Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Right in the ol' Kornheiser

I've long suspected that life is a zero-sum game. The awful symmetry is usually cloaked by a baroque accounting system that obfuscates via geography, temporality, scale, and old-fashioned smoke & mirrors. But once in a while, you can see a tight little couplet of yin & yang just hanging out, untroubled by its own obviousness.

I really enjoy football, but this enjoyment is perfectly canceled out by how much I fucking hate football commentary. Every Devin Hester juke is negated by an absurd causal narrative involving "momentum" spun by Jaworski. Every Adrian Peterson spin move is negated by smug moralizing from Kornheiser. For every time Urlacher reads the play and splits the offensive line, someone will say "in the National Football League" or "at the end of the day" or "no question." Where are today's Summeralls?* End the reign of the sports talk radio paradigm!

*Summerall would never discuss the "fantasy implications" of Brian Westbrook's flop on the one-yard line. He would spit out his mouthful of brandy and bellow "A heads-up play by Westbrook, tackling himself on the one," and for a minute you'd think it was Dylan Thomas reading "And Death Shall Have No Dominion." Then Summerall would call him "Michael Westbrook," breaking the spell; Dylan Thomas wouldn't make that mistake.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Most e-mailed stories of the future on NYT.com

  1. Jogging Cures Autism, Researchers Find
  2. Seder for Foodies
  3. 36 Hours in a Self-Absorbed Haze
  4. “Malice” is Nearly an Anagram of Islam
  5. Feel Special? The Smugness Gene, Identified
  6. Op-Ed Contributor: I Have a Strange Rash
  7. At This Preschool, Nobody Spares the Rod
  8. Starbucks Makes a Tentative Foray into the Yoga Trade
  9. Maureen Dowd: Mildly Provocative Choir-Preaching
  10. First “Metrosexual,” Then “Man-Crush,” Now Simply “Homo”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I have two things to say

  1. A Baltimore story. Someone I know was walking down the street at night. She saw a man attempting to cut down a tree (planted by the city in an interstitial sidewalk space) with a handsaw. The man was determined. Then (suddenly, out of nowhere, without warning, etc.) a man jumped from a third-story window onto the would-be lumberjack. The jumping man's leg hit the ground with a sickening crack, and his head slammed against a wrought-iron gate. The jumping man allegedly shouted, "Don't cut down my fucking tree." The lumberjack proceeded to beat the shit out of the jumping man (who presumably had little shit left in his system after the jump), and also attempted to beat the shit out of the observer's male companion. This is on good authority.
  2. Jason Elam, the placekicker for the Denver Broncos, has written (with his pastor) a "novel" called Monday Night Jihad, in which ex-football players battle radical Islamist terrorists in the Middle East. One may infer that football metaphors ensue. One may also infer that the hero kicks a ticking time bomb through an impossibly narrow window from 52 yards, saving a buxom but devoutly Christian cheerleader from death-by-shrapnel. Please, please read this link. It is AWESOME. Teaser quote: "If Osama bin Laden himself were to pick up this book and read it, I'd want him to say, 'Yeah, that's why I do what I do.'"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Briefly noted

Also on the Wes Anderson front:
The attorney for Travis Henry, the Broncos running back who faces suspension over smoking some weed, is named Steve Zissou.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dignan learns to laminate

"So he's like, 'Hey, Darjeeling, that's a kind of tea, right? Or, like, a place in India?' And, I'm, like, 'Uh, yeah, dumbass, it's both.'" -- a guy wearing a Sonic Youth baseball cap, standing in line at the Charles Theater in Baltimore, MD, smug as all git-out

So. Wes Anderson, then.

[This is a good article. It articulates a pervasive unease I feel re: Wes Anderson & race. Nothing riles you up more than race, I know, except perhaps liquor stores that won't accept payroll checks after midnight.]

[Here's what may be the prelude to a thoughtful stance. Come on, "cinetrix," you inconstantly third-person narrator, you. Flesh it out, if only for the children.]

We all expected more from Wes Anderson, mainly because of his adroitness at tapping veins of retarded emotion bulging near the surface. We mistook this for depth. It's amazing what a slow Rolling Stones song & borrowed nostalgia can do to the ol' Longing organs. Throw in some Jarmuschish humor & stage it as an elaborate diorama by Dieter Roth or Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and you've got a dedicated following. But that's ok; that's really ok.

A common defense of simple pleasures: they don't pretend to be anything else. But really, why should intent matter at all here? Who gives a fuck if the guy who made my burrito was hoping for a Michelin star? It's a goddamn decent burrito, and it's delicious.

So. I go to Wes Anderson movies for aesthetic rapture. For mild, offbeat laffs. For cheap heartstring-tugging and shallow symbolism. For material fetishization. For Owen Wilson. Not for "ideas," nor for character exploration, nor for the untangling of moral Gordian knots, and least of all for an admirable treatment of race relations. WA is the first half of WASP, and I've learned to live with that reasonably happily.

6.5/10. CC&P says check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cheap QALY-saver

Here's to topes. ¡Topes!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Concrete mile

I wanted to just briefly serenade a particular kind of bitterness: it's the long walk on a hot day through blinding daylight along some pedestrian-unfriendly stretch of urban desert. You've been there: along the back end of a convention center parking lot on an off day; underneath the Bangkok elevated train; past the unfinished development site in Delhi with weeds growing through the boxy modern concrete houses; plodding from one car dealership to the next, 1/4 mile down the marginal commercial road with plenty of streetlights but no sidewalks.

You feel vaguely ill, inexplicably weary, despite little physical exertion today. You wonder how you could have ever jogged, sprinted, played a game. It is really far to the next thing. It is really hot. There are no other pedestrians around and the air smells like exhaust.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fantasy Football Wrapup

I caught a few minutes of the Patriots-Cowboys game at a local Baltimore bar. The bar is half-gay, half-straight, 100% depressing. The hilarious yet (for Baltimore) unremarkable 15-minute circus that ensued fits poorly into a blog nugget; nonetheless, I feel compelled to note a few highlights:

  • The bar was nearly empty. I requested that they change the TV from a rodeo broadcast to the game.
  • 2 beefy straight 40ish guys were too drunk to notice that they'd lost control of their 20ish trashy-hot girlfriends.
  • One trashy-hot drunk girl insisted on being taught how to sign "S-E-X-Y" in ASL by the gay identical twins sitting in the corner playing erotic touchscreen. "Oh my God you're deaf and that's so sad, but it's also awesome, really!!!!"
  • Her attention was diverted by a Baltimore Dude (30 but looks 50, no teeth, wiry strong, tattoos, white, shaved head) sobbing into his hands on the counter.
  • The trashy-hot girl then proceeded to ostentatiously comfort the Baltimore Dude, buying him shot after shot. "It's ok, sweetie, everything's going to be ok, you know that, right? Get drunk with me."
  • The Baltimore Dude attempted to touch the labia of the trashy-hot girl during one of the 116 hugs they engaged in. She slurred "That's not appropriate," then bought everyone another shot.
  • One of the 40ish beefy dudes pulled her away after he'd been rejected whilst hitting on a 45ish botoxed horror.
  • The Baltimore Dude then sobbed for 5 straight minutes. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was ok, which of course he wasn't. He said "yeah," then collapsed backward off his barstool and lay on the floor amid spilled beer, overturned barstools, and wretched shame.
  • I've been to this bar twice in the past 6 months or so, and it's the second time I've helped someone up the stairs. The first time, it was a man who looked 150 years old, a ruined Statler/Waldorf, his mouth hanging open so wide it looked like he was cruising for plankton. With his son.
  • New England beat Dallas but may have lost Sammy Morris, making Kevin Faulk an acceptable desperation #2 back for week 7.

