Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Melons on the brain

I have so much to say. My mind is fairly bursting with ideas, just as an overripe cantaloupe bursts with noxious gases. Why won't the world listen? I exaggerate, perhaps. Perhaps I have no ideas. Perhaps the beginning of summer in New York, what with its humidity, stink, & claustrophobia, has curdled my brains. Perhaps I am a louse who does nothing but eat burritos and shirk his responsibilities. Perhaps someday an angry mob will descend on Blogger headquarters and demand the removal of Corn Chips & Pie. Well, bring it on! Come, rabble! I welcome oblivion! Come!

  • I don't know that many babies. But I have an opinion about proper attire for babies: melon headgear. NT & JI's kid was wearing a honeydew helmet a few weeks ago, and it looked proper and right.
  • Have you ever eaten frozen watermelon? It's so fucking good. Also good is that trick where you jab a vodka bottle, upside-down, into the top of a watermelon.
  • Jason Kendall just hit a home run. It was his first in over 700 at-bats, and barely cleared the left-field wall. I cannot believe it. This is surely an omen of good things for the Athletics, who must currently be the worst team in baseball, having lost 2 of 3 to the Royals. Next sign of apocalypse: Jon Miller beats the crap out of Joe Morgan in the booth. Or, in keeping with today's theme, Joe Morgan wears a melon helmet for every game.
  • CC&P's 5-Second Architecture Review, Volume I: The Geisel Library (yes, named for that Geisel) at UCSD is a pretty cool-looking building. And, uh, lessee... did you know that you can buy a $300 melon in Tokyo? Well, you can.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Armando Benitez

Only Giants or Mets fans will appreciate this, but hey.
From McCovey Chronicles. I think it's a remarkable likeness.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Collected Insults, Volume 3 (supp.)

Backhanded compliment supplement:

"Even his hair... parted and curled at the hairdresser's, did not make him look ridiculous or stupid, as curled hair inevitably does by lending your face the quite undeniable resemblance to a German on his wedding day." -- Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Look on my works, ye mighty, and have another Negra Modelo!

No traces remain. Time's waves have lapped clean the shore. Here in San Diego, a city that spurns history, a city unencumbered by ghosts and memories, a city that fetishizes the present and the future-- it's as if Simon & Simon never existed. There is no statue of AJ. There is no shrine to the red IROC-Z. Hell, it's probably impossible to get "Major Dad" in reruns here.

There will be no big-screen Simon & Simon this summer with Colin Farrell & Jamie Foxx. Another year passes, and our memories fade. Ah, that mismatched pair of fraternal private investigators. It was that brief window in the '80s when being a Vietnam vet was cool. Rick was the mustachioed one, and AJ was the "fastidious" one with blow-dried blonde hair and an appreciation for gewurtztraminer. But he dug chicks, so it was cool. Their buddy was Venus Flytrap, or "Downtown Brown," whose moniker derived from the street savvy afforded him by his pigmentation.

Yeah, wow, that show sucked. But I remember it for some reason. Anyway, I caught a Padres game. The crowd was lackluster until the theatrical entrance of Trevor Hoffman in the 9th: the lights went down, a hush swept over Petco Park, and the gongs of "Hell's Bells" rang as Hoffman emerged from behind the centerfield wall. Male cheerleaders, I jest not, danced on the dugout & waved flags. On the scoreboard, Hoffman's name was emblazoned in a Gothic font before fiery clouds. AC/DC built to a crescendo. The crowd went nuts. Who knew change-up pitchers could be so... evil?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Who's your Padre?

Just 2 things:

  • One of the best things I've read in the NYT recently is this brief take on the friendship between Isamu Noguchi and Buckminster Fuller. I can't wait to check out the corresponding exhibit when I get back to NYC; another review is here. It seems quaint today that a shiny technological optimist could become an icon of hippies & lefties.
  • It's been years since I visited San Diego, and my reacquaintance seems to have gotten off on the wrong foot. I had to meet someone in the bar of the W Hotel (not where I was staying), and when I was asking directions, the word "swanky" was used at least 3 times. The bar of the W is not swanky. Not unless "swanky" means overly tanned, slightly flabby Belgians stinking of unguents and sweat. Weird-looking small women staggering around, drunk, in pointy heels. "Psyched" guys from San Dimas spending slightly above their means for a killer weekend. Overdressed Dutch men and their horsey girlfriends. Stale vomit smell rising from the sand on the floor & lots of spilled tequila.

