Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Corn Chips & Pie Will Return

in Thunderball.

In the meantime, here's a fistful of anecdotal chaff:

  • Purchased an espresso pot from a great used cookware store on Divisadero in SF. Upon learning I live in Baltimore, the guy behind the counter told me about hangin' with Divine in Venice Beach during the 1980s. "Glen" wore a white muumuu to the beach. He loved to drink Diet Pepsi in bulk and jump up & down on a friend's waterbed. That's about as crazy as the stories got.
  • Robin Williams was behind me in line at a bookstore. I didn't catch what he was buying, so we may feel free to speculate that it was a point-of-purchase book about unicorns. There is a better joke here somewhere, but I don't have it in me.
  • While I was riding the Airport Beer Dragon in Miami, the woman next to me turned & said, with no intro or buildup, "I just got out of a very abusive relationship." She then described how her boyfriend, a vicious ex-con, threatened to kill & skin her dog while she was away for the holidays. I glanced around nervously & said loudly, "Well, sounds like you blew it! He's quite a catch! Hop on that train before it leaves the station! Gotta run!"
  • It is a glorious day in the Bay Area.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Solstice nuggets

What does one do when one's flight to San Francisco is canceled? There are really only 3 socially acceptable options: 1) drink, 2) blog, or 3) drink and blog.

  • This is a typically perceptive post from Dervala Hanley on depression, on Against Depression, and against depression. I had vowed to read Peter Kramer's book earlier this year, and now I must follow through. Damn it.
  • I know I'm a week late on this, and I'm sure sports talk radio has made the point... but since I now live in Baltimore, I feel obliged to comment on the Knicks-Nuggets brawl. Here on Carmelo Anthony's home turf, you see that kind of thing every day. What happens to snitches on the streets of Baltimore? Open-handed slaps and panicked backpedaling. It's ugly.
  • Speaking of slaps, I was discussing revenge daydreams with a friend the other day. Sure, some people deserve a sharp blow to the throat. But others merely deserve a soft, chilly, damp slap, right across the ol' muzzle. The kind of greasy slap where the hand lingers on the face. Almost more push than slap. The mere thought delights me.
  • I'm thinking about devoting an entire week of Corn Chips & Pie to photographs of marine life. That giant halibut plucked a chord deep within me. F# minor.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I know you like analogies

The situation of an obscure blogger waiting for web traffic reminds me of a driver sitting in a line of cars, waiting for a signal to start the ignition and to drive into the cargo bay of a waiting car ferry. It is an interminable wait. One anticipates the moment of action: all you gotta do is turn the key. Shift into first. Release the clutch. In you go.

Unfortunately, I tend to dwell upon the unremarkable task before me. I overthink it, you know? And so when the time finally arrives, I turn the key. I shift into first. I release the clutch. I slam into the car in front of me. My container of flammable liquid—perched with foolish nonchalance upon the dashboard—tips over and empties its contents onto my crotch. As my mouth opens in surprise, I release the walnut pipe that had been clenched manfully between my teeth. As ember meets kerosene, my testicles explode in an eerily beautiful fireball. I jerk and writhe uncontrollably, inadvertently jarring the lever controlling the trunk, thus releasing my troupe of rhesus monkeys wearing Semtex belts (I’ve been training them for strictly artistic purposes) in full view of the customs & immigration officials.

So I’d like to thank Mr. Uncle Grambo for his kind mention of this blog on Valleywag. I fear, however, that even his considerable torque may be insufficient to budge this blog from the iron jaws of obscurity. Plus, this is the post that will greet new visitors. All I had to do was drive the fucking car into the ferry. And now I’ve set my crotch on fire again.

But hey, there's a picture of a really big halibut just below.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Here is a good website. It reports odd incidents involving marine life around the UK. Sperm whale beachings, tropical fish far afield, etc. Via the site, I found the accompanying picture of the world's largest halibut. Our waggish Norwegian fisherman also posed for another picture in which he simulates riding on the back of this monster from the briny depths.

As the Norwegian newspaper report states, "Uansett om det er reduksjon i prisen, så tjente han seg en pent dagslønn på gigantfisken." Hey, I hear that!

Also: my memory's not what it used to be, and I am many years removed from my stint on the Argentinian whaling vessel (El Pato Agujereado). But I'll be damned if this is ambergris. That woman should be ashamed of herself, exercising the nation needlessly like that.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

From each according to his ability... each according to his need. But what need, precisely? I think China needs to get the World's Tallest Prostitute on a plane to Inner Mongolia.

Here's why.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just call me Ron Mexico*

Owing to an unusual turn of events, I found myself in Mexico City from Thursday until Sunday. Somewhat surreally (and uncharacteristically, I hasten to add), I experienced the megalopolis through the sensory filters employed by the top 0.001% of the Mexican economic elite. Cheerfully superhuman concierges. Absurdly good food. Pouilly-Fuissé and top-shelf tequila. Black SUVs with tinted windows; chauffeurs who were former matadors & who regaled us with tales of broken spines and altitude-handicapped bulls (bulls in Mexico City are smaller than bulls at lower altitudes, due to pulmonary necessity). Gated communities with private equestrian centers; ostentatiously tasteful cedar libraries with books on 16th century legal theory, and with a creepily clichéd first edition of Mein Kampf in Spanish. Blowhards and quietly brilliant rich men. Trophy wives with nonstandard facial geometry.

Luckily, we were able to get away for a while. The zocalo at night was hallucinatory: giant colored LED displays of holiday cheer loomed over the periphery, while groups of young people performed aggressive Indian dances in unison. It smelled like roast corn and propane. The mountain town of Tepoztlán is what I imagine Taos to be like: gorgeous and haunting if you can ignore the fucktard New Agers. A "doctor" with a stethoscope around her neck (in a touchingly simple bid for credibility) and her mascara-heavy tranny sidekick read my aura, for the hell of it. There was a problem when their Windows 95 operating system had trouble running the crude program designed to randomly spit out horoscopic gibberish... but I was assured that my aura was so crushingly powerful that the computer couldn't handle it. It was ok. Outside, a mariachi band played with flair and bogglingly tight coordination. A wedding party was breaking up. Cloudlike white flowers spilled out of the ancient church.

*My professor in an infectious disease class once referred to the Michael Vick herpes case as an illustrative example of asymptomatic shedding.


Look, the fact that I haven't posted in a while doesn't necessarily mean I thought the last post was all that great. All right? Will you get off my back now?

Also: good for Our Boy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pole explorer heads north

Hedy moved to Washington, D.C. from Poland when she was young. She and her husband raised two boys on little money, and could ill afford extravagance, but Hedy was determined to expose her kids to the Realm of the Metropolitan. DC wouldn't do: "Washington was a mausoleum then. Well, it still is."

But Baltimore-- now, Baltimore is a "real city." So every week, she took her two sons to Baltimore, walked the streets, and simply stood there on one particular corner. She instructed the children to "feel the pulse of the city rising from beneath the sidewalk." One day, a man approached them, and gently inquired why this little trinity made weekly appearances on the corner. Hedy explained her educational goals, and noted that Baltimore was as far as she could afford to take them on the train.

That winter, during another one of their vibe vigils, three men approached Hedy and gave her an envelope. Inside: cash for train tickets to New York. A reservation at the Hotel Dixie. Cash and recommendations for restaurants.

I am aching to add a joke of some kind here, but I'll just let this one be.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I am thinking

about just hanging it up and providing a mirror to Amitava Kumar's site.

The Web would be left with an alarming dearth of juvenile, unfunny jokes re: fecal matter and/or sexual situations, though. Who would step in to fill the void?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

No pictures of Britney's twat here

Why not make it a perfectly mirth-free week?
Check this out and observe Josh Marshall, whose prose usually matches the tone of his banner photo (eyebrows wryly raised & forehead slightly wrinkled, ready to wonk the crap out of Social Security privatization), string together the adjectives "noxious," "risible," and "fetid" with nary a pause for refreshment. And not unfairly so. Not unfairly so.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

marginal dollar

It's rare that such an intense admiration for a writer and such a spittle-inducing frustration with her words coexist in my soft & misshapen head. I know it's just an honest and human yowl, and mostly a frustrated blog post about Iraq.* Plus, everybody wants to give the pious a good cockpunch. But come on. There's plenty of low-hanging fruit for you do-gooders, and none of it involves marching.

This is true even if you're fucking stupid, breathtakingly lazy, and possessed of only the wherewithal to plop your gym-toned asses on your Brno chairs and give money. I'd like to create a site called "Marginal Dollar." It would employ a small team of smartypants economists & epidemiologists & such to identify a weekly Worthy Recipient of one's donations. The choice would be as scientific as possible but ultimately one of arbitrary taste. Usually small programs but not necessarily. Click to donate. Leave the thinkin' to others, who will be wrong much of the time but right some of the time. At the moment, it's hard to go wrong giving money to "orphan disease" mitigation programs like those for childhood helminth infections, expansion of DOTS TB control programs, &c.

I know it may sound like I've sipped the Public Health Kool-Aid. But it's hard to ignore that self-righteous pricks like Jeffrey Sachs are right (in overall message, even if you argue with the details): international health is grossly, obscenely underfunded. Though we may rightly gnash our teeth about Iraq, malnutrition and disease are the biggest evils in the world. That is staggeringly obvious. And it's not only recalcitrant and/or malevolent geopolitical forces that dictate outcomes. A huge part of it is simply money.

It is incredibly pathetic that Bill Gates has revolutionized the scope of public health research through his donations. To repeat myself, it is incredibly pathetic that the payroll of the AL East is half the annual budget for the WHO. It is incredibly pathetic that the CGIAR network loses core funding from country donors every year. It is incredibly pathetic that two days of US military spending in Iraq would be sufficient to meet the annual spending goals set to wipe out TB & thus save 2 million lives a year. The only silver lining is that marginal dollars count. Marginal dollars that you can give, and that might actually do something useful besides making Sally Struthers stop weeping.

Look, I oversimplify, and I am not arguing that we should remove attention from Iraq. But what little I've said is true. Give me that. And give me your money so I can buy some small-batch bourbon instead of this rail "whiskey," which I'm pretty sure is just ethanol.