Mid-October nuggets

  • You hung over? Feelin' like you need to reboot the works? Wanna purge the toxins? Read this article about Gawker. It's nauseating.
  • A quote from the Washington Monthly about the article: "The vast emptiness at the core of what these people do is almost unfathomable, and their self-loathing ranks right up there with crack addicts..."
  • Concert Review: 10/14/07, Of Montreal. Good music, wanted to punch Kevin Barnes in the throat. Biggest divergence between singer/song impressions since Telly Savalas' "Telly" (1974). I don't have anything against preening pretension, honestly, but I was in a bad mood; Freddie Mercury was in retrograde or something.
  • I was all set to launch a spirited discussion of Gary Taubes' piece on epidemiology (as made manifest in diet/chronic disease etiologic research: weak associations, unmeasured confounding, shaky conclusions), but then I got bored. And you would have too. So instead, I thought we could-- together, you and me-- launch a jihad against the phrase "junk science." Consider this an amateur fatwa (the hottest kind).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Instructions for making a nuclear bomb

Here is a surefire recipe for constructing a nuclear weapon:

  1. I have always been curious to see who searches for this kind of thing. Radioactive Boy Scouts, for instance.
  2. Presumably, there's all kinds of crappy or scarily useful information posted online by lunatics.
  3. Therefore, this post probably won't make it into Google's top 100 search results.
  4. I might need some specific ordered combination of terms, like "bomb recipe" or "step by step nuclear bomb" or "nuclear bomb instructions."
  5. Nonetheless, it would be awfully interesting if I got hits on this site from people searching for such a thing. I will report back to you.
  6. I'm sure the NSA and the FBI and the BBC and BB King have posted all kinds of lures and traps online, and play the "track IP address" game.
  7. By simply posting about this topic, I may find myself face-to-face with scary waterboarders in dark suits tomorrow.
  8. Tell my mother I love her.
  9. Mix 3 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt in a bowl.
  10. Add 2 oz bourbon, a dash of bitters, and 1/2 a teaspoon of Triple Sec.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Colbert didn't quite nail it

Although I wish he didn't look quite so smug in his photo, I think Frank Rich writes good columns. Here's one you should read. I'm looking at you, you complacent ass, stuffing your face with grilled chicken panini. You!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Don't roll your eyes at my motto, bro

Apparently I was out of the loop. I thought "Don't tase me, bro" was a sufficiently obscure reference to serve as this blog's motto. Apparently not. Apparently I need to read blogs produced and owned by Wired magazine.

A quote from the story: "For those of you who've been on vacation on a Greek Island, or are just logging onto your computer from a remote location in China..."

This kind of embarrassed disclaimer preceding an explanation chafes my nerves almost as much as the phrase "Party foul!" does. Yes, for those of you who aren't pale men aged 15-40 who spend all day checking out the "most viewed" videos on YouTube...

Ok, fine. I'm just mad that I didn't hang out backstage with "Don't tase me, bro" before it was signed to a major label. Before the Nigel Godrich production and the string section. Anyway, I've replaced the slogan with a new one, a non-jokey one, taken from a nice essay by John Updike. I like this phrase. It is just the right flavor of bloggy narcissism.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Hyperbole never tasted so sweet:

"Yes, in the wake of the greatest upset in college football's entire history--a history that stretches back to 1869, four years after the Civil War came to an end--one can fairly say that somewhere in a land of peace and joy, Bill Walsh is smiling broadly as he looks down on pupil Jim Harbaugh, and a bunch of Stanford men who have just attained a considerable measure of gridiron immortality."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Arabbers, dirtbikes, wheelchairs

The streets of Baltimore prominently feature three means of conveyance that are at best rare in other cities. Bullet points!

  • Arabbers. They deserve their own post, if not Presidential Medals of Freedom. They are a dying breed (by a recent count, only 6 remain) of street vendors who hawk fruit and sundries from pony-drawn carts. They maintain an African-American tradition dating back nearly 200 years. I once noticed horseshit in my alley, and wondered: what the fuck? Then I saw some Arabbers passing through the neighborhood, shouting and vending, and I understood.
  • Dirtbikes. This is unreal. Groups of dirtbike riders careen through Baltimore like showboating swallows at dusk. Wheelies at 60 mph. Flying through parks, cutting through yards. Dodging traffic, even flying the wrong way up Highway 83. You hear the buzz of the motors after the kids are already past you, all pulling wheelies and exhibiting daring beyond anything you've ever displayed. Cops can't stop them. Every black kid in East Baltimore wants a dirtbike. The 8-year-old kid I mentor covets one like you'd covet a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock. When we draw, he asks me to draw dirtbikes. I've thought about pedantically drawing him pictures of massive head injuries, but my artistic skills are limited. So I draw him dirtbikes. Dirtbikes!
  • Motorized wheelchairs. There are neighborhoods where they clog the streets. Distressingly piloted by young men, who exhibit an "I got nothing to lose" indifference to automobiles.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lonely at the top

I won both my fantasy baseball leagues. Yes, that's right. Shout it from the mountaintops. I won. And you know what victory looks like?

Victory looked like this: a slouched posture in front of the computer. An empty beer bottle in my right hand. Outside, ruined Baltimore briefly flattered by the dying sun. An empty apartment. The mild annoyance of friends. The utter indifference of loved ones. Countless hours of life wasted. And for what? For what?

All the National Bohemians I can drink. I don't think King Pyrrhus ever got that reward. Time to pay up. You know who you are.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

stop the coming war

Time to write your congressional rep. Really.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Be my Mal Evans

I've spent the last week shirking my trivial epidemiological responsibilities and immersing myself in the Beatles. If you've never watched the 8-part Anthology-- and I hadn't-- it's well worth the time.

Much of it is crudely sequenced and laughably staged. Paul is interviewed while apparently captaining a tugboat. Later, he is interviewed while casually tending a campfire in the woods. Paul is kind of an ass. George, though admirably humble, sardonic, and down-to-earth, is interviewed in his palatial home. It appears to have been decorated by a billionaire Uzbek immigrant. 1994 brought some questionable sartorial choices. Paul's mullet. George's colorful sweaters. Ringo's LA Raiders cap.

But the documentary is riveting. Their Elvis encounter is a Liverpudlian Rashomon:

  • Ringo & George seem to be telling the truth about it (I paraphrase): "We were stoned out of our minds & all of us forgot where we were going. Then we realized, oh yeah, we're gonna meet Elvis. We fell out of the limo giggling, and there he was, hanging out on the porch watching TV and playing a bass guitar. It was weird. He was surrounded by sycophants and seemed kind of out of it. We stayed a few hours. Shame he was so threatened by us later, telling Nixon that we corrupted America's youth and all. Whatever."
  • Paul: "Oh, yeah, I was blown away. What a historic encounter."
  • John: "We just jammed with him, you know, all the old rock & roll standards."
  • George: "John said he jammed with him. Must have been when we were out of the room."

Much of the footage is surprisingly moving. Some highlights:

  • A performance of "I Am The Walrus" from Magical Mystery Tour.
  • Music videos of "Paperback Writer" and "Rain."
  • Twickenham bickering and jamming.
  • Yoko perched like a vulture, watching the lads play "Let It Be."
  • John being consistently clever and acidic. If you're going to be an asshole, might as well be interesting-- take note, Sir McCartney.
  • Ringo comes off well.
  • The transition from publicly well-behaved lads to irreverent hippies is shockingly rapid. It was only four months between "You're Going To Lose That Girl" and "Norwegian Wood," and less than a year between matching suits and Sgt. Pepper.
  • The transition from goofy hippies to gaunt, bearded sages is similarly rapid.
  • The mythopoiea of the Maharishi sojourns and lysergic trips is deflated by all the footage of young confused folks behaving in entirely recognizable ways. '60s envy is ameliorated if not cured.
  • Just watching the 4 of them play together is pretty damned thrilling.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Semaphore of Squamuglia

You really ought to check this out.

It was forwarded to me by DR, who says "It's hard for me to imagine something you'll find more interesting." DR knows me; what can I say?

[clarification: DR is not the Dominican Republic, with whom I have had little correspondence, other than a series of increasingly urgent communiqués in 1973 stemming from a diplomatic misunderstanding. Apparently "puta" is not Spanish for "put," FYI.]

Monday, September 24, 2007

1969 Old Farmer's Almanac

  • During the months in 1968 while we have been compiling this 1969 OFA, we have been constantly reminded, by student revolts, racism, et al., of the need in this country for such strong traditions as this Almanac.
  • Don't graft trees when moon is on the wane or not seen.
  • "A common Case this, to call in our Neighbours to rejoice when all the good Liquor is gone." -Pliny
  • Abortion is no longer not being talked about. However, it may well be that medical science may render such laws obsolete almost before they are written. The "morning-after" pill....
  • "The Soviet Union could still efficiently destroy the United States even after absorbing the full weight of an American first strike," Mr. McNamara stated as he left office in May 1968.
  • In general, with NORAD in operation, it may be said we have about a 15-minute warning of a missile attack from anywhere in the world. This would allow three counter-attacks... however, there is not as yet any active defense against an ICBM.
  • [advertisement] KEEP DRY "The Masculine Way" -- MALE-DRI. $5.95 with 3 snap-in absorbent pads.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ceramics and skulls

A friend wrote me & helpfully informed me that she considers the new CC&P design to be "Very Southwestern New Age."

