Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I remember seeing Beavis and Butthead marvel at this particular rock & roll video back in the day. My brother and I were similarly incredulous.

I hadn't thought of it in many years. I recently learned (by leafing through Stereogum's comments section) that it was Gary Young-- the Gary Young, the misfit hippie burnout behind the kit for Slanted & Enchanted and Pavement's early years.

Also, that's Thurston Moore in the tree costume.

Guess everyone knew this but me.

My own PhD application strategy: pretend I have nothing to do with this blog

Feel the pain.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

If I'm not having fun right now, you can't have any fun either

Presented without comment from this story. Also see this Dana Milbank column & try not to reach for the bourbon.

At another point in their news conference, Rumsfeld and Pace had an unusual exchange in which Rumsfeld corrected his senior military adviser, only to have Pace gently insist that it was the defense secretary who was wrong.
A reporter asked Pace what U.S. commanders in Iraq are supposed to do if they find Iraqi forces abusing prisoners. Pace replied that if inhumane treatment is observed it is a service member's duty to stop it.
"I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it — it's to report it," Rumsfeld said, turning to Pace.
Replied the general: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."

Monday, November 28, 2005


I'm busy to the point of flop-sweat panic at the moment, but there's plenty to keep you entertained tonight. Savor Duke Cunningham's fall. Savor Fitzgerald's further investigation of Rove. Savor Scanlon's flip. Savor the fact that 50% of the Republicans in Congress are tossing and turning at night, wondering if those free Wrestlemania tickets from Abramoff were really worth it. Mourn my dizzying fall from grace: I'm now 1-1 calling 49er games.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Royal "We", 5 Months; First Affectation to Walk on Moon

Corn Chips & Pie's royal "we" died peacefully in its sleep last night after a long illness. Survivors include "Preciousness" and "Using a Twopenny Word When a Halfpenny Word Would Do Just as Well." In lieu of flowers or donations, please observe twenty minutes of silence. Caution: accidental resurrection from time to time may occur.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sue me Jack

Does being both secular and grateful make me a hypocrite? Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mr. Geography Update

"Ok, my brother. The first country is Djibouti. The next country is Fiji. The last country is Togo."

Mr. Geography was indeed correct. These three countries are the only three in the world that share no letters with "mackerel."

Mr. Geography was excited to hear from me (it was mutual), and was even more excited to learn that I was calling from New York. A few months ago, he had sent a FedEx package to the White House that contained press clippings, a videotape of his appearances on television, and an apparently unsolicited application to be a "bridge from the Arab-Muslim world to the United States." He feels that he has been touched by God: "Knowledge is power, and I have this power. I have the whole world in my head. I want to help people and bring people closer together." Unfortunately, he received no response from the White House; even more unfortunately, some of the material he sent was irreplaceable. He was wondering how he might get his application back, given that they don't seem to be interested. I reluctantly warned him that the odds of getting his stuff back were vanishingly small.

I did promise to look for existing organizations that serve as cultural bridges, and to forward their info to him. The man would make a very interesting and committed cultural ambassador. Corn Chips & Pie will stay in contact with Mr. Geography. Readers who wish to contact him-- with advice or geography trivia questions-- are advised to contact our ombudsman.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Road to 4-12, Week 11

This feature is turning over a new leaf: no misty-eyed lamentations of receding glory days, no cheap jokes at the expense of a struggling team, no bashing of Mike Nolan. [Note: a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that two identical Google searches led readers here around the exact same time. The search phrase: "mike nolan is a fucking idiot". This was a few minutes after Nolan, after running Kevan Barlow up the gut for 1 yard every chance he got, decided to attempt a 52-yard field goal in the swirling winds of Soldier Field with time expiring before the half. This bold move resulted in the NFL's longest play in history: a 108-yard returned missed field goal for a touchdown. And it prompted two poor souls to scream into their search engines. Remind me to pursue a trend piece for the NYT Style section on Google as outlet for frustration.]

And thus I have nothing to write about.

Ha! A joke, merely. Actually, I've renooberated my expectations sufficiently to take pleasure in games like last Sunday's. The rookie left guard played well, Ken Dorsey threw well, Brandon Lloyd continued to make unbelievable catches, and the Niners found the endzone for the first time since Michael Scanlon ate for free at Signatures. And the San Francisco 49ers lost again, meaning that we are directly on course for a 4-12 season. Next week: "Broadway Corn Chips" guarantees a victory over the Titans despite the injury to Bryant Young.

