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."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nuggets to take you through the weekend

  • If you feel up for lamentation, rending of garments, and blood all over the sands of the Australian outback, then you should see Nick Cave's The Proposition. But the secret reason to sit through the aforementioned highlights is John Hurt's incredibly over-the-top performance as a filthy drunk bounty hunter. John Hurt should be in every movie.
  • Hey, what the fuck, Old Hag & TMFTML? It's been a while. Baby wants some more porridge. Baby will continue to click mindlessly on the links; baby will get disappointed. Baby will keen, mewl, and low. I'm imagining Lizzie Skurnick and the fancypants TMFTML guy riding ponies on a Moroccan beach, laughing and tossing their hair back in the wind.
  • Do-gooder friends are departing for good-doin', in Sudan Mozambique Namibia Sri Lanka Tanzania Romania etc. To them I say: what's more important, your "work," or keeping my social circle alive? Also, don't drink the water.
  • What's the origin of the jock nod? You know, the little quick upward tilt of the head, as if you're trying to scare a pigeon off its perch atop your hat. I don't remember seeing it in the '80s, but perhaps it goes back to Charlemagne's Lombardy or something. My favorite jock nod was years ago when I was on a sssupersexy date with a young radio traffic reporter (hey, she rode around in a helicopter every day) at, em, a Giants game. We sat next to the bullpen and spent a lot of time mocking the oafish Jeff Juden, who was making an ass of himself by "bantering" with the crowd & flirting with the ladies. Finally, Juden was called in for long relief (and got shelled), but before he left, he turned right to the traffic reporter, winked, and gave her the jock nod.