I was hurt, and even considered changing the background to a different detail of the same painting-- one with uniformly dark colors that evokes only haunting and very stylish Swiss expressionism. Not bolo ties, turquoise earrings, coyote trickster spirits, and desert tai chi.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I don't have much to say today, this fine Thursday, other than a small suggestion. I believe this may be the solution to the minor problem you have. Consider this to be your horoscope for the day, but a scientific kind of horoscope, calibrated in antiseptic conditions by Finnish scientists. I think you should put on the Beatles' "Rain," and turn the volume up as high as your speakers can stand without distortion.

By the way, the Didion quote below is from an interview she gave to the Paris Review in 1978. I found it yesterday when I was cleaning out my "Favorites"-- the collection of 60 or so bookmarked links that I never, ever visit. I don't know when I found it, but I'd never read it. Along with the Didion interview, I found this and this. Please to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Q: How did the "fragility of Joan Didion" myth start?

A: Because I'm small, I suppose...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Look out, DiMaggio

My friend and I share a subscription to MLB TV, which allows one to watch most games online. However. Said friend sneakily chose an password that is a crude play on my name. Let's just say it involves two obscenities ingeniously compressed into one. Had my schoolmates discovered this innovation back in 3rd grade, I might never have recovered.

So every time I log in, I am forced to slander my good name. It's, um, as if my beer mug were constructed of dried manure. (That's two fecal analogies in two days. Every streak starts small.) I don't intervene to change the password because I hate myself.

[Also, I switched templates because of bugginess w/my old template. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you and your loved ones.]

Monday, September 17, 2007

When it rains

Michael Hirschorn recently wrote an article in the Atlantic that assails "quirk," in particular the brand peddled by This American Life. In my judgment, Hirschorn's point is like a nugget of tasty corn in a well-formed stool. Anyhoo, this passage caught my eye: "[Quirk] becomes a kind of psychographic marker, like wearing laceless Chuck Taylors or ironic facial hair—a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility."

It's true. For too long, people with Chuck Taylors have evaded creative responsibility for their footwear. For the record: my pose is clearly labeled. My email address and cell phone number are featured prominently on my pose (28 pt all-caps Trebuchet font), and there is a comments section.

*Also, Lindsay Robertson points out that Mr. Hirschorn is creatively responsible for the presence of Celebrity Fit Club on VH1.

Keeping the doctor at bay

I have missed you, blog. Oh, how I've missed you. It's just that I didn't really have anything I wanted to write. In conclusion: I haven't missed you, blog.

But today begins a noble experiment (forced daily posts) with two non-exclusive outcomes:
a) sweet creative release, preventing my tumescent creativity from bursting through an inconvenient collection of body tissues. O Creativity! Why must you swell inside me like a banal balloon?
b) declining blog quality, assuming we haven't zeroed out here already.

Null hypothesis: a = b. Effort is pointless but harmless. Life is meaningless. Sell your possessions, kiss a baby, murder a kitten; it doesn't matter; zero is the sum.
Alternative hypothesis: Corn Chips and Pie will save/destroy the world.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's nothing at all

  • I finally got around to watching Slow Century, the Pavement DVD. The highlight-- ferret around for it, because it's worth it-- is a clip of some KROQ promo guy or DJ stepping onstage before the band comes on. Upon being instantly heckled, he gamely carries on for a minute or two. When his multiple attempts to announce "upcoming shows" are met with angry shouts, he reacts by taunting the crowd: if it wasn't for KROQ, you guys wouldn't be "turned on" to Pavement, etc. Boos and cups of beer come flying at him. He keeps winding up the crowd. He stays onstage far longer than he has to (probably for 5 minutes), like a punch-drunk boxer keeping his feet. "Call and response, baby, call and response. It's an old blues trick. Picked it up in the House of Blues." He's not a hero; he's just a regular guy in extraordinary circumstances.
  • I also liked how Thurston Moore, the Ancient One of indie cool, was filmed in wrinkle-proof, deifying yellow light.
  • A long day of football awaits. Pray for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cicada nuggets

  • A long time ago, I wrote a post about a box of treasures and its unknown provenance. Recently, a man contacted me out of the blue-- he was a family friend of the woman who owned the box, and had some light to shed on her life. I'm shipping him the box; he certainly has a greater claim on it than I do. I'll miss you, Loie.
  • Ayn-Rand-worship, or even Rand-tolerance, never fails to irritate. Recently, it came to light that a shadow corporation involved in ground zero demolition-- and possibly corruption-- was named John Galt Corporation. Now it comes to light in the New York Times that a company providing software to TastyKake is named John Galt Solutions. Truly, there is no nobler manifestation of man's will and achievement in the field of excellence than the TastyKake. With the sign of the TastyKake as our symbol — the sign of free trade and free minds — we will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages who never discovered its nature, its meaning, its splendor.
  • I hate baseball. What a silly sport! Grown men chasing a tiny ball around. It's so boring. How can people watch it? Me, I'll take the frenzied excitement of a nil-nil match between Portsmouth and Liverpool over a 11-10 "base-ball" yawnfest. This has nothing to do with the fact that the projected starting lineup for the Giants next year features Bengie Molina at cleanup and about 8 speedy light-hitting centerfielders competing for the leadoff spot. I honestly couldn't care less that the Giants' last 1B above replacement level was Will Clark. Maybe I'll become an Orioles fan. They seem like they're on the right track.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


RIP Bill Walsh.
RIP Ingmar Bergman.
RIP Michelangelo Antonioni.
RIP Dr. Nick Riviera.

Monday, July 16, 2007

George Comstock


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Tiny nugs

  • I was drinking some coffee in the East Village t'other day when I noticed that the guy next to me looked like Vin Diesel. Nah, I thought. Then I figured, yeah, prolly, because Parker Posey and her little annoying white dog came and sat with him after hugs & air kisses. Do all celebrities know one another? Is Buzz Aldrin best buddies with Shia LeBouf?
  • I guess I'm kind of like the Jet Li character in "Unleashed." Trained from birth to fly into a violent rage every time I see Robin Williams smiling smugly in bed with a curiously splotched Mandy Moore in the poster for "License to Wed." Except that my violent rages may be better described as impotent whining.
  • I really don't understand Tony LaRussa.
  • Owsley Stanley once said, "Everything in Cirque du Soleil is wet and French and gay and on fire." The LSD doesn't help, apparently. Or maybe it was Patton Oswalt; whatever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Peanut shell buffalo

I was hungry, so I decided to eat. There is a good burger place a few blocks away from me called Five Guys. It is a small chain in the Washington - Baltimore area. They make really good burgers.

I walked outside and into the hot soupy evening. It was like walking through a nice split pea, or perhaps potato leek, soup. I did not want soup; I wanted a cheeseburger. I was kind of angry when I got to the restaurant.

I ate my cheeseburger and fries in the air-conditioned restaurant, and my mood improved. It was a really good burger. Then I walked to the door and noticed a sign: "DUE TO SEVERE PEANUT ALLERGIES IN SOME NEIGHBORHOOD CHILDREN, PLEASE DO NOT THROW OR CARRY PEANUTS OR PEANUT SHELLS OUTSIDE THIS RESTAURANT."

Five Guys gives you free peanuts as a snack while you're waiting for your burger. This is pretty nice of them. Peanuts cost money.

I was curious about these neighborhood children, so I tried an experiment. I took a peanut shell outside, and dropped it onto the sidewalk. Nothing happened for a little while. Then I heard a low rumble that grew into a tremendous thundering, like the sound of buffalo hooves in the ears of Lewis and Clark. Around every corner, through every bush, over every rooftop, out of every drainpipe cascaded hundreds of slavering children with peanut allergies. Their eyes were not human. They had only one thing on their minds: peanut. The Peanut Horde approached with the rapidity of an allergic jet plane. Spittle was getting in my eyes. I snatched the peanut shell up off the ground just in time. The children disappeared imperceptibly, disinterestedly, shuffling off to their dens.

Monday, June 25, 2007

3 products that I will not buy

  • I was in a bookstore and saw a book called "Punk Marketing."
  • I was listening to the radio and heard a commercial for RideAccidents.com, which is a website designed for people who are paranoid about dying on a roller coaster.
  • I was in a drugstore and saw a medicine named "666 Cold Preparation."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CC&P answers rock stars' questions

Dear Mr. Jones,
I have considered this for a while, and the answer seems childishly simple in retrospect. If you are correct-- and I have no reason to doubt you-- then, by my calculations, going is half the trouble of staying. So I would say "go." Good luck to you!