Bumiller? I hardly know her

More disingenuous reporting from a usual suspect, Elisabeth Bumiller, at the NYT. "Cheney sees 'shameless' revisionism on war." Once again, she serves as an administration mouthpiece, with only limp caveats distinguishing her from the Platonic ideal of a water-carrier. Why does the Times suck so much compared to the Post these days? This is a prime example. While the Post (hardly free of problems) is doing some real journalism, the Times is regularly reducing the Iraq war fiasco to a "my word against his" story. At best, this false objectivity is criminally lazy & a disservice to journalism. Why not do some fact-checking and actual reporting, rather than simply parroting the daily assaults & responses of political gamers?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Great cabbies of Toronto, we salute you

The diversity of Toronto floored this ignoramus, who was apparently expecting a city composed entirely of pasty mopers and Vernon Wells. But oh no. Incredibly diverse, and the best cabbies too. We can't stop yakking with cabbies in any city, and Toronto gets an A+ in cabbie locquaciousness. Country of origin, in temporal order: Somalia, Ecuador, Pakistan, Iran, Kuwait, Jamaica, India.

Take this with a massive block of salt; we know this is probably entirely unrepresentative of the population & the generalizations herein are bullshit. But it makes a good anecdote. Within five minutes of conversation with cabbie #1, we'd already broached the topic of female circumcision/genital mutilation (depending on your viewpoint). Normally it takes thirty minutes and several rounds of Yukon Jack. Here was his take on the Somali male dating situation in Toronto: the men like to mess around for a few years, sampling the dating life. "We like to party and fuck, but we don't drink or do drugs. So the Caribbean women like us. Jamaican, Trinidadian, all that." Then, according to the cabbie, they return to the waiting arms of Somali women. He honestly seemed bothered by the notion that Somali women remained chaste while the men screwed around, regarding this inequality as an unfortunate cultural residue. This is the point at which female circumcision/genital mutilation ("35% of Somali women here," according to the cabbie) entered the conversation.

As soon as we entered cab #5, the driver posed a challenge: "I will ask you one question. If you can answer it, the ride is free." He then produced a business card, which features a photo of him next to a globe, and which reads:

Mr. Geography. "Ignorance is the biggest enemy." president of non-profit organization: Save the poor people of Mother Earth. Relieve poverty, provide clean drinking water. Fight Mosquitoes & Malaria. [phone number, mailing address]

We spent the next fifteen minutes firing geography trivia questions back and forth. He stumped us every time (perhaps not so hard), and nailed every question we fired his way... except one: the "mackerel" question. He was clearly excited and happy to be stumped, but insisted that this was technically a "language" question and not a "geography" question, so his undefeated streak of several years remains intact. We're supposed to call him tonight to see if he got it right by now.

Not that we question his authority. The guy is tops, and you've got to concede the validity of his quibble. He produced several laminated news articles featuring his profile (his civilian name is Mohammed Collins). We Googled him later and found this account of his glorious victory over a Canadian Geographic Society team in a quiz.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I don't want to go to Toronto

But I must, I must. Did you know that faceless children carry black balloons around Toronto?
Blogging will resume at normal levels next week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No fundament ungingered

A coupla notes before a minor road trip tears me away from the computamer:

Sticking with a lie to the bitter end, despite overwhelming and possibly humiliating evidence to the contrary, often gives the best results for the liar. I'm not so sure, as Josh Marshall says regarding the Iraq "debate," that "it's an indictment of the state of our public discourse that it's even much of a debate at this late moment." Could be that no administration has stuck with the tactic so successfully before. Then again, it does seem as if torture and denial of habeas are now up for "debate" in this country. Check, please.

A phrase from an old Dervala post amusingly savaging "Freakonomics" is stuck in my head, and would be the CC&P slogan, if it weren't plagiarism: "no fundament ungingered." It's finally dislodged "con la Mega no se juega."

Duuude. Biiiiiiodiesel.

Brother in SF, chef, wants to purchase car that runs on vegetable oil from his restaurant's kitchen. Brother scoping out one car in particular, in Boston. Brother will fly out in December, pick up car, pick me up on the way back, and thus will commence Cannonball Run III. We will cruise westward over hill & vale, learning a lot about America and Christian Rock radio in the process. I will play Dom DeLuise to his Burt Reynolds. There will be crazy outtakes. There will be fat Southern patrolmen. There will be lots of stunt jumps. We will beg for free fuel at countless Burger Kings. We may deep-fry all kinds of shit in our engine just for the hell of it. Imagine home-made Funyuns. Double deep-fried fried chicken. Deep-fried beef jerky. If this is what the life of a hippie is like, maybe I should sign up.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Let's self-medicate.... with Corn Chips & Pie!