*State-sponsored violence, and violence in general, arouses more outrage than state-condoned passivity in the face of massive human suffering. Easier to let a man get hit by a train than to push him in front of it. Maybe this makes ethical sense. I dunno.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I invented four things in my sleep

  • A donut shaped like a sea urchin with spines of crystalline caramel.
  • A baseball preening ritual wherein one ostentatiously places one's Oakley wraparound shades atop home plate for subsequent retrieval following one's 360-foot home run trot.
  • A "lost" Gunter Grass novel about rabbits, along the lines of Watership Down.
  • A new kind of stripey pants.

This is the blogging equivalent of mentioning in conversation that your muscles are sore, or that you actually don't care for Cornish hens. Id est, nobody cares, I think.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Choose Your Own Adventure

You and your brother push aside the rusty grating, and descend into the inky blackness. To the left, you see a faint glowing. To the right, it is pitch black, but you hear a Latin drumbeat that evokes Tito Puente.

If you want to head to the left, turn to page 14.

If you feel the "ritmo" of the right, turn to page 87.

[no subject]

You don't need a blog named "Corn Chips and Pie" to tell you that time passes quickly, more quickly than any of us can understand. But blogs exist to generate superfluous syllables. So.

When I lived in Washington, D.C., I knew a beautiful lady named Cora. She was born in Maryland, on a tobacco farm, during World War I. At the very end of her life, when she had lost almost everything she had ever known, she somehow retained her kindness and social grace.

She had Alzheimer's, and went through periods in which she could remember the dress she wore when she learned her father had died of a heart attack (she was in a cornfield with her sister), but could not remember where she was. She was in a nursing home with flickering fluorescent lights and yellowing linoleum, surrounded by caring but numb Ethiopian nurses.

Thus, when she expressed sincere bewilderment at the disappearance of tobacco farms and the ascendance of strip malls in Maryland and Virginia, it was plain that Alzheimer's was not to blame. "What happened to all the farms?" she asked, wide-eyed. Memory loss? No. She remembered every year of her life up to around the turn of the century. She spent most of her life as the maid for a piano salesman. "A Jewish man. He was always very kind to me. As white people go, I have no complaints with the Jews. Always very kind."

No, she remembered everything: the second world war, the postwar boom, the civil rights movement, the sneaky creep of incomprehensible technology. But she could not understand how the landscape of her childhood-- of her adolescence, of her adulthood, for God's sake-- could be so transformed. I myself only have anecdotal evidence of this. Once was a sorghum field, now it's a Linens & Things. You got it; you got it. But just drive west on 66 from DC. Or explore 'round Gaithersburg. Even if you never saw what came before, you will get a feeling in your marrow. An unpleasant feeling.

But the ethics & aesthetics of suburban sprawl are totally irrelevant. Cora was utterly bewildered, scared even, at the changes wrought upon her world. And she died-- Cora died alone, through no fault of her distant relatives who did their part-- alienated and dizzied, but with a subtle, straight-backed defiance. She broke institutional rules by using Scotch 3M double-sided tape to mount prints of fruit-bowl still lifes. She complained about the unruly sycamore trees, left untrimmed outside her 5th-floor window. She clucked and shook her head at coverage of the DC sniper. Muhammad and Malvo were sniping from former irrigation ditches, from outbuildings, from stands of fencerow dogwoods.

Cora never got married, and convinced me that she was happy with the decision. There was one man in particular, a man with whom she'd had a 15-year relationship, but it just was never quite right. He'd died. Her old boss had died. Many of her relatives had died. Time just flew right by, and she never really got a handle on things, and now there was an Outback Steakhouse in her daddy's back 40, and there you go.


I never thought I would say this, but the 49ers lost to an inferior team today.

I have lived in several major metropolitan areas: SF, DC, NY, and now Baltimore. In 3/4 of those cities, it was easy to find natives who didn't give a flying fig about their sports teams. Most sane people would argue that this is a sign of a healthy, vibrant community. Still. It's nice to be in a city where the bars are packed on Sundays with purple #52 jerseys. People love their Ravens, and hate them too. It was 24-0 in the 4th quarter today, and the crusty old guy next to me was bitching about McNair to general approval. He threw me a bone by reciting half the roster of the 1947 San Francisco 49ers-- the team that beat the Colts 14-7 in Kezar Stadium half a century ago.

I am finding that I love Baltimore.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I am thankful for Rickey. Pay him.

I am thankful for Lindsay. The Altmans are surely smiling through their tears.

I am not thankful for Blogger. Why are my posts invisible sometimes? Why didn't I use Typepad?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Late nite man-nuggets (Ayn Rand, cigar, football, 007)

  • From the Washington Monthly: "The Gingrichites were a bunch of high school kids who got hooked on Ayn Rand and then forgot to grow out of it. They had obsessive personalities but no serious experience of the world, and this toxic combination led to a genuine, sincere, completely delusional belief that Atlas Shrugged wasn't a monomaniacal flight of fancy, but a blueprint for society that could actually be put into practice. They were the guys who rant from soapboxes in Hyde Park, but with nice suits and silk ties."
  • I am smoking a small cigar right now. I cannot tell if I enjoy it.
  • The 49ers are now 5-5, one game out of first place in the NFC West, and all across the country, Niners fans have turned to their friends and said "Hey, they could make the playoffs." All these fans attempted to convey withering irony when uttering this absurdity, but they overdid it a little, and if you looked in their eyes, there was an insane little gleam, and tiny droplets of Anchor Steam were flying out of their mouths. This is a 7-9 team, foax. I swear.
  • I quite enjoyed Casino Royale, but I looked at my ticket stub, and the truncation of the title evoked what might have been an even better movie: "Casino Roy." Starring Alex Karras and Fred Willard.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

'nother note

Just a brief word before I get back to whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing:
There is a very distinct type of person who is very common in Baltimore. He is very thin, maybe heroin-thin, maybe just morning wine & Utz potato chips thin. He has a long ponytail and a cigarette. He has a black tanktop with dried paint on it, and he has tattoos. He has a baseball cap. He may be a contractor. He has three teeth. He is Caucasian, but his skin is really the color of bloody clay.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


This is a big-tent country for people with unusual obsessions and fantasy lives. For the most part, America condones and even encourages all kinds of stupid single-mindedness among those with disposable incomes. All part of the gorgeous tapestry of life, etc. There's nothing wrong with it, unless you are a Chris Ware character whose life is ravaged by a lifelong devotion to action figures. But I presumptuously offer one suggestion.

If you find yourself Googling "Matt Houston fan fiction", you might stop and consider whether your unhappiness and your hobby have a common causal antecedent. And, hey, maybe you could try to wipe the slate clean. Start over. (There are several of you out there, so take heart.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Go balloons!

Biggest douchebag. Hmm. There were so many spectacular douchebags in this campaign, it would be unfair to pick a winner. But I am unfair. I pick George Allen. Sweet as it was to see Rick Santorum's retarded children weep onstage Tuesday night, it was even sweeter to watch George Allen concede this afternoon.

And it isn't just his racism that earns him the bag-- it is carrying that fucking football wherever he goes. Hey, there he is, tossing the ol' pigskin around before he votes! Hey, let's have a little catch at Rosa Parks' funeral! And of course, just before his concession speech, he whips out the football & tosses a little girly-armed dying quail to a supporter. What an asshole.

And I should know. George Allen and I are both effete aristocrats who wield football talk in much the same manner that Ian Faith wielded a cricket bat-- as an affectation. The common folk love the NFL, I'm told, and so I keep it real with a few 49ers* references.

*Who are moving to Santa Clara, home of office parks and guys named Marshall with job titles like Solutions Coxswain.

I didn't mean THAT, but now that you mention it...

Holy Toledo.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ken Mehlman got beat up a lot as a kid

Share with me, if you will be so kind, a restrained fist-pump. Gently close your eyes, tilt your head slightly downward, ball your fingers into a fist, and slowly tuck your elbow in to your side.

If you are a lawyer, I think that it would be fun for you to head to Virginia or Montana to do pro bono work. It's like sprinting down from your $45 seats at the MCI center, anxious to start scrappin', because your Brendan Haywood is trading surreally long, whip-like swings with an Atlanta Hawk.

Just watch out for Rove; you don't wanna end up like that Pistons fan who thoughtfully provided his fat head as a punching bag for Ron Artest. My suggestion is this: throw beer at Rove and make him charge you, then feign a mental disability.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nuggety clusters

  • No reason to be optimistic, other than a refusal to let the Republicans sap all hope from this country. Vote early, drink immediately afterward.
  • This whole Borat thing is totally overhyped. I mean, what, exactly, is funny about a naked hairy man with fat-pillows shoving his nutsack into another naked hairy man's face? What's so funny about bringing a small bag of feces down from the bathroom at a formal Southern dinner party? What is so funny about the line, "all other countries have inferior potassium"? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing funny about those things. Best movie ever ever.
  • 49ers: I stand, resolute, at the prow of this 3-5 ship. A stiff wind of derision blows. My hair is flatteringly ruffled. I squint at the horizon, and see the Lions, Rams, Packers, and Cardinals on the schedule. My cruel mouth twists into a slight smirk. 7-9 ho!
  • Not to get too navely gazey (recall, however: this is a blog), but I thought I'd recap last week's structured blogging experiment. Monday: workmanlike and unspectacular. Tuesday: I liked my joke. Wednesday: running on empty, I turned to Jack Evans. Thursday: a really weak finish. Friday: let's just pretend I posted on Friday. Verdict: "structure" and "form" are like barbed wire fences to the gamboling chestnut mare of my creativity.

Let's start your week off right

Great world we live in here. Kudos all around. Nice one.

"In one course, an advanced trauma treatment program he had taken before deploying, he said, the instructors gave each corpsman an anesthetized pig.

“The idea is to work with live tissue,” he said. “You get a pig and you keep it alive. And every time I did something to help him, they would wound him again. So you see what shock does, and what happens when more wounds are received by a wounded creature.”

“My pig?” he said. “They shot him twice in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, and then six times with an AK-47 and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. And then he was set on fire.”

“I kept him alive for 15 hours,” he said. “That was my pig.”"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday: reading, watching, doing, wanking

Such a fucking lackluster topic. I should have called an audible & done something else, but I just want to be done with it. The schedule-based blogging experiment ends this weekend.