Dear Mr. Morrissey,
I think it's best not to take things so literally here. When I say it's going to happen "now," I don't mean that it will happen in a moment that is asymptotically equivalent to the very instant my breath ceases to pronounce the word itself. I guess I sort of meant, "in a reasonably short period of time." I understand that you have waited a long time, and that you are even feeling a bit hopeless. For that, I do apologize. Please try to have a little faith, and in the meantime, take a nice bubble bath.

Dear Mr. Fogerty,
I have, and it was lovely.

Dear Mr. Malkmus,
Not really. I don't expect anyone else's attitudes toward me to change, for that matter. It's not like I'm that immature or deluded. But, you know, sometimes you just need to shake things up a bit. I think Ringo Starr once said something like, "Things got to a point where I had to either kill myself or shave my head. I chose the latter."

Dear Mr. Coyne,
Kind of. But I guess I never really thought of it that way. Thanks.

Dear Mr. McCartney,
Do you remember, about ten years ago, how a bunch of rural high school kids were getting killed by lying down in the middle of the road at night, just as the heroes had done in some dumb movie? I'm worried that might happen. Plus I like girls.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shopping list

Felix Pie
Coco Crisp
Candy Maldonado
Cookie Lavagetto
Tim Salmon
Randy Bass
Steve Trout
Catfish Hunter
Mike Lamb
Rob Deer
Rabbit Maranville
Goose Gossage
Chili Davis
Billy Bean
Zack Wheat
Jim Rice
Peanuts Lowrey
Pepper Martin
Bobby Wine
Chet Lemon
Darryl Strawberry
Rocky Cherry
Dan Quisenberry

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Tokyo-Montana Express

Reggie Jackson once said, “'Articulate' is a word white people use to express their astonishment that black people can speak English.” (Note that this was about 25 years before the Biden-Obama thing. It’s true, I swear, even if The All-Seeing Eye of Google can’t back me up. This may have come from Maury Allen’s “Baseball’s 100,” a book that was my personal Bible when I was a kid. Willie Mays, #1, was my personal Jesus. I guess Napoleon Lajoie was my personal Seth, or something.)

Along those lines, it appears that “imaginative” is a word Westerners use to express their astonishment that Japanese authors are not bland, conformist salarymen whose only outlet for individualism is a creepy connoisseurship of schoolgirls’ underwear. This comes to mind because I’ve been reading a bit of Murakami recently, and every single back-cover-blurb follows an identical template: “East meets West in this imaginative romp joining American pop culture with Japanese spirituality. Careening from Bob Dylan to Gary Cooper to Zen koan, it’s as if contemporary Tokyo were placed in a blender and its intestines & pancreas were spattered all over the walls, creating a Japanese interpretation of Clifford Still etc. etc. etc.”

Well, OK, Murakami is imaginative. But I think we can all agree to ban “East Meets West” from ever appearing again, in any language (except ASL; come on, they’re deaf. Cut them some slack). East met West a long time ago; they became fairly well acquainted in the early 1900s, and despite a nasty spat during the early 1940s, they reconciled and began having casual sex during MacArthur’s occupation. East has a toothbrush & lots of clothes in West’s apartment. West has, like, a lot of its shit over at East’s place (it’s totally gonna want its Monks LP back in the event of a breakup; I’m just saying). Corn on Japanese pizza, made by Iranian immigrants = avocado in American sushi, made by Salvadoran immigrants. I’ve heard there are some feral Eurasian kids roaming free. Lock your doors.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cognosce veritate; ecce libertas

Corn Chips & Pie has been in rehab for the past month. I'm feeling much better. I realize that I may have made many mistakes, and if anyone feels as if he were hurt by these hypothetical "mistakes," I apologize. Unreservedly.

I have never felt better. I have an odd gleam in my eye, and I don't smell the same way I used to. I kind of smell like arugula. It's not unpleasant; it's just a little strange. Why do I smell like arugula?

My soft, measured, articulate sentences seem rote. There is a hollowness in my gaze. My pre-rehab narcissism has been replaced by a post-rehab narcissism. Rehab helps one to redirect one's narcissism-- it's like a makeover for one's self-regard. The pig now wears Dolce & Gabbana. Whatever.

Oh, and how have you been?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Corn Chips And Pie: don't pull the plug on me like you did to Schiavo, you heartless motherfuckers

This is the way things are going: I just posted a link, considered it for a while, then deleted it.

It may have been funny. It may have provided a distraction from your genital herpes outbreak for, like, 3 minutes. Sure, it wouldn't have saved no baby sea otters or nuthin', but it may have turned your frown upside down. Inverted your frown, so to speak.

But when you don't post for a month, you get a little gun-shy. You want to return triumphantly. This link was not triumphant. It was moderately amusing. But, you know, maybe I should scale back my aims. Stay within myself. Hit the ball where it's pitched.

Whatever. I'm not dead yet, I swear.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Everyone needs a goat to scape

It is yet April. I know. But the confidence limits have narrowed, and loom like Scylla and Charybdis. I can state with some certainty that this San Francisco Giants season will prove to be the worst since 1996, and perhaps even as bad as the Frank Robinson-led squads of ineptitude from the mid-1980s. And all this, dear reader, if you still exist, is the fault of Pedro Feliz.

  • Pedro Feliz will flail at sliders twelve feet outside the strike zone until he dies.
  • Pedro Feliz cannot advance to third a runner on second with nobody out.
  • Pedro Feliz was instrumental in the politically motivated firing of several U.S. Attorneys.
  • Pedro Feliz looks at the toilet paper every single time he wipes his ass, even the first time.
  • Pedro Feliz is self-righteously indignant that the hoi polloi failed to recognize Joshua Bell playing violin at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro stop in DC.
  • Pedro Feliz finds ethnic cleansing "soothing."
  • Pedro Feliz has three nipples and smells like fetid bongwater.
  • Pedro Feliz is preventing our troops from receiving adequate body armor.
  • Pedro Feliz wants to name his son Cody.
  • Pedro Feliz has a Chinese character tatooed on the small of his back. He believes that it represents "strength."
  • Pedro Feliz refers to Zinfandel as "Zin" and Cabernet as "Cab."
  • Pedro Feliz wishes he were a woman so that he could have an abortion.
  • Pedro Feliz is a single-stranded RNA retrovirus.
  • Pedro Feliz arranges his pubic hair into cornrows.
  • Pedro Feliz was totally trying to get with your significant other the other night. Seriously. I saw him. He was really, like, skeezy and shit. He was all, like, "I really think you have amazing eyes," and when he was told about you (you know?) he totally didn't care. He just kept on giving a really sensual massage and surreptitiously adjusting his awkward erection.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Legalize it

Keith Richards snorted his dad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Humble nuggets

  • Life is cruel, but baseball season starts soon.
  • The Northeast Market in Baltimore is pretty much a giant public health menace, with disgusting greasy food stalls and vermin &c; armed robberies right outside are alarmingly frequent. But it's cheap. Anyhoo, at the Korean-run "Surf & Wok" you can get a weird amalgam of Mexican and Asian food. For $3 you get the "chicken fajita wrap": teriyaki chicken with Sriracha chili sauce, rice, cheese, sour cream, tomato, and lettuce.
  • Which reminds me of the Ruthlessly Efficient Korean Bagelry on the 2100 block of P St. in DC. I can't describe its wonders, other than to say that it is ruthlessly efficient.
  • The other day, me & my friend were invited (out of desperation) to attend a fundraising breakfast for the mentoring program in which we lazily participate. I'd kind of like to flesh this story out in its own post, but let me just say that my friend killed at the breakfast. Had the room in the palm of his hand. And it reminded me (because this is really about me) that I really need to practice my anecdotes.
  • It hasn't escaped my attention that CC&P is in a bit of a slump. A week without posting. 4 bullet points with no jokes or even points. I'll get my swing back, though. I just need to keep working on fundamentals, and it'll come. Gotta stick my stick up.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I'd just like you all to know that the 27 pounds of Argentine beef I consumed are still making their way through my system.

