sex Comedies

LOS GATOS, Calif. (CAP) - Industry insiders are predicting tough times ahead for Netflix, with news of the video service losing hundreds of Starz movie and TV titles just as it increased prices this month. But Netflix executives are saying subscribers needn't worry, given the company's continual acquisition of a "treasure trove" of teenage sex comedies from the 1980s.

"Just this week we started streaming Joysticks, Zapped! and Private Lessons," noted Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. "And there's plenty more where that came from," he added, mentioning Private School and Private Resort as two other films Netflix hopes to offer in the next year.

"Negotiations are ongoing," Hastings assures. "We hope to have all the Privates before we're done."

Hastings has been doing his best to put a good face on his company's breakdown in talks with Starz, which offered streaming of such popular hits as Disney's Tangled and the series Spartacus: Blood And Sand.

"I doubt viewers will even notice the difference," Hastings said, noting that a subscriber who searches for Tangled will get useful suggestions of similar movies to watch instantly, such as Hot Dog ... The Movie or Losin' It. And those searching for Spartacus will get similarly useful suggestions, such as Hot Dog ... The Movie or Losin' It.

"Ski School, The Last American Virgin, Hot Moves, My Tutor, they're all there," he added.

"Well, not My Tutor, but we are this close," he said, holding his thumb and forefinger very close together.

Subscribers have been up in arms since Netflix announced what amounts to a 60 percent price hike for streaming and DVD rentals, and the latest development only has them more fired up.

"WTF, Netflix? First you raise your prices, and now you're not even going to have the Starz movies?" commented VideoVixen44 on the Netflix Blog. "Now where am I going to watch The Money Pit and First Kid starring Sinbad?"

[Read the rest at CAP News.]