...eschewing the Brooklyn Lager for once. Make the pain go away by distracting yourself with the following medications found elsewhere (from the links to the left & other places in the Wide World of Web).

Pat, by Dervala Hanley.
Via Slack LaLane: so much funny it hurts.
Via TMFTML again: "Catch A Collapsing Star," by The Mendoza Line.
Found: on Donner, on Blitzen.
The thoughts of Maud Newton on blogrolling & insularity (an additional, personal defense of cross-linking: without the casual kindness of a few other blogs, literally nobody would read this).
A nice painting that makes me feel nice.
Not Don DeLillo. Yard Work.
Stereogum: Sonny Rollins inspired Blazing Saddles?
Temporary painkiller from TPM.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Revisionism can be fun

Bush hits two cute talking points: 1) criticism of the administration is harming our troops in Iraq, and 2) critics are engaging in "historical revisionism." I think talking point #1 may backfire, if only because of the general mood of the country: "Undermine Our Troops" bumper stickers are outselling yellow ribbons by a 2-1 margin.

But I don't really understand #2. First off, there is the obvious point that the administration's favorite pastime has long been revising the bare facts of the present to suit its needs. But second, I feel like it'd be a fair trade: Kansas gets to revise science, we get to revise history. And finally, I freely admit that I'd love to revise history. Here are some textbook ideas:

There would have to be a chapter titled "Rise of the Mollusks." There would be a look at the glorious two-term reign of President Roger Clinton. Then, my look at the Iraq war: an army of anthropomorphic polecats rides elephants into Baghdad, peacefully freeing the country from the Baath party yoke. Cheers, huzzahs. Then the polecat army turns its attention to the Bush administration, invading Abramoff's DC restaurant ("Signatures"), capturing and imprisoning Cheney, Feith, Abramoff, Wolfowitz, Libby, Rove, Rice, and whoever else I can think of. The prisoners are taken to CIA black ops facilities & treated in a manner that may arguably be inconsistent with the Geneva Convention, if you're nitpicky and into fine distinctions. If someone's gonna be tortured in my name, well, you know.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Con El "Corn Chips" No Se Juega

Got closely shorn over the weekend (about time, really-- we were talking '65 Ringo), and the Ukrainian barber proposed a shave as well. Now there was an idea. Certain of my male acquaintances who share with me a love of affectation swear by the straight razor. And I'd never tried it. So Mr. Barber Man gave me the whole hot-towel & lather treatment, which I'll admit was rather nice. Hey, sometimes you need to pamper yourself. You deserve it.

But the asshole-clenching part was yet to come. A giant fucking razor, probably not sterilized since it was last used to sever the digits of wayward Yakuza, was produced. And he cut the crap out of my face. I hid my lips and prayed. After pinching my nose and finishing my upper lip, he produced a spray bottle. It was, of course, alcohol, and I regret to report that my girlish screams shook the rafters. But my bloodied face was indeed baby-smooth.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A brief, half-assed appreciation of Julian Cope's Skellington

With so much to do & so little time, it would be stupid to write a blog post at the moment. Hence: A Brief, Half-Assed Appreciation of Julian Cope's Skellington.
The man is not always to my tastes. When speaking of his most recent (and surprisingly stable) incarnation as a druid-worshipping neo-hippie, this is an understatement. But the man is always interesting, and undeniably talented: he can pen a beautiful pop song in his sleep, he can write well (Cope's penned books on Krautrock & other topics), and he is truly funny. Plus he's somehow gone through punk, leather-clad glammy pop, eco-terrorist, and trance guru phases while being both patently ridiculous and somehow credible.
Legend has it that he made Skellington to purge himself of the overproduced pap he'd been churning out during the '80s. I suppose if you're interested, a cursory internet search would give you the truth, but I'm not interested in the truth, because I like this version. So, according to my story, he did more drugs than usual & churned out an entire album in less than 24 hours. The cover features Mr. Cope in the throes of what appears to be a simultaneously boring and frightening hallucination. The album bears countless listens.
Here we have mostly acoustic guitar and Julian's slurred baritone, some organ, some piano, one or two tracks with drums. The songs we loved long ago for their novelty appeal, "Robert Mitchum," "Little Donkey," and "Incredibly Ugly Girl," have held up-- but not as well as subtler pleasures like "Doomed." This latter song, for example, features forgotten & mumbled lyrics, out-of-tune brass, & a chippy little rhythm-- adding up to perhaps the loveliest embrace of fate imaginable. I want it to play at my funeral.
Postscript: thanks to my fiddly little clicks on the linkety things to the left there, in the margin (thanks, The Dust Congress), I found out that Julian Cope is an active internet presence, recommending an album every month on his "Head Heritage" website. Check out the latest installment: Harry Flynt & The Insurrections' I Don't Wanna.