Happy Nightmare Baby.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

3 daily sights

  • An advertisement on Baltimore city buses, featuring a syringe labeled "HEROIN" being split in twain by a glorious cross. "The ONLY faith-based methadone program! $11/day".
  • A giant billboard, featuring a profile of Rodin's The Thinker. "AM I THE DADDY? DNA paternity testing."
  • A big armored van parked by route 83, with bright orange and red lettering heralding mobile bail bonds services.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mighty winds

A week in Buenos Aires, and every observation I have about the place is grounded in cliché. It is very European. There is lots of tasty beef. There is some tango, which is very sexxxy. Emaciated over-surgified women run rampant. I failed to spot any Nazi war criminals. I hopscotched through no infinite libraries. I drank good, inexpensive, red wine.

I am a failure as a blogger and as a human being.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The week's love affairs

I am SO SORRY for being out of touch. I love you all,

  • Athens, Georgia
  • Mr. Wayne Thiebaud
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Jack Clark
  • Patrick Fitzgerald
  • Joanathan Didion
  • The brave marine biologists dedicated to ferreting out the Giant Squid
  • Mel Blanc
  • Samantha Power
  • Chet Lemon
  • Lisa Nowak
  • Sam Flanagan, whose merging of Lily Allen's "LDN" and the Stone Roses' "Waterfall" overwhelmed any possible objections
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Patterson [duckpin] Bowling Center, Baltimore, MD

In Buenos Aires (I am so goddamned fancy) until next week. Stay sweet.

Monday, March 05, 2007

3 things and a picture of Kent Tekulve

  • Baltimore would do well to change its slogan from "BELIEVE" to "GIVE UP."

  • Do you have this problem? I often forget to set Itunes to shuffle, and as a consequence, I've heard the opening bars of the 13th Floor Elevators' "Slip Inside This House" about 5000 times.

  • Great quote from John Ashbery, via the Dust Congress: "I often wonder if I am suffering from some mental dysfunction because of how weird and baffling my poetry seems to so many people and sometimes to me too."

  • happy birthday kenton tekulve

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What's in the box?

Once my friend and I found a dead osprey on a street corner in Baltimore. It was very large, flawless, and still warm. This seemed strange at the time. We wrapped it in a discarded fleece blanket and put it in a cardboard box. This seems strange in retrospect. We carried it down the street, intending to give it a Viking funeral (set box afire & set it adrift in the harbor). A homeless man asked, "What's in the box?" We said, "Dead osprey." He said, "You mean that bird? Oooooooh, I saw him hit the window. Smack!" As often happens, we were distracted by a bar. We entered the bar and drank, using the mysterious box rather successfully as a conversation piece. We were asked to leave the bar.

This reminds me (for no reason) of a homeless guy in San Francisco who would exhort passers-by to take a bag that was sitting on the sidewalk. "Take the bag. Aren't you curious? It's yours. Take the bag. There is two million dollars in that bag. I am conducting a social experiment. Take the bag. Take the bag!" Nobody would ever take the bag. There was a pair of tennis shoes and a hoodie in the bag.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Artyfactual nuggets

  • R.E.M. (the tantalizingly mysterious Michael Stipe wears his perm well) plays "Radio Free Europe" on David Letterman in 1983. Here.
  • I have lived in San Francisco and New York; both cities rightfully honor the Brunch. (You know, brunch. It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. The meal favored by louche pussies.) Kate's Kitchen, Miss Millie's, Dottie's True Blue, M's Cafe, Prune, Clinton St. Bakery, 9th St. Market, etc. etc. But after extensive research and careful review, I have concluded that the best place for brunch in the world is the Blue Moon Cafe in Baltimore. Aliceann St., one block west of Broadway. I will not sully its perfection with logorrhea. They just need stronger coffee, is all.
  • This is pretty horrible. Drug counterfeiters are not only forging packaging with breathtaking virtuosity, but are including subclinical doses of life-saving medications to minimize the chances that patients will realize they're taking fakes. For example, Chinese manufacturers of fake malaria drugs have included acetaminophen to temporarily lower fever & a little bit of real arteminisin (just enough to foster drug resistance). This is genoslaughter, or something. Reader: what can you do? Strap on an AK-47 and head into China. Go nuts, buddy. Tell 'em CC&P sent you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I got the flavor

  • I don't really like them, but I think Skittles have umami. You know what I mean?
  • It is weird that oak has a recognizable flavor.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate's inhibitory effect on sweet-sensing taste buds is the reason orange juice tastes bad after brushing your teeth.
  • The Special Lady (blindfolded) can distinguish between various brands of bottled water. I learned this the hard way. As the loser of our bet a couple of years ago, I had to dress in an adult diaper & pacifier & bow, and strut around Manhattan for several hours. (Prada store, subway, Times Square, Baby Gap, LES, etc.) Did I mention I had to carry around a little boombox playing, on infinite loop, "Who Let The Dogs Out"? There are photographs.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Last bit on Imam Musa

I guess I ran out of narrative steam. I'm not quite sure what happened; I must have been distracted by a shiny bauble-- a colorful little gewgaw-- and I just love gewgaws. Love them! I apologize for losing focus.

Anyhoooo. So Big Hank dealt dope the JC Penney way. Big Hank moved from pot to harder drugs. Big Hank made a killing. At one point, Big Hank looked in the mirror of a nightclub and thought to himself, "Man, I look mean. I look like a drug dealer. I'm sitting there thinking, 'this guy, that guy owes me money.'"

Big Hank kept dealing drugs. Big Hank got involved with "fake Islam"; i.e., the Nation Of Islam. Big Hank started to associate with the Black Panthers. Big Hank fled to Algeria, where he presumably consorted with Eldridge Cleaver and the hanger-on, Timothy Leary. Big Hank changed his mind and turned himself in, eventually doing time in federal prison.

Big Hank had one of those slow-motion epiphanies. There was no one moment, he says. But he converted to Islam (Sunni, though he abhors the exaggerated divisions between Sunnis and Shi'as that prevail these days). Big Hank became Abdul Alim Musa. Abdul Alim Musa became the imam of a major mosque in Washington.

So that's his basic story. I had a wonderfully entertaining conversation with the man; we talked about drugs quite a bit. Although he travels the world to preach the evils of drug use, and exudes a convincing moral opposition to getting high (he is an advocate of legalization, tho), I can't help but suspect that he's a little nostalgic. His stories were just a little too colorful. Anyway, he seemed kind & tolerant & open-minded, despite his apparent reputation as Radical Terrorist Agitator. Now, I can't judge simply based on evidence from a 3-hour Amtrak conversation. But if asked, I will argue that his reputation comes from his rhetoric, and that his rhetoric comes from his formative years in '60s radical Oakland. If you see him on Fox News as a straw man someday, take his rhetoric & his stubborn unwillingness to categorically deny, say, hating America, as the American anti-authoritarianism that it is.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Origami Hank

It's not like I'm a scholar of the Black Power movement or anything. I will force you to admit (through sophistry and karate chops), however, that it is a pretty fascinating topic. I come from a nice, liberal, 1960s-SF-State household in which the Black Panthers etc. were alluded to in tones of nostalgic awe. Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver... two of these guys are dead, and I'll probably never meet the other two.

This is why I was so impressed by my Amtrak seatmate, Imam Abdul Alim Musa (née Clarence Reams, or Big Hank). The setup (curious whitish wiseass meets black revolutionary intellectual) led to an interesting conversational dance. His favorite topics were 1) the US government's conspiracy behind September 11th, 2) general lefty firebrand rhetoric, and 3) the new moon. My favorite topics were 1) his drug-dealing past, 2) the arc of his life, and 3) his sparring with Sean Hannity.

So you can kind of imagine how it went down. It's the sort of situation where you agree with the guy's general stance on everything, and yet agree with none of the particulars. I did a lot of subject-changing during our 3-hour talk. His warm heart + his hatred of authority + the instinct of an impish provocateur = the potential for some serious hot air. This equation also explains why he's a telegenic straw man for right-wing news channels.

I'm busy and it's getting late, so I'll delay the last portion of this serial until tomorrow. But this is what struck me the most: the man has led several different, full lives. He reminds me of this article on origami: the finite square of a life, folded into an inexhaustible series of complex patterns.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Imam Musa

I have some astounding luck when it comes to Amtrak seatmates. Yesterday, on the train from New York to Baltimore, I sat next to a kind-eyed, pleasant fellow who asked me where I was going. Was I born in Baltimore? No. Where was I born? Oakland, I replied. Where? East 33rd and Fruitvale. Ah, he said, I know that neighborhood very well; I'm from East Oakland myself.

Thus began a pretty goddamned fascinating conversation with Abdul Alim Musa, who is the face of radical Islam in America (to Fox News, anyway). He was fresh from an interview-- literally hours ago-- with Sean Hannity, who kept asking him "Do you hate America?"