So. I can recommend the following media/consumer experiences, experiences of which I am currently availing myself:
Re-reading is all I can muster while in school. Now re-reading: Joan Didion's Where I Was From, Lloyd Brown's The Story of Maps, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Listening to early Stones-- Aftermath, Out of Our Heads. Also Can, Ted Leo, The Vines. Recent theater movies: The Prestige (good), The Departed (great). Recent Netflix: Duck Soup, Easy Rider, Aliens. Just consumed a nice Barolo with a lorazepam. Also: try to reach your personal ceiling for garlic consumption. 'Sfun.

I also recommend making a pomander ball whilst watching the Warriors lose game 1 of their season. It is very soothing.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday: Esto es "topical humor"

The blogger's crutch, the easy laff. Everyone does it; it's ok. Sometimes, you know, you just need a cheap & quick post for the ol' Hump Day.* So you take a headline from the paper, add a joke involving hot anal sex, water sports, or an "edgy" racial jab, and your work is done for the day. I'm going to break our blogging appointment today, though, because I am even lazier than that, and because P.W. Botha died, and I wanted to just remind you of this: Ninety years of life are rarely wasted on somebody less deserving. Here's a nice valediction.

*There's this character I occasionally slip into when speaking with my brother and a couple of friends, who respond in kind. His name is Jack Evans. He is a businessman. He speaks loudly on the telephone. He says things like "just shoot me an email" and "I'm gonna bounce a couple of ideas off you" and "I hear that, buddy." When picking up the phone, he says "Jack Evans." He talks about "working for the weekend" and "cracking open a cold one," but when he is working, he is all business. He may be funny only to me & my coterie.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday: As promised, a delightfully amusing juxtaposition of "high" culture and "low" culture

This was always the surefire formula for laffs in McSweeney's. Start with a shank of Wittgenstein, season with Cool Ranch Doritos or forgotten sitcom stars of the 1980s, and you've got yourself a McSweeney's List. You are now a published author.

A List Of Rejected McSweeney's Lists:
Characters In Gaddis Novels Whose Names Sound Like Major League Soccer Teams
Eight Sandwiches Leni Riefenstahl Enjoyed Eating
Heads Of State Whom I Could Beat In A Fistfight
Discarded Names For Godel's Incompleteness Theorem
Alfred North Whitehead's Favorite Sexual Positions
Track & Field Events In Which Nan Goldin Could Defeat Lou Reed
Brecht Plays Reconceptualized As Archetypes From The 1986 Celtics

Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday: Deportes

Just in under the wire here. I nearly broke our appointment.

  • The Bears are who we thought they were. The 49ers are much worse than I thought they were. A man fitting my description was sighted around Baltimore Friday evening, drunkenly guaranteeing that the Niners would beat the absurd spread. I have since fired my offensive coordinator.
  • But what do I know? I don't add value. When it comes to football, I am merely a conduit for received wisdom. I might gussy it up a bit. Slap a little lipstick on the tart's cold sores, that sort of thing. But I can't do much more than recite things like, "This is the National Football League, and you can't turn the ball over five times and expect to djflkh; ab asfd ;kl etc."
  • A few utterly arbitrary names for you to savor, just to help you get through the autumn and winter before pitchers and catchers report: Charlie Kerfeld. U.L. Washington. Napoleon Lajoie. Billy North. Chet Lemon. Bump Wills.
  • Billy Beane doesn't want to, but he should hire Ron Washington anyway. Washington's endless carousel through sham interviews as the Token Negro is becoming embarrassing for all parties save Washington himself. He's managing to muster dignity from what must surely be a bottomless reserve. Hire Wash.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A new, flexible agenda

Uncle Grambo, the genial proprietor of, came up with a rather clever idea... just as I was coming up with the same idea, honest. It's kind of like Darwin & Wallace, if Darwin were a popular blogger and Wallace were an obscure blogger. And if Wallace were dangerously handsome & lithe as a panther. With pretty good teeth. So anyway, I think I'll appropriate this idea for a week & see if it motivates me to blog.

  • Monday: Sports talk. Those indifferent to sports may use Monday to view other websites of interest to them, such as this one or this one.
  • Tuesday: A delightfully amusing juxtaposition of "high" culture and "low" culture, with surprising results.
  • Wednesday: A reference to an item in the news, followed by absurd embellishments.
  • Thursday: An enthusiastic recommendation of a book, movie, or album. With jokes.
  • Friday: Grab bag! Either 1) an offbeat anecdote involving a minor incident in my life, or 2) a sincere rant directed at the latest revelation of malfeasance by the current administration.

I hope you like the new format. Please use the comments section below if you object.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Corn Chips and... Fly!

You probably saw this story in the New York Times the other day. Maybe you read it on your laptop in the morning over a steaming latte, as your sexual partner did yoga & sunlight streamed in through the windows of your studio apartment. Perhaps a "hepcat" friend of yours emailed it to you-- a gentle jab, a sarcastic reminder of the predictability of your consumption habits. Perhaps your 42-year-old graphic designer pal emailed you the story because you guys hit Starbucks and "Akeelah and the Bee" together a few months ago. Or maybe you caught a glimpse of the story while stuffing crumpled newspaper into the package of crystal unicorns you're sending to the boys over in Fallujah. Whatever.

The point is that I've been meaning to do the same thing here. You know, to position myself as a "purveyor of premium-blend culture." You like Corn Chips & Pie? You'll love, uh, whatever it is that I'm trying to get rid of. Maybe old copies of Thucydides from freshman year, or a crappy Ikea colander, or some wadded-up paper towels I just found under the sink. How about the second Cibo Matto album?

Actually, a lot of bloggers sort of already do this. You know, the "Books read recently" or "Movies seen lately" section. But I think I'll market mine as premium compilations:
Corn Chips and... Jazz!
Corn Chips and... Chick Lit!
Corn Chips and... Race-Baiting Propaganda!
Corn Chips Goes To The Movies!
Cooking With Corn Chips!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Epidemiology jokes

Epidemiology jokes! This one's for all you epidemiologists, feverishly Googling the evening before your big seminar, searching for a little icebreaker-- a little nugget of self-deprecating humor to win the crowd over. Show them you're not some pointy-headed stiff. Do you like to laugh? Everybody likes to laugh! Laughter is the best medicine.

I get a fair amount of Google hits on this site for "epidemiology jokes" for some reason, so I thought I'd cater to this important demographic. Here is a comprehensive list of epidemiology jokes:

Fuck you, parasites. Make up your own goddamn jokes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halloween costume

sexy cat, definitely sexy cat
or maybe sexy devil
or perhaps sexy witch
something sexy

Mission statement

There is no excuse. Sure, I'm busy, saving lives millions at a time. Which really means saving disability-adjusted life-years, millions at a time, within a 95% confidence interval that includes near its lower bound "creating torture camps for disadvantaged children, millions at a time."

So the blog languishes. [Will "blog" go the way of "virtual reality" and "'zine" and "cyberspace" and "wraps" and "def" and "not so much"? If so, I will rechristen this an "avatar niche" or a "web-site" or a "narcissist habitat."] Where are my fucking priorities?

Here. That's where they are. It's go-time. Kick tires, light fires. Lock & load. I exist for the sole purpose of providing momentary diversion from unfulfilling lives. Time to embrace it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lazy blogger / Casanova

Pretty much all Trigger Happy TV is ok by me, but here's one of my favorites.

Ok, one more: Michael the Human Onion from a post-Trigger Happy show.

Via Slack LaLane, Hal McRae's "stupid-ass questions" rant. Bleeped, so perfectly safe for work.*

Colbert in Strangers With Candy.

*You're a dockside whore, right? I forget.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Poor man's Dust Congress

From a fascinating conversation between Nichole Argo and Omar Amanat in this fall's Bomb:

Argo: Rather than "I'll fight to win," a sort of rational cost-benefit strategy, the logic is moral-emotional: "I'll fight because it is the right thing to do; because what they are doing is wrong; because I cannot live with myself if I accept their actions." ...the data show that most jihadis did not come to the jihad through religion, or through indoctrination. They come through family and friends. The motivation is communal.

Amanat: ...the global fault lines in the "war on terror" do not fall along ideological, economic, or political lines but on emotional perceptions of humiliation of members of a group, especially as perceived and exacerbated through the lens of mediated reality.

On an entirely different note, the cover of Bomb features my new favorite photograph, a Tod Papageorge shot of Central Park in 1969 featuring three dogs sniffing one another's asses in an equilateral triangle of olfactory delight while a woman glares at them in pinched, glum disapproval. The thumbnail shot online does not provide enough resolution for one to fully appreciate the glory of this photo. If you're wondering what to get CC&P for the non-denominational holiday season, here's a hint: a giant framed print of that photo.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Andy Rooney Jelly Time

I got nothing. So, some suggested moratoriums:

  • On reading comment threads. On any website. It's just soul-crushingly depressing.
  • On a) cutesy self-deprecation or b) ironic triumphalism when pointing out one's animations and/or graphic embellishment in a Powerpoint presentation.
  • On the proper usage of "beg the question." Nobody uses it properly, and the true meaning isn't half as useful as the commonly intended meaning.
  • On wearing coonskin caps with jodhpurs. Um, hello? 2005 called. It wants its coonskin cap & jodhpurs back.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Road to 7-9, Week 5

The difference-makers need to step up & make plays today. There's no question that in the National Football League, you've got to play physically and execute. You gotta play to win, not to "not lose." The team that minimizes the run and sets up turnovers by opening up the penetration is gonna win 9 times out of 10. The crowd has so many weapons, and you've got to dominate the red zone in the National Football League. No question.

Nobody cares about this game. If the Niners don't win, I think I'll just watch old clips of the glory years on YouTube for the rest of this season. (1981 NFC Championship game: The Catch. Montana, Clark, Walsh, Landry, some fans at Candlestick in serious pimp garb... and Vin Scully calling the game.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Small sample size

The thing about the Yankees: sure, a $200 million payroll can buy you the best lineup ever assembled, and this can help you win during the regular season. But this approach just doesn't work in the playoffs, which are all about intangibles like, uh, chemistry & grit & clutchiness & streakiness & leadership & smallball & dark matter. That's why the A's are going to the ALCS.

My condolences to Yankees fans like PD, the knowledgeable non-gloaters. To the others, I offer a commemorative pink NY cap and a punch-me-in-the-throat smug smile.