Friday, May 19, 2006

What a beautiful, beautiful animal

Certain circumstances require selecting a photograph of oneself and providing it to the Authorities. For online dating sites & author book jacket photos, I'd imagine that this experience is rather painful. When harassing the NSA by sending in cockshots, I'd imagine that the experience is rather enjoyable. Somewhere in between these two lies the passport photo or the academia-related photo.

Sadly, I had to send in a photo & "profile" of myself for the purposes of some bullshit academic promo brochure thing today. [Among other inanities, I was asked to "Paint a 'word picture' of yourself doing your favorite activity." Ah, yes... you can imagine. This is such an obvious layup that I would sully the purity of the blank slate by making any jokes here whatsoever.]

So, yes. I'd ignored the deadline for a couple of weeks, then finally put the shit together a day late (today), and tried to find a jpeg of myself. Mind you, this is the kind of brochure that I hate; people tend to select photos of themselves that say "Look at me; I'm a fancy traveler out here in the mountains/jungle/desert, keepin' it real, clutching smiling starving kids." So I wanted something simple & unpretentious, like a photo of me riding a giant scorpion wearing only jodhpurs and an ascot.

Unfortunately, very unfortunately, I was only able to find one digital photo of myself to send. Who has jpegs of himself? I mean, among those without digital cameras. I got nuthin'. The photo: it's mortifying. There I am, atop a mountain in Mongolia, staring soulfully into the sun's waning rays. Look at me! What a douchebag.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Here is a poem about a baby giraffe:

Gerry the giraffe is a happy little sport
Watch him gambol, caper, and cavort
He's a lot like you and me
He likes to have a spot of tea.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Little FYI

Just to clear up the confusion: Marlee Matlin is the right-wing nut, Mary Matalin is the deaf actress, and Michelle Malkin is the scholar best known for Understanding Media. I once made the mistake of signing "I loved you in that movie with James Carville" to Malkin at a party; she looked at me quizzically and then continued drunkenly making out with Scott Stapp.

Pay phones

This is completely unsurprising, but it still manages to nauseate (like you feel the morning after a dinner of Indian buffet and 3/4 of a bottle of gin: yeah, you knew you were gonna feel bad, but man, this feels bad): the US government is reportedly monitoring the phone records of political reporters, basically to go after political enemies in the context of "leak investigations."

So let's build more pay phones. I only acquired a cell phone in 2004, so I developed a love affair with pay phones. I learned to discriminate among various sub-types & memorized their location in every city. Drug dealers hated me; I was taking up valuable communications infrastructure. The guy selling crack would tiptoe up to me, shrug apologetically, and point to his watch. In return, I would scrunch up my face in that "really really sorry just a second" grimace, roll my eyes, & flap my hand as if to say "wow, she just won't stop talking." The dealer would smile in commiseration, pat me on the back, and mouth "take your time!" Then he'd shoot me in the leg. I miss those guys.

Once, I was walking near the Washington Monument late in the evening, and a nearby pay phone rang. I picked it up, and it was a woman asking me where I was. I told her. She sighed sadly, said, "I knew that sonuvabitch was lying," and told me about the affair her husband was having. That's why payphones are great. Moments like that, when you can intrude on someone else's misery.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Rainy night nuggets