Top o' the mornin'

A rare morning that begins with good news. Kaine & Corzine won in Virginia & Jersey, respectively. All 8 of Arnold's propositions went down to defeat in California. Even Mike Dunleavy's Riesling Brigade beat the Bucks. Only one thing can make the morning complete: I must expunge the billboard slogan for local radio station "La Mega" from my head. Con la Mega no se juega. Con la Mega no se juega. Con la Mega no se juega. Con la Mega no se juega.

If you're gonna be flippantly idiotic, you might as well be in New York

If you're "edgy" for a living, perhaps you're bound to say something fucking stupid eventually, like this from Gawker: "Muslim-by-way-of-Portland blogger Laila Lalami celebrates the publication of her first novel... If you’re gonna be a Muslim blogger in this country, you might as well be one in Portland."

Who knew we had people from Muslimistan within these very borders? And what does that last part even mean?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some afternoon musings on torture

Good post by Mark Kleiman.

The Road to 4-12, Week 9

As often noted, if you're named "Joe Montana," you're destined to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. "Cody Pickett," however, was born to rope calves & throw behind receivers.

It's just unfun to be a 49er fan. Unfortunately, I caught part of Sunday's game against the Giants in a bar here in New York. Excruciatingly futile. Like rooting for the sun not to go down. Like rooting for pi to end. Where's the fun in endless 3-and-outs and 8-yard Tiki Barber runs up the middle? You really can't blame the rodeo clown; passes were dropped and the O-line looked like they'd rather be making daisy chains. I think one camera actually caught Eric Heitmann braiding his chest hair as a blitzer flattened Pickett.

This is a far cry from the glory days of the Giants-49ers rivalry, the days of Walsh and Parcells, the days of a drunken Pat Summerall (confused and uncomprehending, playing it safe) simply repeating "Morris. Joe Morris." Even the Jeff Garcia-led playoff comeback of a couple of years ago now seems part of some bygone era of competence.

Maybe we can get Terrell Owens back. Didn't he say the Eagles would be undefeated if Cody Pickett were their QB instead of McNabb? By the way, when the Niners get shut out next Sunday by the Bears, watch Mike Singletary's eyes grow huge on the sideline. He might just sprint onto the field and flatten Pickett himself. Muscle memory.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Reflections with a Spastic Pulse

Back in the 1980s, there was a bit of music that, like a coelacanth, had somehow survived the transition out of disco into the New Age. It may have been in the public domain, or it may have earned considerable royalties for some composer (I imagine him with a thinning ponytail, driving a navy blue Saab, wearing a white turtleneck under a sports jacket. His friends call him "chief" but he hates it, considering it crass and possibly offensive to Native Americans. He is on his way to Asilomar for a Rolfing seminar. He's got a tape of Pachelbel's Canon in his stereo; he's chewing Wrigley Spearmint gum and half-wondering if he shouldn't have hidden his stash in the obvious spot under the passenger seat).

Anyway, you'd hear this music during sports highlights all the time-- especially during "This Week In Baseball." Close your eyes, picture Mel Allen's voice and a diving stop by Dave Concepcion, and you may be able to conjure up this tune. Disco drumbeat & synchronized bassline, minor key, vaguely melancholy despite the pace & cheese. Horns or synths would come in with the catchy chorus.

Find & download Stereolab's "Visionary Road Maps," part of the Kyberneticka Babicka EP; it somehow captures whatever good could come from the above (but of course throws in the requisite French-accented leftist nonsense, trombone, warm sugary dual mono, etc). They took "Mass Riff" from Instant 0 In the Universe, fried it up with some fresh garlic & olive oil, and made a tasty new song.

Nota bene: I'm a longtime Groop fan that'll follow them nearly anywhere, except some of their Cobra and Phases stuff. If you need an intro, start with Emperor Tomato Ketchup, I says.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Nugs? Bud?