Buck O'Neil.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Viva Foley!! Viva Foley!!

Have you had enough Foley? I haven't.

  • I'm excited today, because I am only two degrees of separation from Mark Foley (R-FL). My friend ZG's friend, a former congressional aide, reports meeting Foley at a party & subsequently receiving suggestive emails from him. This aide was 24 at the time, with a lean, muscular frame and a cute, puckered asshole. The Democratic Party owes much to this brave aide, who-- in resisting Foley's charms-- denied Foley the opportunity to transfer his erotic energies away from minors and toward a healthy, consensual gay relationship.
  • This is pretty funny (via Lindsayism).
  • The longer Hastert fights this one out, the better, I think. Good to have Republicans backstabbing & fractured as long as possible before the election.
  • There are some truly desperate suggestions & accusations being floated by Republicans right now-- it reminds me of a dying soldier firing his M-16 wildly in the air. My favorites: 1) This is the Democrats' fault for coddling gays. 2) This is the pages' fault. We need to abolish the page program. 3) George Soros is to blame.
  • Actually, CH points out that while these suggestions may be ludicrous, it might be time to re-examine the nude, greased page program.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


  • So it seems Hastert is toast.
  • It should bother me that the Foley flap gets much of its fuel from good ol' fashioned gay panic, but it just doesn't. It makes me even happier. Some of my reasons are outlined here.
  • What kind of country is it when a right-wing Christian congressman can't stroke his chubby whilst IMing with pageboys, cabin boys, houseboys, pool boys, tallboys, highboys, batboys, bellboys, busboys, choirboys, ploughboys, schoolboys, flyboys, homeboys, & Perth Amboys without people gettin' all up in his grill about it?
  • I'm sorry I set your nephew on fire & then invaded a geopolitically volatile country with no postwar plan in place. I'm checking into rehab. Are we cool?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We have much to discuss, you and I

  • Mark Foley (R-FL) has lent credence to SS's longtime view that all Republicans are pederasts, and that they will make your children gay. There is no reason for the Democrats to employ any other message before the midterm election.
  • Felipe Alou is leaving the Giants, leaving the managerial position open for Denny Hastert.
  • The 49ers were destroyed, devoured, digested, and defecated by the Chiefs. I maintain that they're better than they looked, and that they will rise like a mighty 7-9 phoenix.
  • It has emerged that Condoleeza Rice was given a Powerpoint presentation by Mohammed Atta that presented every detail of the 9/11 plot, down to the date & time. Unfortunately, he employed too many unnecessary transition animations, his slides were overly detailed with a tiny font, and he read directly off the slides. Consequence? The core message was lost.
  • I'd like to thank Michelin for awarding my restaurant three stars again; who says fellatio don't pay?
  • Right now, anticipation of the Borat movie is the only thing keeping me alive. If it meets my impossibly high expectations, then it will have exceeded my meta-expectations.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Exchange rate

In denying that Terrell Owens tried to kill himself yesterday, his publicist Kim Etheredge said "Terrell has 25 million reasons to live," a reference to the size of his contract.

This means that a super chicken burrito from El Castillito on Market & Church in San Francisco is about 4.95 reasons to live. This seems about right.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And Introducing... Joe Don Baker

If I ever find the man responsible for preventing me from seeing Cool Hand Luke until now, I will make him pay dearly.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

No question

There's no question. There's no question.

Late Update: there may be some question. Remain alert.

The Wide World of Sports

Sunday musings on matters relating to athletics:

  • I love Milton Bradley and I also love Ken Macha for putting him in a bear hug and carrying him away from a possible manslaughter charge. Though the photo doesn't show it, Macha actually lifted Bradley off the ground while Bradley's legs kicked in comical fury.
  • Worst, least compelling SF Giants team since 1996. I root for the uniform, not the men inside. Shea Hillenbrand, Steve Finley, Armando Benitez, Lance Niekro, Randy Winn, Jason Ellison, several others: please go away next year. Pedro Feliz, please stick around just so I can affectionately hate you.
  • Wrt the road to 7-9: life is nothing but a series of self-improvement efforts, right? I feel like I'm not an attentive enough football fan, so I'm thinking about joining a fantasy league. I want to have an effortless understanding of stuff like Philly's D-line rotation so I can predict the effect of Jevon Kearse's injury on the pass rush today. Only then will I be tolerated by my associates at various water-coolers of which I might choose to avail myself. My ascot, velvet pants, and pince-nez set me at a considerable disadvantage when attempting to "rap" with the "fellas," and I need every trick I can muster.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blog is void

Two monks were arguing about whether their train was moving. One said: “Our train is moving.” The other said: “The train on the tracks next to us is moving.” The Sixth Patriarch happened to be walking down the aisle. He asked them: “Would I look good in short shorts?”
-Red Boldface

[Wu-hsin] is a state of wholeness in which the mind functions freely and easily, without the sensation of a second mind or ego standing over it with a club.
-Alan Watts, The Way of Zen

Corn Chips & Pie is nothing if not a manifestation of this club. But all this regulating and grasping exhausted me & left me at a breaking point. At first, I tried to drop all self-consciousness and pretense, all stratagems and striving, all purposeful thought. In a classic blunder, I redirected my endeavors toward the pursuit of spontaneity. But then I realized that I was like the monk riding a horse in search of the horse. I am Buddha-nature already. There is nothing but CC&P, and CC&P is nothing. It follows, of course, that everything is former A's outfielder Dwayne Murphy. The reader can easily see that Dwayne Murphy can only exist in relation to his opposite, Frank Bruni critic Jules Langbein. If Langbein is the Antichrist, then we must fight her with everything we've got. But frankly, I don't have the stomach for a protracted fight. So I think I'm pretty much gonna stay the course; there's too much uncertainty in all this philosophizing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick hits from a crab-shell pipe

  • Tableau: a Baltimore city bus crosses an intersection. The intersection appears to be within a disaster area: boarded-up houses, trash, homeless junkies. The side of the bus has an ad for The Wire, which is set in Baltimore and is a source of not inconsiderable pride here: "They fought a war on drugs. The drugs won." Above the intersection, mounted on a pole, the word "BELIEVE" adorns a 24-hour security camera with a hellish, blinking, blue light.
  • Never wash anything. Washing only ruins things. Vibrant colors fade, elasticity is lost, length is contracted, midriffs become exposed, phone numbers become blurred beyond recognition. Filthiness is integrity.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Riding with the rich

The Special Lady lives in NY, and I live in Baltimore. Hence: travel. From my previous stint in DC, I have become achingly familiar with all modes of transport from this region to Manhattan, and I can assure you that they are not equal in quality.

Worst: Greyhound. Not even close. Do you like hanging out in the DC Greyhound terminal? Do you like delays & defective buses? Do you like being slapped in the face by a defective restroom door? Do you like inhaling vaporized urine while your seatmate crashes from his methamphetamine high and starts to angrily poke you with his erect penis? Do you like bus drivers who take breaks from driving on I-95 to grab a pack of smokes at the Chesapeake House rest stop? If so, Greyhound is for you.

Second-worst: Chinese/Jewish bus. Can be good, but quality is highly variable. Taking the bus from Baltimore is a serious bitch, however, as it requires hanging out in the "Travel Plaza."

Third-worst: Driving. And here we're talking about driving my 1989 Honda Civic with 243,000 miles on it. Music/radio options are technologically limited to my lone remaining tape (R.E.M.'s "Eponymous") or Mike and the motherfucking Mad Dog. You see the problem.

Fourth-worst: Flying. Gone are the days of the cheap & quick DC-NYC shuttle, sadly.

Least Worstest: Amtrak. So easy. Silky-smooth. Penn Station to Penn Station. And so damned expensive. Seatmates are drawn from a different social stratum than are Greyhound seatmates. It was almost parodic. My seatmate on the way up was a headshrinker who was writing her keynote speech (about "countertransference") for some headshrinker conference. On the way down, it was a amiably roly-poly opera lover of Chinese descent who spoke with a thick Jamaican accent. He was a Kingston-raised NIH biochemist who jets up to NY every weekend to catch opera. He kept forcing me to listen to his Bose noise-canceling headphones & then he explained the plots of Carmen and Parsifal to me. He nearly wept when quoting scenes of particular emotional content. Now: compare him to Mr. Poky Poky on Greyhound.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I run for half an hour to catch rabbit. Cunning rabbit.

I was watching Down By Law the other night (and, by the way-- the "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream" scene gives me more unbridled glee than any other scene in movies, except for perhaps the occasional Jackie Chan stunt). Anyhow, there was a knock on my window & it was a blogger pal, whose visitation was one of the odd, geeky, & pleasant consequences of having started this blog. But upon hearing the knock, I assumed it was a crack addict. I live in an alley; in fact, I am the only person on my block, and thus a focal point for the streams of homeless guys who flow up & down my alley like ions along a copper wire. They forage through garbage & mutter to themselves & to me, also much like ions along a copper wire. So you see, the simile is excellent.

When I moved in, I threw away many items, among them a spiral notebook with a pretty picture of a pony on it. I'd bought this notebook in Kampala, Uganda, when I needed something for a journal, but never used it. The cover said something like "Dare To Dream." One of the homeless guys wandering up my alley was clutching this notebook several days later. I know it makes no sense, but I felt an odd start & then a kind of kinship with this guy, since we'd both picked out the same item in vastly differing circumstances.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Pop quiz: what is the relationship between these two items? 1) In Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude, the lead characters bear the ponderously laden names of Dylan Ebdus (white Jewish wedge for gentrification) and Mingus Rude (promising black student turned crack addict prisoner). 2) Near the end of Fortress of Solitude, Lethem says something like "Things are what they are, no matter how many names they have." Write your answers in strict mathematical notation and present them to me after class along with your phone number and a nude photo.

