Chuck Shepherd

Perhaps there are parents who, according to the Cinepolis movie chain, long to watch movies in theaters while their children ages 3 and up frolic in front in a "jungle-gym" playground inside the same auditorium. If so, the company's two "junior" movie houses, opening in San Diego and Los Angeles, may bring a new dimension to "family entertainment." Another view, though, is that the noise (often "screaming"), plus the overhead lighting required for parents to monitor their tykes' equipment usage, plus the planned $3-per-ticket surcharge, will soon create, according to the Guardian critic, a moviegoing "apocalypse."

News of the pretentious

• Why live with a cat if one cannot take it out for some wine? The Apollo Peak in Denver and the PetWinery in Fort Myers, Fla., serve a variety of the real grape to humans and nonalcoholic proprietary drinks for the kitties to enjoy tableside (or underneath). "Pinot Meow" ($12) in Denver and "Meow and Chandon" ($15) in Fort Myers, are specialties — basically watered catnip, according to a February New York Times report, so the felines can also get buzzed.

• "I tried the $5,000 hamburger, and it was absolutely worth it," wrote the apparently straight-faced CNBC reviewer Robert Frank in February, describing his meal at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay restaurant Fleur. The burger included Waygu beef, foie gras and truffles, and was served with a similarly inexplicably priced wine. Other recent consumer challenges: an $18 cup of coffee at Brooklyn's Extraction Lab; a $100 bottle of Norwegian iceberg water (; a $2,000 pizza at New York City's Industry Kitchen (caviar, truffles, gold flakes); and a $25,000 taco at the Grand Velas Los Cabos resort in Mexico (caviar, Brie, Kobe beef, langoustine lobster, rare tequila — and once again with the gold flakes).

Protecting their surf

Anglers fighting to preserve choice spots on the fishing pier on Sebastian Inlet, north of Vero Beach, Fla., have taken to tossing lead weights and other items at "competitors," especially those who approach the pier to fish directly from their boats. Such territory marking by the "piersters" includes, according to a February report in Florida Today, perhaps a version of classic mammal behavior, like strategic urination and hurling their feces at the waterborne invaders.

Government in action

Illinois has problems: a $130 billion unfunded pension crisis, 19 months without a budget, the lowest credit rating and highest property taxes in the country and the murder rate in Chicago. However, at least the state's House of Representatives is not standing by idly. In February, it moved to designate October 2017 as Zombie Preparedness Month (basically, adding "zombie invasion" to the list of mobilizations for any natural disaster and urging residents to stockpile food and supplies for up to 72 hours).

Wrong place, wrong time

"Life's full of peaks and valleys, man," Californian Georgiy Karpekin told a reporter, but Jan. 18 seemed all valley. Karpekin has both a pickup truck and a car, and as he was leaving Sacramento City College that day during violent storms, a falling tree crushed the truck. When he got home, he learned that the same storm had taken down another tree — on top of his car. Karpekin, insured and uninjured, called himself "the luckiest guy."

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