Before we lose our bearings this weekend, some final thoughts:

  • You really can wear jeans for weeks without washing them. Nobody says anything.
  • There are only 3 countries in the world that do not share any letters with "mackerel."
  • This is great (and, let's face it, perfectly representative of the CC&P demographic): a preview of the upcoming basketball season, with each team's prospects proxied by a Malkmus or Berman song. Wrt "my" team: I pretty much agree, except that I really like The Hexx. I'm a Terror Twilight apologist, in fact. Come on: "the secondary stumbles 'cause the cadence of the count has led them astray"? And somehow it's made to sound creepy.
  • You know the whole "What's up?" / "Pretty good" mismatch? Alternatively, "How's it going?" / "Not much." Here's the way you avoid the risk of such a humiliating exchange: you follow the lead of Larry, who replies "All riiight" to absolutely any greeting that doesn't require a specific response (which, if you think about it, is just about anything). Larry wins. He's never wrong. You're wrong. All riiight.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Good stuff

Enjoy this peek at truly admirable insularity and sycophancy, which will undoubtedly make Friday morning headlines.
My favorite is the whole roll-up-the-sleeves trick. ("Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt... all shirts. Even the President rolled up his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this crises [sic] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working... ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!")
I've already perfected furrowing my brow to appear busy and serious-minded; I'd never thought to actually roll up my sleeves. So simple. Such genius.

Duck season. Mosquito season.

We here at Corn Chips & Pie have been dutifully watching the three-part PBS series on global health (final segment tomorrow). And we are generally impressed: good overview, only moderate kowtowing to pharmaceutical companies (Merck is a sponsor), nice balance between the appropriate focus on developing countries and the necessary focus on developed countries, comically grave inflections by narrator Brad Pitt during harrowing scenes. Perhaps more impressively, the segments chart a reasonably cautious route between the Scylla of fundraising-friendly alarmism and the Charybdis of Pollyannaish success stories.

But look: we know our place. Nobody comes here for public health punditry. The motto for CC&P should be "Come for the cheap jokes on light topics, stay for the cheap jokes on heavy topics." In this spirit, let's salute the vector control technicians. These are the dudes who go out & spray the shit out of standing water in order to kill mosquitoes. These are America's unappreciated heroes. Do mosquito abatement personnel get beefcake fundraising calendars? Hell, no. I knew some of these guys back in my hometown. If they hadn't been working for the county, they'd be doing whipits and playing Bloody Knuckles. But they were monomaniacally committed to Killing Skeeters. They were nuts. They were probably effective.

Here's what I say: let's harness the sociopathic and murderous tendencies of our adolescents in the service of a greater good. Let's get the acne-ridden dispossessed to focus their anomie at Anopheles. We cannot fail.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nihilist Assault Group

In many ways, this week is soberin' up time: from the schadenfreude fiesta of Fitzgerald's investigation, from the drunken stupidity of All Hallows' Eve and related excuses for inebriation, from baby niece-related giddiness over the weekend, from the pleasant illusion that I have nothing better to do than blog.

So: if for whatever reason you, too, feel the harsh autumn light today as a slap in the face, why not join me? Let's put on a pot of espresso, drink lots of fluids, perhaps take a multivitamin, spin a Clifford Brown record, and take a hot shower. Then let's don our unitards, do some leglifts, follow up with some kneebends, and complete a thirty-minute Jazzercise routine. Then let's all get cracking & tackle meaninglessness with our customary abandon.

The Road to 4-12, Week 8

I admit it. I panicked. I lost faith. Just when I was about to renooberate the forecasting model & rename this quasi-weekly feature "The Road to 1-15," our fellas in cerise came through. A glorious victory, without a touchdown, over a weakened team led by its second-string quarterback. Stay the course. Steady as she goes. 4-12 awaits, glistening on yonder shore. If you're interested, my prediction for next week: NY Giants 486, SF 49ers 3.

Neither funny nor sports-related

This is interesting (full seven-part series here), if overblown in its prose, and stakes out an arena for some fundamental contests: where is the line between patronization and negligence? What's the right price for a preventable death? Is there a difference between a libertarian attitude toward suicide and encouraging suicide, and if so, where does this difference become apparent? Is there a tradeoff between aesthetics and mortality? These answers are obvious to most people. But it's noteworthy that these obvious answers are usually in such stark disagreement with one another, even among reasonable, smarty-pants-type people.

By the way, Weldon Kees, who is mentioned in this article because he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955, was an excellent poet whose depression-inspired work is among the most haunting I've ever read. Look him up if you feel like you're too happy for your own good. You know who you are.