What is the biggest book you've read? Whatever it was, Michael Hawley can top it. In fact, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist produced it himself. The tome is about Bhutan and has been certified as history's largest published work by the Guinness Book of World Records. Hawley set out to compile thousands of photographs that he'd gathered of the isolated Himalayan kingdom and found that the larger the image, the better it looked. Result: a volume whose pages are 5 feet by 7 feet. Each copy weighs 133 pounds and requires a gallon of ink and enough paper to cover a football field. It's yours for $10,000, which will go a charity that builds schools in Bhutan and in Cambodia. Orders? About two dozen so far, Hawley says.
A flock of seagulls is free again, thanks to a Christmas Day rescue by German firefighters. The birds became frozen resting on a lake in Munich. While most wiggled free with minor aid, "one was so stuck we had to cut out the whole chunk of ice" and take it back to the station, says a department spokesman.
Veteran New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen's 30-city tour was the top-grossing concert in North America this year, according to trade publication Pollstar. Overall sales rose for a fifth straight year to about $2.4 billion, the magazine's editor said. Pollstar's top 10 shows and their respective takes (in millions) for 2003:
1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band $115.9
2. Celine Dion 80.5
3. The Eagles 69.3
4. Fleetwood Mac 69.0
5. Cher 68.2
6. Simon & Garfunkel 64.5
7. Aerosmith/Kiss joint tour 64.0
8. Dixie Chicks 60.5
9. Billy Joel/Elton John joint tour 50.9
10. "Summer Sanitarium" tour (led by Metallica) 48.8 - Reuters