Mr. Musa is the imam of a major mosque in Washington, D.C., but he began his career as a drug dealer in Oakland known as "Big Hank." Big Hank was fascinated by American entrepreneurs like J.C. Penney, and quickly rose up the Oakland drug ladder through innovation. "I was one of the first-- if not the first-- to make a lot of money (I mean a lot of money) selling smoke." Formerly a small-time drug with a casual economy in Oakland, marijuana got the J.C. Penney treatment from Big Hank.

I have just done some breathtakingly extensive research on J.C. Penney, and discovered a Wikipedia entry on the man. It includes this quotation: "Business is no longer a matter of profits alone. Profits must come through public confidence, and public confidence is given to any merchant in proportion to the service which he gives to the public." That's pretty much how Big Hank approached it. He attained public confidence through a number of familiar measures: branding, attractive and standard packaging, and quality standardization. Random spot-checks and customer follow-up helped ensure the latter. I dunno if he got to the level of Six Sigma, but this is weed we're talking about.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ice nuggets

Some blogs foster the illusion of intimacy; here, it's no illusion. It really is just you and me. Maybe all those Boswell posts sloughed off the dead skin of the CC&P readership. Leaving only you, dear reader, as the shiny pink skin underneath. Shiiiiny pink skin.

  • What sound do you think it would make if Robert Novak's skull collided with Ari Fleischer's skull at 194 mph? I think it would make a pleasant chime, rather like a glockenspiel.
  • Opal's Early Recordings is one of my favorite albums, and I'd long despaired of finding any further material from that Kendra Smith & David Roback collaboration. But I just found their cover of Syd Barrett's "Jugband Blues" on a compilation; good stuff.
  • Which reminds me-- soon I'll post some mp3s for you and your loved ones.
  • Post hoc, I was just informed that I'd hung out with a guy from OK Go (friend of a friend). I had no idea I was this close to YouTube celebrity. It's as if I'd shared a blintz with LonelyGirl. Or played dominoes with a lonely Asian kid singing along to his video game theme music.
  • 'Twas a Snow Day today in Baltimore. Joyous, feral epidemiology doctoral students celebrated the closing of Johns Hopkins by, uh, studying epidemiology.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Boswell's Gonorrhea: Epilogue

As you can certainly guess, I've long loved that episode from Boswell's diaries. (Please start here if you missed it.) It's got all the ingredients: extravagant self-praise, adolescent classical allusion, and burning upon urination.

The comic pacing is almost too perfect to be nonfiction. Intrigue, fluttering heart, overweening braggadocio, completely insufferability-- and then, at the periphery of his senses, a faint itching and burning...

I love how he saved face by bullying the poor pseudonymous Louisa (Anna Lewis). As Dr. D.W. Purdie describes*, she "could honestly assure him that she was free of all signs of infection yet conceal, unknown to herself, gonococci... Boswell was unlucky." I wouldn't go that far. The guy screwed prostitutes all over London and, eventually, the continent. He usually didn't use the sheepgut "armour" of the time. And he died ridden with probably about 55,273 different sexually transmitted infections.

It would have been great to drink with Boswell. I really like the guy. It's probably not an accident that one of my favorite novels is Pale Fire; that book begins with an epigraph from Boswell's Life:

"This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. ‘Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.’ And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favorite cat, and said, ‘But Hodge shan’t be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.’"

I never really understood why Nabokov chose that particular epigraph. Boswell, sure; our honest narrator Kinbote is similar to Boswell in some of the obvious ways, but dissimilar in that I wouldn't want to drink with the guy. As much. Although I do like the line, "I laconically suggested that he 'try the pork.'"

*A pretty fascinating article, as far as articles in medical journals go.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lost VU acetate

You may already know about this, but I didn't. On the WFMU website, you can download every track from the Velvet Underground's lost "Scepter Studio sessions," which features alternate takes and alternate mixes of the songs on the Andy Warhol LP.

It's fantastic. The story of how the acetate came to be found is fairly interesting too, so it's worth a read.

[Via Detailed Twang.]

European Son (alternate take)
Black Angel's Death Song (alternate mix)
All Tomorrow's Parties (alternate mix)
I'll Be Your Mirror (alternate mix)
Heroin (alternate take)
Femme Fatale (alternate mix)
Venus In Furs (alternate take)
I'm Waiting For The Man (alternate take)
Run Run Run (alternate mix)

All tracks are complete with hissy crackly record pops.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's the last one percent that's the toughie

The Reverend Ted Haggard is now 100% heterosexual. He was merely "acting out" when he had repeated sex with his male prostitute & meth buddy.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Boswell Discharges His Frustrations: Part III of III

January 20, 1763

I then went to Louisa. With excellent address did I carry on this interview, as the following scene, I trust, will make appear.

LOUISA: My dear sir! I hope you are well today.
BOSWELL: Excessively well, I thank you. I hope I find you so.
L: No, really, Sir. I am distressed with a thousand things. (Cunning jade, her circumstances!) I really don't know what to do.
B: Do you know that I have been very unhappy since I saw you?
L: How so, Sir?
B: Why, I am afraid that you don't love me so well, nor have not such a regard for me, as I thought you had.
L: Nay, dear Sir! (Seeming unconcerned.)
B: Pray, Madam, have I no reason?
L: No, indeed, Sir, you have not.
B: Have I no reason, Madam? Pray think.
L: Sir!
B: Pray, Madam, in what state of health have you been in for some time?
L: Sir, you amaze me.
B: I have but too strong, too plain reason to doubt of your regard. I have for some days observed the symptoms of disease, but was unwilling to believe you so very ungenerous. But now, Madam, I am thoroughly convinced.
L: Sir, you have terrified me. I protest I know nothing of the matter.
B: Madam, I have had no connection with any woman but you these two months. I was with my surgeon this morning, who declared I had got a strong infection, and that she from whom I had it could not be ignorant of it. Madam, such a thing in this case is worse than from a woman of the town, as from her you may expect it. You have used me very ill. I did not deserve it...
L: Sir, I will confess to you that about three years ago I was very bad. But for these fifteen months I have been quite well. I appeal to G-D Almighty that I am speaking true; and for these six months I have had to do with no man but yourself.
B: But by G-D, Madam, I have been with none but you, and here I am very bad.
L: Well, Sir, by the same solemn oath I protest that I was ignorant of it.
B: Madam, I wish much to believe you. But I own I cannot upon this occasion believe a miracle.
L: Sir, I cannot say more to you. But you will leave me in the greatest misery. I shall lose your esteem. I shall be hurt in the opinion of everybody, and in my circumstances.
B (to himself): What the devil does the confounded jilt mean by being hurt in her circumstances? This is the grossest cunning. But I won't take notice of that at all. -- Madam, as to the opinion of everybody, you need not be afraid. I was going to joke and say that I never boast of a lady's favours. But I give you my word of honour that you shall not be discovered.
L: Sir, this is being more generous than I could expect.
B: I hope, Madam, you will own that since I have been with you I have always behaved like a man of honour.
L: You have indeed, Sir.
B (rising): Madam, your most obedient servant.

[from Boswell's London Journal.]

Temporary break in the Boswell action

This you gotta read.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Boswell Is Puzzled By A Venutian Distemper: part II of III

January 13, 1763
I really conducted this affair with a manliness and prudence that pleased me very much. The whole expense was just eighteen shillings.

January 14, 1763
I strutted up and down, considering myself as a valiant man who could gratify a lady's loving desires five times in a night; and I satisfied my pride by considering that if this and all my other great qualities were known, all the women almost in the room would be making love to me.

January 18, 1763
I this day began to feel an unaccountable alarm of unexpected evil: a little heat in the members of my body sacred to Cupid, very like a symptom of that distemper with which Venus, when cross, takes it into her head to plague her votaries. But then I had run no risks. I had been with no woman but Louisa; and sure she could not have such a thing. Away then with such idle fears, such groundless, uneasy apprehensions!

January 19, 1763
As we went along, I felt the symptoms increase, which was very confounding and very distressing to me... The evening was passed most cheerfully. When I got home, though, then came sorrow. Too, too plain was Signor Gonorrhoea.