  • Tuesday nights, 10:30, at Mo Pitkins on Avenue A: jazz. Jam session with many estimable musicians and jovial fellows including Greg Glassman (trumpet) & Tashi Kaiser (drums). Bring all your drunkard friends. It's good music, really and truly.
  • Speaking of bars: two of the best bars in New York have to be Sunny's and Bait & Tackle, both in Red Hook. The former is an old neighborhood presence, and is somewhat incongruously hosting Ibsen's Ghosts until the 21st. The latter is pretty new, and has a crackerjack aesthetic quality (dead animals).
  • Ah, Red Hook. Let's talk about the plenitude of studio space, your new steel & cocoa butter "project," and the ghosts of longshoremen. My ambivalent appreciation of such neighborhoods is nauseatingly cliched. I hate myself. Now pass the pretzels.
  • Benadryl + booze = Garden of Earthly Delights.
  • Epidemiology & medical research conferences feature the amusing "poster session," in which researchers stand awkwardly next to poorly designed, laminated summaries of their latest projects, and wait for passers-by to feign interest in their text boxes & diagrams. It's exactly like an elementary school science fair, but with more networking & fewer social skills. I gotta go to one out west in a coupla weeks, and I'm considering ditching my poster for a papier-mâchè volcano, or perhaps for a baby tooth soaked in Coke.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Terrible news

Cody's Books is closing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Horse & chariot

Years ago, in a small town outside Kenmare in Country Kerry, Ireland, I met a man of about 60 with some kind of an English accent. He was extraordinarily tanned and well-built, and though he was affable, his manner communicated menace and volatility. He smelled sharply of week-old sweat. He talked my ear off as we drank.

He was living "off the grid and on the dole." After one too many DUIs in his hometown in the north of England, he had abandoned his family with neither warning nor possessions save the contents of a small rucksack. He ended up in County Kerry and camped for a while in the mountains, coming down to perform handyman work now and again. Now he was living in a local hostel, and promised that he would die here. "I ain't leavin'," he warned me, eyeing me suspiciously, as if I were thinking of removing him forcibly.

Recently, he'd seen a hippie girl riding to market in a horse & cart. This sight resuscitated something dead within him, and allowed him to gather the loose change of his ambition into a larger bill. "I know it sounds silly," he said, "but all I want..." Here he paused for effect. " a horse..." Another pause. "...and a chariot."

He was telling the truth. He really did want a horse and a chariot. The rest of the evening was taken up with rambling rationalizations of his goal: dignity, right-of-way, economic efficiency (grazing grass is plentiful), etc. I had the sense that these reasons simply seasoned the main dish: he wanted his external presentation to mirror how he felt about himself; this self-image had eroded and had taken severe beatings, but a horse and chariot would save it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just a quick note

on Barry Lamar Bonds. And then never again.

The man is a walking penis. With an STD. A bit engorged, too, especially at the head. He is rude, arrogant, self-pitying, incapable of any perspective whatsoever. He cheated. He uses his son as a show-pony to attract sympathy. His voice is irritating. He is the Greatest Villain In Sports History, as near as I can figure it.

I love the man. Honestly. He hits baseball far, and wears Giants uniform.
I'd love him more if he provided care for Haitians with multi-drug-resistant TB, or if he endured a decade of imprisonment for his role in Tiananmen Square, or if he were shuffering and shmiling. Or even if he were a nice guy like Nick Swisher. But hey, this'll do. It's my harmless version of blind fealty to a religion or a nation-state. It's kind of fun. You should try it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Let me save you some time

Via Amitava Kumar, I came across this New Yorker article from last year, telling the story of how a humble digital video tech website became a makeshift counseling service for the desperate and depressed. Perhaps you've read it. On the website's message boards, one forlorn user started a discussion thread entitled "I am so lonely will anyone speak to me." Somehow, this discussion forum became the #1 Google hit for "I am lonely."

And the thread continues to this very day, with lonely people and ex-lonely people confessing and counseling and commiserating. This is somewhat cheering, and evokes the good old days of the internet when idiosyncrasy, happenstance, and whim ruled in the anarchic digital frontier, and blah blah blah look at me I'm such a d-bag. Or something like that. People tell me this is the way it was. I was busy with a certain zeppelin venture when the internet Revolutionized The Way We Live.