Here in Baltimore, symbolism is outré. Right? How else would you explain a bar called exactly what it is: The Drinkery? Before I moved here, DR talked up The Drinkery, telling me that if it still exists, I must check it out. And so I did. Before entering, I remembered a few of her desciptors of the place: "sleazy," "shithole," "place where a dozen men sag from their barstools in a stupor that transcends mere drunknness and achieves a kind of freedom from the cycle of grasping and desire." Of course, I'd forgotten "gay," which lacuna in my memory was immediately filled upon entering the place. My ear was also filled, but with a red-nosed man's tongue rather than with anything from memory's well. Once is enough, thanks. And besides, Baltimore is not exactly lacking other dive bars to explore.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Road to 7-9, Week 2

I didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's 49ers-Cardinals game. Most respectable football fans would not couch it in those terms, but would say something like "I eschewed yesterday's 49ers-Cardinals game." Nonetheless-- and notwithstanding the billion-to-one odds given the Niners to win the Super Bowl-- I predict respectability for this year's squad.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Keeping energetic & healthy

Main Ingredients: Rye, purple yam, pumpkin seed, red unpolished rice, pasture, grape seed, ginseng, pearl barley, snow lotus, pearl, green unpolished rice, spinach, blueberry, wheat germ, red flat bean, rapeseed, wild rice, burdock, green lily flower, oat, black bean, pearl rice, osmanthus, black sesame, lotus root, astralagus henryl, red berry, seaweed, bitter melon, lily bulb, green tea, red pearl barley, black fungus, gingko nut, cranberry, chrysanthemum, laver, apple chip, red berry, buckwheat, and glucose.

Additives: Soy lecithin, vita yeast powder, Chinese caterpillar fungus, calcium lactate, etc.

I call bullshit. Everyone knows you're not supposed to mix astralagus henryl and Chinese caterpillar fungus. And what's with the "etc."? Is the remainder of the series meant to be self-explanatory? "...magnesium difulsurpantsinate, tortoise sweat, apricot, yellow no. 7, meat."

"The addition of milk or juice will make it have a unique flavor."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


A natural conclusion to draw from a) the recent silence here and b) recent news would be that I am/was Steve Irwin. Coincidentally, I did just remove a stingray spine from my heart; however, I am alive and well. Blogging will resume in good time, in good time.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I think I saw Lenn Sakata working at a gas station

Thank you for sticking by CC&P in this dark time of transition and minimal posting. You will each receive a CC&P bumper sticker and commemorative tapir pelt as recompense for your loyalty.

So, yeah, the corporate headquarters of Corn Chips & Pie has moved to Baltimore. Baltimore is a city that takes its slogans seriously; buildings and benches and homeless people are festooned with whichever marketing mantra has most recently given the Chamber of Commerce a boner. The previous mottos of the city, "The Greatest City In The World" and "The City That Reads," have been shelved in favor of "Get In On It"-- a penetrative metaphor stinking of real estate hype. For a city that boasts the highest STD rates in the solar system, "Get In On It But Use Kevlar Condoms" might be more appropriate. Meanwhile, the omnipresent and vague "Believe" signs remain, spooking the shit out of me.

Just a couple of things to report before I scurry around doing logistical things:

  • As I walked down the street, some dude pulled his pickup over next to me, and asked, "Hey man, need some glass?" His truck was filled with windowpanes that were most likely liberated from some nearby row houses.
  • The local market has a food stall called "O.K. Oriental Food," which is a refreshingly honest advertisement of the food's quality and its ethnic authenticity.

Friday, August 25, 2006

moving to Baltimore

I am getting in on it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sorry; I need to make a "TelePhone" call

As you may have noticed, it is difficult for bloggers, myself included, to refer to the internet without employing some sort of cutesy modification to the term. I do not fully understand why. It's not as if mere reference to the internet is so uncool that irony is required (like plastic baggies for dogshit) to avoid becoming stained by association. This Wikipedia entry on "interweb," which reads like the Onion parody of a Wikipedia entry ("Earlier uses in science fiction of the term include the Babylon 5 episodes..."), will cure you of any desire to join the nerds' smug mockery.

I have failed to settle on a pet term. Possibilities include the following:

  • Famous malapropisms and misapprehensions: "the internets" is a favorite. Also "series of tubes."
  • Apocryphal or invented malapropisms: "interweb," "world wide net," "infranet."
  • Quotation marks: ""internet.""
  • Unnecessary capitalization: "InterNet."
  • Unnecessary hyphenation: "inter-net."
  • Combinations of the above: "Inter-Net," "World-Wide-Infra-Net," "InterWeb."

But I have considered and rejected all of them. I shall call it "Gary."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conspiration terrory

A reasonable response to the Bush administration's cascade of lies is to become suspicious of every official utterance. Unfortunately, this has turned moderates into conspiracy theorists (or, as a friend's window-washer colleague from Hungary once put it, "conspiration terrorists"). Yet another reason to resent the regime.

Take, for example, the recent airline bomb plot scare. Huge scary plot disrupted just in time, or a whole lotta nothing inflated for political purposes? Who can truly say, given the information at our disposal & the admin's track record? Kevin Drum on a USA Today poll showing Bush with his highest approval rating in some time: "'s a sad commentary on the continuing ability of the Republican Party to scare their way to victory. There's very little evidence that the airline bombers were even remotely capable of pulling off their plot, and likewise little justification for the massive fear-mongering and hysterical anti-liquid regulations hastily put in place for air travelers. The risk of terrorists manufacturing binary explosives in the air could almost certainly have been handled in other, more effective ways, and it's increasingly obvious that the government's scare campaign was far out of proportion to the actual immediate danger. The likelihood that it was hyped more for political reasons than for genuine reasons of air safety continues to grow, and someday, when there's a real emergency, this attitude may come back to haunt us."

Least important post so far, stunningly enough

You may want to skip this one if you are pressed for time.

I wish to sort out my confused feelings re: Steely Dan's recent missives to Luke Wilson and Wes Anderson. Often, it can be useful to transfer or "map" information and fundamental relationships from one context to another. Doing so can sometimes help us to break free of habitual neural pathways and to arrive at fresh insights. (See also "log transformation," "metaphor," "rough sex.")

As such, I have composed a simple one-act play. Some background may be required to fully appreciate my work:

  • The two gentlemen who make up the rock group Steely Dan posted an open letter to Luke Wilson on their website. The facetious tone failed to mask glimmers of (a) actual resentment and (b) legitimate cineastic concern. After this letter received a fair bit of attention, Steely Dan posted another letter, this time to Wes Anderson. This letter was a bit more involved, and the joke was more labored (e.g., this post), which was a bit odd, since this kind of attention-getting device is rarely employed by established Famous People. Nonetheless, some bits were sort of right-on.
  • I don't particularly like coleslaw, but I confess that I haven't given it much of a chance.

Bewilderment at 34 Degrees Fahrenheit: a play in one act

(SCENE: interior. An unfancy corner deli in a major American city. The Customer approaches the refrigerated deli case, where various deli meats, cheeses, salads, and Coleslaw are arrayed.)

Coleslaw: I am irritated by Tropicana orange/strawberry/banana juice. Though the flavor combination sounds promising, industrial processing renders the juice insipid.

Customer: I am surprised to hear you speak, coleslaw. I didn't realize you had opinions. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that your opinions concern an item in the beverage case. A condemnation of Boar's Head turkey would have been less jarring.

Coleslaw (emboldened): It is difficult to open the cartons without completely mangling the opening.

Customer: There is truth to what you say. Moreover, it is mildly amusing. Nonetheless, I must respectfully maintain that the beverage of which you speak is refreshing and tasty.

Coleslaw: Tropicana should make cartons of coleslaw.

Customer: Pipe down, chief.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Working at home

Working at home is like drinking coffee with a fork, as Willie Stargell said of hitting against Sandy Koufax. At the moment, I should be renooberating this here Dutch Famine data, a stopgap research task to fill the time & mitigate my debt before moving to Baltimore (!) in five days. But there's something endlessly distracting about one's apartment & its environs.

Lacking a boss to breathe down my neck, I can give my left hand a break from its typically furious alt-tabbing, and browse Christina Rossetti fan fiction in delightful languor. Perhaps I'll scrub the bathtub. Perhaps I'll make a pomander ball. Perhaps I'll cram fistfuls of tuna into inappropriate containers. Perhaps I'll just drool on myself until rivulets of saliva reach the floor. Who can stop me?

Oooh, or I could go outside. Perhaps I'll step outside & join the army of Iggy Pop clones zombie-stepping around Tompkins Square Park, and assist them in their ancient war against the dog-walking yuppies. Or perhaps I'll stop for an espresso at & enjoy the momentary frisson of attention & disappointment as twelve white 28-year-old men glance up from their laptops, hoping that some hot hipster chick will notice their brilliant CAD work. Yes. That is what I will do.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

CC&P goes to the movies

A capsule review of The Descent:
For a Rob Schneider comedy, it is extraordinarily bleak. Although, say, The Hot Chick shied away from portraying troglodytes devouring women alive, The Descent confronts this issue head-on. There are no jokes involving Schneider having sex with unattractive women. Indeed, Schneider himself gets little screen time, which is a wise concession to his selective appeal. In sum: an odd addition to the canon. But did I laugh? I know you like to laugh. Well, in one scene, an Irish spelunker does a pretty funny imitation of The Count from Sesame Street, and I chuckled. Thus: best Rob Schneider comedy of all time.

P.S. No open letters, please. A beating might be OK. But I beg of you: no full-page ads.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Litany of disappointments

  • I read that Tucker Carlson is joining the cast of "Dancing With The Stars." That's a step in the right direction, but they still need to tweak it a bit before I decide to tune in. Lessee... Tucker Carlson, Dennis Miller, and Terry Bradshaw in "Genital Mutilation With The Stars." That I'd watch.
  • When I began this blog a year ago, I fully expected it would catapult me into a dizzying social stratum, like so: within weeks, I am perfunctorily reciting details from the latest book/magazine/mook launch party. God, how wearying it can be to snort cocaine from Sabina Sciubba's navel every. Fucking. Night. John Ashbery constantly leaves me twenty-minute voicemail rants about expired soy milk. One morning, I apply raw meat to my black eye and chuckle, remembering the previous evening's playful cuffing with Jim Jarmusch & Cynthia Ozick. Sure, it got out of hand, but it was a fun time. A good memory.
  • The disappointment really hadn't hit me until I learned that Dana, when she shut down #1 Hit Song a few weeks ago, received some Omaha steaks in the mail as a retirement gift. Now, I know for a fact that I wouldn't get any God-damn steaks in the mail were I to close up shop here. I might get one wizened strip of marmot jerky, tops.
  • And my car was towed this morning for a fee that exceeds the car's blue-book value by an order of magnitude. What good is a blog if not for impotent lamentations?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Desperation = stinky cologne

Backed into a corner by the same strain of ennui that killed Neville. Only bullets can save me. Cue the CC&P theme music.