January 20, 1763
I rose very disconsolate, having rested very ill by the poisonous infection raging in my veins and anxiety and vexation boiling in my breast. I could scarcely credit my own senses. What! thought I, can this beautiful, this sensible, and this agreeable woman be so sadly defiled? Can corruption lodge beneath so fair a form? Can she who professed delicacy of sentiment and sincere regard for me, use me so very basely and so very cruelly? No, it is impossible... and yet these damned twinges, that scalding heat, and that deep-tinged loathsome matter are the strongest proofs of an infection... And am I then taken in? Am I, who have had safe and elegant intrigues with fine women, become the dupe of a strumpet?

...And then am I prevented from making love to Lady Mirabel, or any other woman of fashion? O dear, O dear! What a cursed thing this is! What a miserable creature am I!

[from Boswell's London Journal. Next: Boswell manfully and benevolently confronts the fair Louisa.]

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Boswell Plunges Into The Fountain Of Love: part I of III

January 2, 1763
"I approached Louisa with a kind of an uneasy tremor. I sat down. I toyed with her. Yet I was not inspired by Venus. I felt rather a delicate sensation of love than a violent amorous inclination for her. I was very miserable. I thought myself feeble as a gallant, although I had experienced the reverse many a time. Louisa knew not my powers. She might imagine me impotent. I sweated almost with anxiety, which made me worse... I told her I was very dull. Said she, 'People cannot always command their spirits'... I fanned the flame by pressing her alabaster breasts and kissing her delicious lips. I then barred the door of her dining-room, led her all fluttering into her bedchamber, and was just making a triumphal entry when we heard her landlady coming up... We were stopped most suddenly and cruelly from the fruition of each other."

January 11, 1763
"This day I had some agreeable conversation with my dear Louisa. All was now agreed upon... my wife was not come to town... her husband proved a harsh, disagreeable creature..."

January 12, 1763
"Louisa and I agreed that at eight at night she would meet me in the Piazzas of Covent Garden. I was quite elevated, and felt myself able and undaunted to engage in the wars of the Paphian Queen... That Ceres and Bacchus might in moderation lend their assistance to Venus, I ordered a genteel supper and some wine."

"Good heavens, what a loose did we give to amorous dalliance! ...Proud of my godlike vigour, I soon resumed the noble game. Sobriety had preserved me from effeminacy and weakness, and my bounding blood beat quick and high alarms. A more voluptuous night I never enjoyed. Five times was I fairly lost in supreme rapture. Louisa was madly fond of me; she declared I was a prodigy, and asked me if this was not extraordinary for human nature. I said twice as much might be, but this was not, although in my own mind I was somewhat proud of my performance."

"I could not help roving in fancy to the embraces of some other ladies which my lively imagination strongly pictured. I don't know if that was altogether fair."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

There's nothing sadder than a glass of wine (alone)

But there's nothing happier than a lot of beer left over from poker. And it's best enjoyed alone. So, basically, I'm saying that these things are sort of complicated.

I had a theory. My theory was that kids often mask their genuine excitement by feigning total disinterest. This theory has been replaced by another: kids are peddling a Ponzi scheme of lies, and when this pyramid comes crashing down, only kid-pulp will remain.

Let me explain. SS had the excellent idea to show the Mentos-Diet Coke reaction to the kids we mentor. So we did. Response: mild interest. But now, a week later, the "experiment" is legend. A massive explosion, etc. Kids are lining up eagerly for the next performance. To mitigate their inevitable disappointment, they will have to find another crop of children, and they will have to exaggerate. I really don't want to be there when the bubble bursts & the kids must face the harsh truth: it's not that impressive. They will cut us with their razor blades.

P.S. When I pressed the button to clean my windshield earlier today, a Slurpee came out. Someone had craftily broken into my car, popped the hood, and poured a slushy mixture of lime-flavored corn syrup and ice into my wiper fluid container. What monster would do this?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One Aspen turns on another

Liveblogging of Judith Miller's appearance at the Libby trial today: here.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Ethicist

Dear Ethicist,

I am a session bass player (I have recorded with Thomas Dolby, Harry Belafonte, and Animal Collective) living in a seventh floor walk-up. I also have mild undifferentiated schizophrenia, though I do not believe this fact is necessarily germane to my question. My downstairs neighbor has informed me that using my dishwasher causes his ceiling to leak rather badly; apparently, there is a ruptured hose somewhere. As a consequence, I do not regularly wash my dishes, and thus cannot cook. I subsist exclusively on takeout from Dumpling Man and multivitamins. I have considered waiting until it rains, and then washing my dishes under the cover of exculpatory precipitation. Would this be ethical?
--Randy Smoot, NY
Under ordinary circumstances, I would advise you to (a) call your super to request repairs, and (b) wash your dishes by hand in the meantime. However, I am feeling blue. I caught my lover in flagrante delicto with a man dressed as a pink bunny-- if you are unfamiliar with "furry fetishists," suffice it to say that discovering this hitherto unpublicized predilection was the occasion for alarm and soul-searching. I have not fully recovered. I regret to say, therefore, that I hope you fucking choke on your dumplings.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Totally safe for work

3 videos to grease the wheels of time:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Those are people who died, died

Cleaning, and found an old Washington Post from 12/22/06. Pretty good obit section that day. I abstract them here for you. For you. I give and give, and what do I get in return? Heartache.

  • Cecil Travis, lifetime batting average of .314, was given a Hereford Bull in an on-field ceremony during his final season with the Washington Senators.
  • Saparmurat Niyazov, or Turkmenbashi The Great, commissioned a gold-plated statue of himself that rotated with the sun "so his heroic visage always caught the light." He also renamed months after himself and his mother. And, of course, he was a brutal dictator.
  • Eleanor Wainstein was a research analyst specializing in international terrorism, and sewed her own clothes.
  • Marjorie Arundel fought tirelessly against illegal bulb harvesting in Asia Minor.
  • Fred Marsden, drummer for Gerry and the Pacemakers, later established the Pacemaker Driving School.
  • Catherine Pollard was the first female scoutmaster.
  • John Nocket, CPA, "retired in the early 1970s but got bored and took a job as chief of internal auditing for the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission."
  • Roy Story was nicknamed "Ma" by fellow prisoners during the Korean War, because he cooked and cared for them all.
  • Margaret Ware was a pilot during WWII and later worked on antipoverty programs.
  • Suzanne Buzzard was inspired to become a civil servant when she heard a speech by JFK in Michigan in 1960. She worked for the Peace Corps and USAID, and had three Zs in her name, four if you count her middle name (Elizabeth).
  • Arnold Price, historian, helped recover the "Hildebrandslied," a 9th century epic poem from Germany that had gone missing after WWII. He made a gingerbread house every Christmas.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sinewy nuggets

  • Collected Insults, Vol. IV: "Just go on home, Roy. Go home and eat your deer. Start at the end with the asshole and just keep going." --Richard Russo, Nobody's Fool.
  • Some guy has mapped out all murders & shootings in Baltimore & DC. Clicking on each tag reveals the name, age, and location of the victim (and perpetrator, if available), along with the cause of death. He's also mapped out the location of Baltimore police surveillance cameras (most accompanied by a freaky blue strobe and the command "BELIEVE").
  • You should check out this blog. He's a friend in exile.
  • We're only two weeks away from the long, dark period with neither football nor baseball. Here's a tremendously unsatisfactory solution: get really into NFL Europe. Some of my maternal ancestors were potato farmers near Hamburg in the 1600s, so this will be my team. The, uh, Hamburg Serfs. The Hamburg Spud Toilers. The Hamburg Sea Devils? Really; the Sea Devils? I hate February & March.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Look, I'm no hero. Will someone please accuse me of being a hero?

My friend and I are mentors to a couple of third-graders in East Baltimore. It's an afterschool program for kids with one parent (or both) in prison. Unfortunately, more than one-third of the kids in this school meet this criterion.

My kid is great, and it's a lot of fun. But my friend and I were thinking the other day: do we spend more time mentoring or talking about mentoring? Because, let's face it: we talk a lot about mentoring. Any excuse will do. The following topics of conversation may be deftly flipped into a monologue on my mentoring experiences: Baltimore, prisons, education, children, pancakes, Bill Parcells, Swisher Sweets, arboviruses. Awkward silences are especially nice opportunities for me to blurt out some self-aggrandizing mentoring story.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Jack Evans here

Hmm. I still think I can do 5 posts per week. Stay with me, foax. Don't give up on this old fool.

To end your week, let me tell you more about Jack Evans:
Jack Evans takes success seriously. He's got a dog-eared copy of The Art Of War on his bookshelf. Though he doesn't buy into all that motivational seminar crap, he does appreciate the value of spotting counterintuitive kinships between the world of business and other disciplines. Jack Evans thinks that he and Muhammad Ali have a lot in common. He once saw a documentary on Cubism; sometimes, during meetings, he tries to imagine how Picasso might address the fucked-up vendor negotiation.

