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Local bloggers move from computer screens to ink and paper

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At a time when newspapers are moving from print to the Web, the Pittsburgh bloggers who mock them have taken a step in the opposite direction.

More than three years after launching its Onion-esque Web site, Carbolic Smoke Ball (carbolicsmokeblog.blogspot.com), the Carbolic staff is releasing its first book, Zombies Ate My Headlines.

"It's a culmination of the last three years of our Web site," says Chad Hermann, a Carbolic writer and editor. "It's our greatest hits."

And the book, which hit stores on Nov. 25, has already paid dividends, he says: "Seeing our work in print makes me think I'm smarter than I am."

The 181-page, self-published book ($14.95, paperback) includes roughly 250 fake stories, headlines and photos culled from more than 3,000 archived blog posts. However, Hermann says, "It's not just a retread of what was on the Web." He says the book features about a dozen new components, including "a whole bunch of new photos ... that people have never seen before."

The brainchild of editor-in-chief Tim Murray, Carbolic Smoke Ball began in early 2005, lampooning the local and national news with a handful of daily blog posts. Composed mainly of satiric news stories, tabloid-style headlines and doctored pictures, Carbolic's writers and editors poke fun at public figures and current events, as well as the media itself.

For Zombies, Murray says the editors weeded out stories that were too local, or that would be dated. "We want people to read this book a year from now," he says. "Every joke, every story -- even if it's Pittsburgh-related -- can be understood by any reasonably intelligent person in America."

For example, one of the book's headlines reads, "Intercourse, Pennsylvania's progressive Amish want to update town's quaint image by officially changing its name to 'F*ck, Pennsylvania.'"

Hermann won't disclose how much it cost to publish the book. "It wasn't necessarily done on the cheap," he says. "We really wanted to put out a very funny and nice-looking package. And we really feel like we did that."

For Carbolic's next project, Hermann says a play is in the making. "The goal is to make every line a joke," he says. "It's a play that is literally going to have you rolling in the aisles."

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