I find the notion of Google as confessional fascinating, and surely the topic is ripe for someone to write a long, wearying essay on the implications of such a phenomenon. Anyway, in case others of you are tempted to use Google as a means of venting or lamenting, I thought I'd save you some time and describe the #1 hits for various likely phrases. Onward!

  • "Help me": Help me, Harlan! Advice column for teens. Features photo of "irreverent" Harlan with hand thoughtfully on chin. Just barely beats out the Scientology site.
  • "I have hit bottom": The depressing story of someone trying to quit Effexor, on
  • "There is no God": Penn Jillette on NPR. Ponytail, rampant secular humanism. Enough said.
  • "I wish I hadn't done that": An ESL forum dissecting my own personal favorite phrase. Actually, this is also useful for native English speakers who are looking for new ways to express that familiar sentiment.
  • "I just killed a man": Someone's story of how buying a Powerbook contributed to the heroin-related death of some other guy. Whatever.
  • "corn chips and pie": A 1995 article from the Vegetarian Times on how to... hey, wait. Fuck you, Google. Their ranking algorithms are terrible. I hate this game.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chunky nuggets

  • Happy 75th birthday, Willie Howard Mays, Jr.
  • Mays is perhaps best known as a guest host on the Dick Cavett Show, or as the inspiration for a supporting character in the pretentious but delicious prologue to Don DeLillo's overpraised Underworld. Trivia fans will note that he is also the best baseball player in the history of the game.
  • Many moons ago, a friend and then-housemate crawled into my bed at 6am, freaking out after doing one milligram too many at a party. "I see baboons wired with the circuitry of fear," she kept saying.
  • Now listening to "Montreal" by The Wedding Present.
  • Let me tell you something: if I played trumpet (well, I did once, in the sixth grade), I would transcribe every single note of Clifford Brown's solo in the EmArcy version of "Cherokee," and I would work on it every day of my life. Finally, at age 97, I would master it, and every single resident of my nursing home on Mars would shit himself in wonder and awe. Then I would die.

Of course, this phrase pops up in nearly every teen novel

Although Kaavya Viswanathan has apologized profusely to me, I remain suspicious that her borrowings were more than "inadvertent." She claims to have read this blog in high school, and I'm flattered, but flattery turns rancid when it's spiked with plagiarism. Let's look at the striking similarities between a passage from CC&P and her novel:

Corn Chips And Pie, David Brooks' Personal Hygiene Diary, 9/20/05: "8:00 am: Forestalled any incipient choad infection by rhythmic, abrading application of nylon rope soaked in hydrogen peroxide."

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life, p. 79: "That morning, I watched Taylor forestall his incipient choad infection by rhythmically rubbing a nylon rope soaked in hydrogen peroxide over his crotch. Disgusting. What did Sabrina see in him that I didn't?"

You be the judge.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thank you,

Another quick baseball post. To those weary of sports: I'll get back to posting about chamomile, George Eliot, and Bright Eyes tomorrow.

Hell of an A's-Angels game today. John Lackey, the oafish mouth-breathing Angels pitcher, mouthed off to Jason Kendall after an inside pitch. Kendall, whose career HBP:HR ratio is around 3, took offense and charged the mound, with a nice quick takedown of the big retarded kid. Lucky Kendall didn't hit him... Lackey would have rolled weakly to third for a 5-4-3 DP. (Ha!) Then, the Athletics scored 6 in the 9th to seal the victory, with a nice 2-out, 0-2 revenge drilling of Quinlan. Mike Scioscia was thrown out after whining.

I hate Mike Scioscia. He's the kind of overweening prick who will order a salad at Ruby Tuesday and make the waitress cry because the kitchen ran out of artichoke hearts.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The last third is usually backwash

If Corn Chips & Pie is your only source of news and entertainment, I applaud you. I also direct you to something to which the rest of the internet has already linked: Stephen Colbert vs. George W. Bush. If you've only seen the video, read the complete transcript too.

Colbert was given a precious, precious opportunity-- mock Bush to his face, in public-- and he didn't drop the ball. Note the uncomfortable silence in the room. And, I belatedly add, in the media.