Jack Evans digs Frank Lloyd Wright, mainly because he read The Fountainhead in college. He doesn't remember much about it except (a) architects get serious pussy, and (b) liberal social conscience is for losers. Not that he's a dick. No no; Jack goes out of his way to be nice to the little guy. He talks football with the guys who deliver Poland Spring. He makes sure to remember every employee's name at his Starbucks. And, of course, he makes liberal use of the other person's name in every conversation. Look 'em in the eye, shake hands firmly, smile, and pepper your patter with their Christian names. Trust-building is good business.

Jack will sometimes prep you for his monologues with the trifecta: "Hey, just so you know, a little FYI, little heads-up." But he's doesn't just mouth suitspeak; Jack is usually several months ahead of his coworkers in co-opting African-American slang, and is ruthless about dropping outdated slang. Just last week, he mocked Dave in Marketing for saying "fo' shizzle." Dave will never say it again. Dave knows who the big dog is. Jack Evans is the big dog.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Some nuggets for you

  • The desert ratchets down one's expectations so low that even the humblest signal protruding from the monotonous plain is a revelation. I like it. Odd rocks, unexpected noises, even strange animal shit. One cool thing we found in a side canyon off Death Valley was a profusion of desert pumpkins. They turned out to be Coyote Gourds, and they tasted like bitter poison. Feverish Googling has revealed some desert lore: coyotes trying to wean their pups rub their nipples against the gourds; the bitterness dissuades the pups from further suckling. It must be true: after tasting the flesh of one gourd, I will never again suckle at a coyote's tit. Probably.
  • Correction: I mislabeled the mask below. It is the demon of deafness, not of parasitic diseases. This correction comes from my aunt, whose "virtuosic" performance of Vivaldi's Concerto for Bassoon in E Flat recently won acclaim. Of my lapse, she warns that "no good can come of this, I am afraid."
  • I've never really been sure what made the voyage of the Sloop John B so bad. I mean, it sounds like the worst that happened is that the cook threw away some grits and then ate up all of the corn. It's not like a giant squid attacked the boat and devoured the screaming crew or anything.
  • From the Point Reyes Light, 1/11/07, Sheriff's Calls: [MARSHALL- A resident at 11:41 am reported "a smoldering log on the beach." Deputies investigated.]
  • Also: [INVERNESS- An individual at 9:49 pm reported a "man 'masturbating' on front of employee." Deputies took a report.]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Overheard In Lone Pine

At the Double L Bar:

Mustachioed old man #1: "If your last name is Burns, sure as hell you've got a gene for adventure in there somewhere."

Mustachioed old man #2: "He was one hell of a pilot."


Woman: "I'm not afraid of him, 'cause he treats me like a daughter."

Bearded old man: "I hear he's responsible for 12 kills now."

Woman: "Well, he's on some new medication."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Year's Resolution

5 posts per week.

Uh, just as soon as I return from my semiannual Taming Of The Cacomistles in the desert. Thursday. Like I always say, keep clicking "refresh." Something new and clever is bound to appear soon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gold nuggets

  • If the Special Lady can have a crush on Liev Schreiber, who hit on her at a restaurant, I am surely allowed a crush on Carla Bruni, who did not hit on me at a restaurant. Or maybe she did. Why do you automatically assume that she didn't? Huh?

  • Please note my superhuman restraint. Now watch me violate that restraint with the brutality of a Siberian tiger snapping its hempen tethers. The 49ers finished 7-9 this year with a surprising victory in their last game against the Broncos. I knew they would win, however, since I have magic powers. "Corn Chips The Greek" correctly called their 4-12 season in 2005, and correctly called their 7-9 season this year. Little good my powers do me, other than augmenting my smugness and helping the Special Lady to win $100 in her office pool.

  • When AW's special doctor-pager goes off, it usually says stuff like "car v. pedestrian" or "ladder fall", but the other day, it said "lion mauling," which turned out to be an unfortunately accurate description.
  • I have about a week left on the West Coast before I return to tropical Baltimore. An Xtreme, manhood-affirming camping trip to Death Valley beckons on Sunday. But part of me doesn't want to leave the Bay Area; it's been so fucking beautiful. Valley oaks, scrub oaks, black oaks, blue oaks, Coast Live oaks, tan oaks, bay, madrone, manzanita, toyon, amanita, bobcats and hawks &c... and don't get me started on liar's dice at the Buddha Bar.
  • Via PY: check out this article on Sri Lankan masks representing various diseases. The middle one (in the image above) is Bihiri Sanniya, the demon of parasitic worms and and stomach diseases.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We're at least a decade away from a reacharound machine

Mrs. Fesler, my junior high school English teacher, always touted the virtues of the "Golden Grabber," the name she bestowed upon any arresting opening sentence in an essay. I hope that she would be proud of the following:

If you really need some spare cash, you can volunteer to get fucked up the ass by a machine for precisely five minutes until a viscous vehicle for radioisotopes is ejaculated into your rectum; you must then allow endoscopic imaging and 360-degree SPECT/MRIs of your colorectal tract for the next 24 hours.

HIV is a problem. Condoms work pretty well. Trouble is, lots of folks don't use 'em, and plus, plenty of women in this coercive little world don't have much control over condom use. So the ideer is to develop an effective and cheap microbicide, allowing the fuckee to grease up the vagina or the anus (maybe even in secret), and thus to pork away with fewer worries.

But. Nobody really knew what properties were necessary for an effective microbicide. E.g., how far did it have to, you know, go up there? How long did it have to persist? Enter CH and colleagues, riding to the rescue.

The topic is fascinating and complex, and deserves far more respect than this giggly blog post. But whatever. So CH and colleagues test out microbicides and their performance against semen surrogates. Like I says, they get volunteers to simulate anal and vaginal sex for five minutes (tragically, the median duration of sex) with a fuckin' machine until a researcher presses the "ejaculate" button, spewing forth a gel laden with a particulate radionuclide complex. 24 hours of monitoring and imaging follows.

Anal sex is particularly tricky for microbicides, in part because the wall of the colon is only two cells thick, and in part because there's so much real estate to cover. (Incidentally, it's estimated that there are approximately equal numbers of "anal sex events" between heterosexual couples and gay couples; the frequencies kinda even out.) Among many interesting results, it turns out that within a few hours, the jazz can "migrate" six feet up the colon. And by the way, yes, taking a massive dump may be an inexpensive (if unreliable) means of post-exposure risk reduction.

Anyway. Sleep well tonight, knowing that people way smarter than us are still working on this problem, and marvel that they somehow manage to refrain from making juvenile jokes about it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

El Castillito

In a parallel, more just universe, El Castillito is the West Coast equivalent of Katz's. A line of tourists snakes out the door, across Church St., and into Safeway, where customers kill time by reading In Touch magazine. In this delicious universe, the print of a bullfighter is joined on the wall by framed glossies of celebrities: Richard Dean Anderson, Loni Anderson, Kurt Andersen. Hey, isn't that David Caruso hamming it up with a quesadilla suiza? Ronnie Lott's head looks tiny, for once, next to his Super chicken burrito. Photos of Teamsters leaders, politicians, Bay Area icons (Huey Lewis, Rickey Henderson, the great-great-granddaughter of Lola Montez) jostle for prime real estate behind the cash register.

A sign marks the exact table where Mark Linn-Baker so memorably ejaculated on Shelley Long's tortilla chips in the 1980s romantic comedy Friends With Privileges. Another sign reads "Send A Burrito To Your Friend In Toledo." Smug SF locals remind their out-of-town friends to "get the bottled Coke. It's Mexican. Real sugar."

Why is it my favorite burrito? They grill the tortilla, simultaneously melting the cheese. 3 kinds of beans to choose from. Avocado or guacamole. Option to add onions & cilantro. And-- most importantly-- they re-grill the marinated chicken upon taking your order. The finished product is 2 pounds, easily, and is so delicious that you hardly need to add their avocado/tomatillo salsa. The place hasn't changed much over the years. The name "El Castillito" is remarkably difficult to spot, and is even absent from the sign above the door. They've added a juice machine, and diversified their salsa collection, but it's pretty static.

Chef brother: "Why do you like that place so much?"
Me: "Come on. It's fantastic."
Chef brother: "It's all right."
Me: "All right? All right? Are you kidding?"
Chef brother: "Low standards."