  • What is the CC&P theme music? Today, it's the Jim Nabors version of "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." There's a part in there where he goes "whoah-whoah-whoah-whoah"-- it misses mimicry, dodges homage, goes well beyond parody, and arrives at an Uncharted Realm of aural pleasure.
  • I really don't know what to expect with the 49ers this year. I expect them to be better. But how much better? Dare I dream of 8-8? After they finished 4-12 last year, fulfilling my prophecy, I became drunk on power. I began trying to will Jeremy Newberry to drive around with a bullet-proof vest, an assault rifle, a bottle of Grey Goose, and a tape roller for lint removal... just to see if I could do it. Of course, I had attributed causation where there was none. I do control pigeons' minds, though. And I can prove it.
  • My otherwise useless friend AS introduced me to the Fun Fair out in Red Hook (at the end of Court St.) every weekend, which is ripe for having its ethnic character diluted and spoiled if you're in NYC and so inclined. And I know many of you are so inclined. Soccer, pupusas, incredibly delicious and gigantic quesadillas, and good times.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Because I got nothing...

...I quote others.

"I use the '^' once every five years and I’m not even really sure what the '`' or the '}' are supposed to indicate, but I can’t get a decent way to put an '~' over an 'n'. I’m sure the right wingers will quake over the symbolic implications of the 'ñ' on their keyboards, no doubt ruffling their mullets and smudging their camouflage face paint as they sit hunkered down along the southern border with big nets or automatic weapons. But for normal people it’s just a matter of convenience."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

With illusory power comes a comically furrowed brow

My phone's been ringing off the hook this morning. Reporters from the MSM want to know what I'll do with my newfound political power now that I & my associates have knocked Joe Lieberman off the Democratic ticket.

To be honest with you, I don't really know yet. And so I gave completely different answers to the AP, Reuters, the NYT, Al-Jazeera, NME, Teen People, Oprah. But that's ok. That's the way the netroots roll. Contradictory and unreliable, but lightning-fast and democratic.

At first I toyed with ending the Israel-Lebanon conflict with a few judicious online polls and a heavy campaign of linking, but then I thought I might blog the hell out of the sun. See if I can get it to explode. Fuckin' A, man, that'd be awesome.

Monday, August 07, 2006

This will have to do

  • I was never a huge mycophile, but as a kid, I used to spend a lot of time poking around the woods in search of chantarelles, matsutake, morels, porcinis. It just provided an extra bit of purpose & reward to hikes. I haven't yet discovered a city equivalent to that activity, but I have tried substituting the following urban Easter eggs for mushrooms, with mixed results: methamphetamines, pigeon embryos, fresh Whatchamacallits, movie posters for RV, hot dowagers, discarded pork.
  • I felt I played a very strong wingman last night. Speed, stealth, flair, execution were all top-notch. But target selection left something to be desired, as the following quote makes clear: "That man set back progressive dog training twenty years."
  • No baseball talk right now because there's only so much bitching one can do about the San Francisco Giants. It is a maddening team: dull, mediocre, and yet a shameless tease. They will finish 79-83, but the shittiness of the NL West combined with their penchant for occasional flashes of competence (how on earth does Pedro Feliz have 17 home runs? Have you seen him quail at triple-A sliders?) will make me pay attention until late September. The enthusiasm portfolio is being shifted heavily toward Oakland.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I like talking about the weather. It's like talking about having a mouth. "Say, have you noticed my mouth?" "Yes. I have a mouth as well."

The heat wave has generated a national debate over undershirts, with brother pitted against brother. Curious about this magical "undershirt", I just went to the Astor Place Kmart to buy a package of white V-necks. The grand experiment will last 3 days, at which point I will shit or cut bait-- maybe both simultaneously.

Pros: sweat absorption. Less washing required of outer shirts. Tremendous stand-alone potential, with nipples peeking suggestively through the thin cotton fabric. Hello, sailor!

Cons: the new 311 public service campaign in New York has stigmatized the formerly glamorous aesthetic of spousal abuse. Even hotter than without undershirt. Resistant to most known antibiotics, and will spread until vast swaths of flesh are necrotized-- wait, sorry; I always mix up "undershirts" and "nosocomial staph infections."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mindless Pleasures, Mindful Regrets

  • Dana has drawn the curtain over #1 Hit Song. It will be missed.
  • An interview with the incomparable Mr. Geography can be found here.
  • The web editor in charge of the teaser quote for this story faced a difficult choice: a) "It was to honor Petrarch's whim that I chose to climb Mont Ventoux in France," or b) "I perfume my nutsack with Drakkar Noir."
  • The video for "Carrot Rope" looks just like the song sounds. Look, I don't have Slow Century yet, ok?
  • In a parallel universe very near ours in probability space, the Matt Houston movie has just opened to acclaim, and Ashton Kutcher is married to Shelley Long.


  • Billy Beane and Brian Sabean have spoiled my July 31st.
  • Here's one of the funnier things I've read recently, several weeks late.
  • And here's what to do when your asshole friend whips out the Blackberry. I once went to a natural history museum in Ulan Bator where there was a hedgehog in a cardboard box & a designated hedgehog pokin' stick for self-evident purposes. It was awesome.
  • Many towns construct their identities around One Thing. Come visit Leggett, CA, where you can drive through a redwood tree! Stop by Tillamook, OR: cheese! Visit Chiaravalle, birthplace of Maria Montessori! The prostitutes of Homestead, FL are 39% syphilis-free! Etcetera. Well, I am pleased to report that Baltimore has more than One Thing. It has crabs, Camden Yards, and John Waters. That's pretty much it. Several additional icons of local pride are tearing up AAA, waiting for September call-ups: Barry Levinson, pit beef, National Bohemian, Hon, and scrap metal theft. They all swing the bat well, but lack plate discipline.
  • I received an alarming email this weekend from the new father of a child named Rufus [the "Work"]. It read, in part: "I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of same, and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future, bitch." No bloodsucking lawyer, friend or otherwise, will intimidate me into changing my screen name. I am Rufus, the Chippy Highboy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

You would think

that a lazy summer with fuck-all to do & forbidding weather would provide fertile soil for this blog to flourish, explode in a profusion of succulent posts, raise its leafy branches toward the sun in vegetal ecstasy. But nope, not really. The most I can muster is changing my screen name. Maybe I'll update my links in a day or two.

In a few days, the yeasty ferment in my head will surely yield a robust wine. Maybe I'll get around to all those things I'd planned to blog about. An interview with Mr. Geography, the Toronto cabbie. Or Morgellons, or A.G. Rizzoli. Or maybe I'll release an anthology of ass jokes. One never knows. Always different, always the same.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Just a coupla suggestions to make your life better

  • Cupcakes: gently insert Magnolia Bakery cupcakes up your ass. They're just fucking cupcakes. Jesus.
  • Gum: Big League Chew, original flavor.
  • Brownies: Cafe Abir at Divisadero & Fulton in SF used to have really good brownies from some bakery or other. Mebbe still does. (And used to have $2 Happy Pappy hours, which simply could not be beaten with a stick. Now it's $3 a pint.) Oh, also Marvelous Market in DC.
  • Cookies: the little polvorones they sell at Cafe Pick Me Up on 9th & A in the East Village. Pecan. Good.
  • Ice cream: Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, on 95 Orchard St. in the Lower East Side, is zer gut.
  • Pie: try Walker's Pie Shop on Solano Avenue in Albany, just north of Berkeley. 'Twas owned by the Walkers forever, then sold to an employee who's now owned it forever.
  • Nuts: Mike Krukow on a foul-tip cockshot to Mike Piazza: "Right in the Sacagawea," which was funny because I am six years old.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Visit to Ron Kittle's House of Fancy Salads

It has now been one year since this humble blog was born. Although even my fiercest enemies would allow that I abhor displays of sentimental and boastful self-regard, I shall herewith permit myself the merest dram of retrospective whimsy. Let us recap the Year That Was:

July 2005: A clamor arises spontaneously from the absurdly eclectic group of writers, thinkers, astronauts, and lingerie models that constitutes my inner circle of friends. A new voice is needed, clamors the clamor. The world desperately needs a half-assed mixture of corn chips, pie, sports talk, and self-indulgent twaddle. Reluctantly and with a heavy heart, I start this blog. The resulting sensation evokes the media circus surrounding Frank Stallone's recording debut.

August 2005: After a month of entertaining the masses to the very edge of coma, CC&P makes a splash in the political world by publishing the first pictures of Duke Cunningham's red asshole. "Buoy Toy," indeed.

September 2005: A "very special" month of CC&P, devoted entirely to raising awareness of eczema.

October 2005: CC&P hits a milestone, as its Value Over Replacement Blog hits null.

November 2005: Pretty much dead air. I categorically deny but nonetheless encourage speculation that I was ghostwriting the entire Paris Review while CC&P lay dormant.

December 2005: I briefly allow comments. This proves to be an error in judgment, as my wit and wisdom are outshined, and certain nitpicking motherfuckers insist on "correcting" my "gross errors" and "highlighting" my "blatant plagiarism." No comments!

January 2006: Entertainment Weekly picks CC&P as one of its five "Most Redundant Blogs."

February 2006: Blog fight! Who can forget the fireworks that ensued when I implied that Gawker was nothing more than a conduit for media and pop culture mockery? You would think that this apparently uncontroversial thesis would attract little attention. It's a real shame that zealots seized on the throwaway line about Jessica Coen being a Holocaust denier.

March 2006: Despite repeated assertions in CC&P that Jessica Coen is a Holocaust denier, nobody paid any attention, leading a friend to gently suggest that I stop attempting to manufacture controversy for purposes of publicity.

April 2006: I contemplate changing my blogging name to Rufus the Chippy Highboy, then decide to wait for the right cultural moment.

May 2006: Nothin'. A few crappy jokes, an unpleasant case of dropsy, and evenings spent lancing boils. A dark time.

June 2006: A resurrection of sorts, as Cat Fancy Online links to my post about feline dyspepsia. "Both informative and entertaining," says the redoubtable rag.

I hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have. Spoiler Alert: year #2 may or may not involve a move to Baltimore and ceaseless prattle about crabs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I got spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle / As I go ridin' merrily along

Portishead is still beavering away at its new album, which is rumored to involve the Tunguska meteorite explosion, balloonists, Groucho Marx, and scraps of sub-Tin-Pan-Alley lyrics. Corn Chips & Pie managed to listen to a bootlegged tape of rough cuts, and I can report that Beth Gibbons has adopted an unconvincing Jamaican accent that fits rather poorly with the Leftover Salmon jam-band noodling in the background. Their cover of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" is similarly unexpected and unwelcome.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I am hot enough for ya

"...I allowed myself the rare treat of a satisfied smile." --Graham Greene, Travels With My Aunt

Imagine a time when such things were rationed, savored, meted out with the precision of a titrating lab technician. I can't. The satisfied smile as "rare treat" is as alien to me as the notion of a once-a-year Wonka bar. It's not wartime. We are a people blessed with plenty. I don't exfoliate using a makeshift brush constructed from balsa wood and rationed bulgur wheat. Um, hello. I have a luxury brush with all-natural badger bristles and a walnut no-slip handle. Why not use what God provides? I'm not a goddamn ascetic. We're the greatest nation on earth, and we're at our economic zenith. If we have the means, why not employ them?

So look, I'm not going to apologize for my lack of thrift. Frugality is for pussies. If you want to live like a scuffling desert rodent, hoarding colored string until some imagined apocalypse, go right ahead. I'm going to exfoliate with the implied sanction and backing of a 12 trillion dollar nation-state, and I'm going to stuff my face with an entire box of chocolate-covered blueberries, and I will smoke a bowl & watch the old VHS tape of "The NBA's 100 Greatest Plays," and I'm going to do it with a satisfied goddamn smile on my face. The entire time. All day, all night, smug as a bug in a rug, smiling with an insufferable degree of superiority, daring America's enemies to punch me in the throat.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Re: the glaring lack of jetpack transportation

It is the year two thousand and six, Common Era. Let's get cracking.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Final Mediterranean nuggets

  • Italian women: absolutely brazen and incorrigible. They would stare at me with the intensity of industrial lasers, daring me to glance in their direction, undressing me with their eyes. Then, of course, they would hurriedly re-dress me with their eyes. I would be optically attired with such panicked regret that I'd end up with mismatched socks, boxers on backward, etc., which is really the most annoying part of the whole deal.
  • I was shocked and appalled at Zidane's soiling of the beautiful game. Sorry, wait-- I was 100% behind it. If an Italian man pinches your nipple and insults your dying mother, action must be taken (I think we can all agree it would be kosher if he first insults your dying mother, then pinches your nipple). I wonder what would have happened to Materazzi's face if Zidane had chosen to go upstairs instead. I suspect Materazzi would now have the imprint of his own face in the back of his head, like Han Solo in carbonite.
  • Final days of cycling in the Alps: fan-pooping-tastic. I took the bike on ski lifts straight up the sides of Mont Blanc & other worthy rocks, and biked down single-tracks & dirt roads, losing 5000 feet of elevation. Unreal. Also: ibex sighting. I shot it & made jerky.
  • If Tuscans don't start putting salt in their bread, I'm going to have to call in American air strikes. Get on it, people.
  • Look, I know one shouldn't look to tourist guidebooks for history, any more than one should look for the best gelato joints in Gibbon. And writing about areas that have gone through recent conflicts certainly must be a politically tricky business. But the Croatia Rough Guide's light touch on Tudjman is pretty ridiculous. "Bull Connor's firm defense of segregation won him few friends in the civil rights community, and his perceived excesses with fire hoses and fierce attack dogs led some to regard him with disapproval; however, many ordinary Americans revered Connor for his sincere stance on a tough issue."
  • Viva grappa; viva limoncello; viva, I say.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Luck of Corn Chips and Pie

Like Barry Lyndon, I will refuse to give you a travelogue, telling you how tedious travelogues can be. And then I will give you a travelogue. Also like Barry Lyndon, I cut a fine figure indeed in my plumed hat while riding in my coach-and-six; my sword is still warm with the blood of a man who claimed differently, I'm not afraid to own.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing that we're talking about here. My last day in Italy, and I blundered upon the biggest fucking party I have ever seen. How big? In American terms, lessee: it was as if the Chicago Cubs had won the World Series over Hitler and Hirohito, in the Castro, on Halloween, uh, and then throw in the Puerto Rican day parade. I came upon a mob of Italians staring up at a hotel window, chanting and roaring. After forcing my way to the middle of the mob, Gattuso himself stuck his bearded face out of the window, to a massive cheer. For the next few minutes, various Azzurri made cameos out the window, and then one of them held the actual bleeding World Cup out the window, like the Pope dangling Michael Jackson's baby over the balcony.

Then the parade commenced: Buffon actually sprayed champagne on me from the top of a bus, which is surely my best celebrity encounter of all time. I followed the surging crowd down towards the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, and it felt like I was part of a victorious army marching on Rome. Without the raping and burning, of course. Hundreds of thousands of people clogging the streets, climbing buses, rocking (but not quite overturning; Detroit still has one up on Rome) cars, and singing that goddamned White Stripes riff all night until I began to have auditory hallucinations on the flight home.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Polenta nuggets

Heading home tomorrow. There will be summing-up. But first, some brief notes:

  • In retrospect-- and, mind you, only in retrospect-- I should not have worn a beret & carried a giant baguette to the main square in Pisa, where I watched Italy win the World Cup. It was an error in judgment for which I paid dearly.
  • The spectacle of the celebrations (about which more shortly) aside, it was actually pretty frustrating. I was right there with the mob, right there with their excitement and anticipation, up until the middle of the shootout. And then about half the crowd (normal-looking guys and girls, nary a black shirt or swastika tattoo in sight) starts making monkey noises when a French player of African descent lines up for his kick. Aaaand they lost me. Jesus fucking Christ. It was like making sweet love to a supermodel, nearing the Special Moment.... and then having Goebbels accidentally walk in on you. Ah, those liberal-minded Europeans. Fuck 'em.
  • And then it felt as if the country had just had a revolution. Statue-climbin', beer-sprayin', flag-pokin', tractor-drivin', bomb-detonatin', mob huggin' celebration. What can be said? I have never seen anything like it.
  • But here's the great mystery: how did the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" become the theme song for the Azzurri? All goddamned night, the crowd was singing the bassline, over and over and over and over. "Ohhh, oh-oh-oh-oh ohhh, whoa!" And to think I really liked that song once. "Eh, Fran-ce-si bas-tar-di!" Etcetera.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I am a stout bearded Walser man

When my friends say I remind them of Hannibal, the great Carthaginian general, I usually just demur modestly. But perhaps there's something to the comparison after all. I disappear for a while, and it's unclear where I've gone. Then bam! I take you by surprise from the Alps.

So yes, I am in the Val D'Aosta. And I have a few things to get off my chest. Several blog posts have arisen while I've been cycling, but as I have lacked internet access, these gems simply go to waste, like semen into a teenager's dirty sock. I will put these in bullet points to accommodate your miserably short attention span.

  • One looks back at certain phrases one has uttered with incredulity. Did one really say that? Without irony? Yes, one did. There are two basic classes of these phrases: the first class is the Unforgiveable class. Take, for example, anything you said about Milan Kundera when you were 19. The second class is the Only Comprehensible In Context class. When I was traveling in Mongolia two years ago, I had the occasion to tell several people, "I hope your livestock are fattening up nicely." I said it in Mongolian, of course-- perhaps poor Mongolian, since it was from a crappy phrasebook. But it seemed to be received with appreciation. And I said it without irony or excessive self-consciousness. Nothing would have made me happier at the time than plump livestock. I was united with these nomadic herders in the common hope for morbidly obese goats and camels.
  • This trip hasn't provided me with any comparable phrases, though I have had plenty of the stilted political conversations you tend to have when traveling in a country where your limited grasp of the language forces you to conduct all conversations in broken English. I have said many stupid things in this way. "Yes, the Marshall Plan helped Europe. But I don't think Bush is so good. So why do you like Berlusconi?"
  • I also repeated the phrase "Ah, so you are gathering rosemary" several times, pretty much just to hear myself speak. A kindly old Croatian man was gathering sacks of rosemary on a mountain trail while listening to martial-sounding music on a transistor radio, beating out the dried branches onto blankets spread over the ground. We smiled and spoke incomprehensible monosyllables to one another, until I understood what the hell he was doing. "Ah, so you are gathering rosemary." "Bog."
  • I hadn't seen this much good-natured anti-German sentiment since Hogan's Heroes: when Italy defeated Germany 2-0 in the semifinal, the country fucking exploded. I will spare you the details, but let's just say I got more than my share of man-hugs. And this time, it was they who held on uncomfortably long.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Split nuggets

Split, Croatia, that is.

  • World Cup = time for regional stereotyping! Yaay! Italy plays with unbridled passion, Germany's players have a surprising amount of flair for such stiff automatons, etc. An Int'l Herald Tribune writer characterized South Korea's play as "swarming, with more emphasis on the collective than on the individual." They also inscrutably eat dogs.
  • This kezboard reverses its ys and zs.
  • A concerned reader writes in: "'Funculo' is funnier, though, as it implies a happy ass. The correct term is 'Va' a fare in culo', which can also be shortened to"vaffanculo"... literally meaning 'go do it in the ass' but more colloquially understood as 'fuck you.'"
  • Everybody, literally everybody, was in Italy last week. Dana (#1 Hit Song) was hanging out in the mall in Chieti. AS & JD were having a Fantasy Party in Le Marche. And AD was sucking down wine with her mom. Italy is the new Red Hook.
  • I will keep an eye out, gentle reader, for the hidden truffles of travel: strange meats, funny hats, ethnic hatreds. But more than anything, I will keep an eye out for the Vlachs, survivors of history, who have graduated from the University of Life.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Italy smiteth Australia

So I watched Italy beat Australia 1-0, on a cheap-ass penalty kick in the 93rd minute, from a sidewalk bar in Gubbio. I won't turn this into a travelogue, but this bears some telling. (The intrepid Special Lady has returned home, healthy and on schedule, and she shall be sorely missed.)

The crowd grew surlier as Italy blew several chances, and it reserved special rancor for Toni, who looked like he was playing pretty well to me. When one second-half misfired shot flew over the goalpost, a guy in the front overturned his table, sending glasses flying and children screaming in delight. Cars drove past and stopped in the middle of the street to watch the game, halting traffic. As the final minutes ticked off, it looked like it would go to a shootout, and I was prepared to get my English-speaking ass kicked all over the cobblestone streets. And then Grosso went down, and Totti ("I kicked the ball, and there it was in the back of the net") scored, and there was pandemonium.

Children scattered all over town, hugging and pretending they'd scored. Old men hugged. I even got a hug (I held on for an uncomfortably long time). Lions lay down with lambs. Tractors, cars, scooters drove past with Italian flags. Firecrackers went off. In a centuries-old Eugubian ritual, old women festooned a naked virgin with prosciutto while prepubescent boys fucked melons. It was incredible.

For the next two hours (two hours, seriously), the traffic circle hosted the most boring party ever: an endless rotation of teenagers in cars & scooters, waving Italian flags, shouting, honking. No alcohol, surprisingly.

On to Croatia, if my sorry legs can stand the hills on the way to Ancona.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


My relationship to you is that of a harmless drunk uncle to his spoiled, pampered nieces and nephews. I make you smile with my unintentionally comic lurching and bellowing. I keep you passably entertained during family gatherings that are otherwise deathly dull. Then, when I need you the most-- when an all-night binge has left me locked out of my apartment with soiled trousers and a mysterious rash, and I have paranoid delusions that the pawn shop guy is chasing me with an antique crossbow, and I am randomly dialing numbers on my cellphone and screaming for help to you, my beloved nieces and nephews-- you hang up on me. Oh no, we have no time to help poor silly Uncle Corn Chips. No, we must pack our bags for pony-riding in the Catskills. Uncle Corn Chips is funny in small doses, but otherwise just sad.

And this is why I must maintain a quantum of emotional distance from you, my beloved readers. I know that you are unavailable when times are tough. But it's ok. I can right this ship on my own. At the moment, I am suffering the incredible agony of spending two unexpected days in sunny Montepulciano, sorrowfully quaffing Vino Nobile and cramming fistfuls of pecorino and truffles into my mouth. From time to time, my Boon Companion and I will raise our tear-clouded eyes to the swallows soaring past the crumbling medieval walls and bell towers in this picturesque hill-town. You see, the B.C. has been stricken with pneumonia (but is recovering nicely, thank you) and we have halted our bi-wheeled peregrinations. Somehow, we soldier on.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Two very small Italian nuggets

Q. Will you get prompt, attentive service in an Italian emergency room (everything's fine, thanks; the regrettable incident may or may not have involved lizards) if Italy is currently playing against the Czech Republic in the World Cup?
A. No. No, you will not.

Because of an editing error, late editions of CC&P contained a misspelling of a popular Italian expletive. The correct spelling is "fanculo," not "funculo." We regret the error.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The lizards of Pienza

Yes, I know that posts have been rather sparse lately. And I do apologize. I spend every waking moment scouring the Italian countryside for internet cafes so that I can send you my incisive and amusing observations about cultural differences between the US and Italy. Which differences, by the way, do not exist. Everything here is exactly the same as in New York, but with white beans.

Here is a real and true way to catch lizards: find a long, pliant piece of grass (preferably one foot in length or greater). Create a small noose at the end. Then seek lizards. When you find one sunning itself on a rock, sneak up to it & slip the noose around its head. Remarkably, the lizard usually will not bolt; for some reason, it's not spooked by the grass. Then yank slightly; the lizard will race forward, sealing its fate. Now you have a lizard on a leash. And the world is your oyster.

But lizards in Italy are different. They are wily. They are more athletic. They work in elaborate social networks. We have discovered that our weapons are useless against them. One lizard, when the grass noose brushed his nose, leapt backward and did a 180-degree midair spin, then darted off beneath a stone wall. I don't want to alarm you, but I believe they are a new race of super-lizards. I mean, these guys are good. Professionals. Lizards like this don't just arise naturally. Somebody trained them. Who are they working for?

Incidentally, watching the Italy-US World Cup game in a crowded bar in Siena, as the drunken men chanted something involving "funculo" and "usa", was utterly fantastic. More soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I speak no Italian, but I speak excellent broken English

I came to Tuscany to escape my past. After my marriage to Chester failed, I felt unmoored, vertiginous, gun-shy. No longer confident in my radiant sexuality, I buried myself in Austen and the Brontes, hiding from human contact as an albino quails from the piercing sun's rays. And then my quaint little ceramic shop folded, crushed by the implacable market forces favoring the ceramic super-store down the block. The final blow was the tragic death of my twin sister after a long battle with psoriasis. So I arrived in this delightfully anachronistic hill-town expecting nothing but the requisite unfolding of time, a playing out of the string, an analgesic to dull memory's sting. How could I have guessed that I would find myself again? The villagers, a group of semi-retarded Italian stereotypes, drowned me in their timeless homespun wisdom and bonhomie. And then I met Paolo, the incredibly greasy but irresistable tinkerer, who arrested me with his dark gaze one day next to the olive grove...

Actually, I came to Tuscany so I could hear Laura Branigan's "Gloria" sung, live & in Italian, in a town square in Chianti. And in this I was not disappointed. Otherwise, it's a blur of vineyards and hills and wine as we wobble down the road. It's great. As I learned previously in Ireland, cycling tours mesh surprisingly well with exploration of local alcoholic beverages. More later from Siena.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CC&P, Italian Style

Which is to say, swarthy and deviant.

For the next month, Corn Chips and Pie will be your budget guide to Italy. We'll tell you how pink the backpacks are, which artisanal craftspeople are the crinkliest, how to make origami risotto, and where to find furry clubs in the Alps. Don't worry, I won't describe every meal I had. Which reminds me of this incredible boar ragu I had last night.

Upon arrival, the first Roman with which we had contact tried the old "you only gave me suchandsuch" routine, trying to swindle 40 Euros. Instead of punching him in the face as if he were John Cusack, I declined to give him the extra 40 Euros and passive-aggressively withheld tip. An inauspicious start.

Friday, June 09, 2006

In this corner, weighing 27 pounds...

Few of my stories begin, "This is back when I was spending a lot of time with Muhammad Ali." I shall amend that oversight; I think it will improve the quality of all my stories.

So last night I heard a fantastic anecdote. Because I love you, I shall relate it here, you undeserving swine. I make no claims for its veracity. I can only report that the dude seemed credible. He was a nice guy, fairly quiet, and evinced no desire to dominate the conversation or to impress anyone. After many beers, his friend turned to him & asked him to tell his "Prince story." Glance down, shrug, shuffle, oh-that-old-chestnut grin. I wish I'd been sober enough to remember the details, but here goes:

This guy was involved somehow in organizing Muhammad Ali's benefit concert against racism (remember racism?). Ali wanted Prince, who at that time was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, to play. So this dude made the requisite contacts, Prince responded eagerly, and now we were ready for the climactic meeting of the two icons. It is 1997. We are hanging out in a hotel room with Ali's retinue & Ali's daughter Layla. The dude's cell phone rings. He is excited; he knows who it is. Prince and his people are on the premises.

Prince makes a grand entrance, wearing a special green outfit that he constructed himself, specifically for the occasion. Prince and Ali face off. Ali's Parkinson's is very bad at the moment, so he can only utter one word: "Prince."

Layla recognizes the faux pas, and warns, "Daddy, if you call him Prince, he'll call you Cassius Clay." Ali struggles in silence for a few moments, then utters one more word: "Artist."

Prince is so moved that he cries. Celebration, mutual love, high fives, beef jerky.

Such a goddamn tease

Will post soon-- but will probably postpone the delightful topic of Morgellons in favor of the best bar anecdote I've ever heard, involving a deathmatch between Muhammad Ali and Prince.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Ok, tomorrow we're gonna talk about Morgellons, the freaky all-in-your-head disease that involves insects & colored fibers emerging from open sores. The story is a fascinating brew involving mass delusion, the InterWeb, former A's pitcher Billy Koch, conspiracy theories, and-- my favorite-- the culture-bound syndrome. So your assignment is to read this DIY, fight-the-power website of a Morgellons advocacy group. Then read this skeptic's blog. And finally, this article from the SF Chronicle.

Or skip it all, and wait for the next cartoon about Armando Benitez.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you my own personal struggle. I've been to fifty doctors, and have received no proper diagnosis. The ossified medical establishment, with its its institutionalized terror of new paradigms, has only mocked my suffering. They said Hitler was crazy, too. Anyway, my problem is this: Don Rickles periodically pops his head out of my ass, makes a cutting remark about my appearance and manliness, and then retreats whence he came. I never can catch that crafty devil.


I could be fishing for bluefish, in a canoe, in Maine, with Mr. Bluefish Canoe right now. But no. I am procrastinating in front of the computer.

Here's a quote from Mr. Canoe, who just found out he's two days older than he thought: "I know if I turn out to be Satan, I’ll go easier on dear old mom than I will on the rest of you swine. "

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Damn you, Blogger

  • George Clooney has tried repeatedly to shut down Corn Chips & Pie, but I soldier on: I saw Morgan Spurlock, the evil Goth wizard from Super Size Me, stuffing his fat face with Brazilian meat at Carne Vale on Avenue B. Since Spurlock made himself a celebrity by eating, I felt like I was watching Elton Brand shoot hoops in his backyard, or Shane McGowan singing in the shower, or Jenna Jameson taking it up the poopchute on her own time. All-you-can-eat ribeye steak is a big step up from pubic hairs in McSalad; the guy has done well for himself.
  • Thanks, thanks, thanks to Dana from #1 Hit Song for this clip of David Lee Roth performing a bluegrass version of "Jump." I love his goofy grin. Hell, I just love him.
  • But he hasn't gone through the shoeboxes in the basement yet: "I'm really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we've never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship."-- Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma)
  • I heart Jason Schmidt.
  • I first heard of this oddly underreported story from PY, who marveled at the fact that the police in Sao Paolo had to actually broker a deal with a gang kingpin who is in prison in order to stop street violence against the Sao Paolo police. 31 police officers have been killed so far, and the city only now appears to be returning to a semblance of normalcy. I hereby retract my well-publicized remark that "favelas are for pussies."