Hot Air

Hores Sense

Happy National Grammar Day, everyone! Watch your colons.

In trying to learn about NGD, I came upon a neat little organization and its blog, both of which, sadly, no longer exist. Why? Well, prob. because nobody much cares about good grammar ennymore. Nevertheless, skim through the posts of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, especially a handwritten essay by a grammar-schooler about his dad’s love of “hores.” A taste:

Hores make you feel good. My dad wants a hores but my mom says no.


“Sex Worker” Is More Appropriate

Natch, good spelling is as important as good grammar.

BTW: Start making your plans now for National Punctuation Day, September 24th every year.

Plaster Saint?

So, the character who, in the interests of truth, justice and the American way, got the Jackie Robinson West Little League team stripped of its 2014 national title got himself in a bit a jam himself early yesterday morning.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Christopher Janes of suburban Evergreen Park, menaced a woman and her husband in the wee hours a block from his house Tuesday. He allegedly chased the woman, who ran into her house after she pulled into her driveway and saw him causing a ruckus. Janes then pounded on her front door and yelled at the couple to come out — using foul language. The couple called the police as Janes ran away. He was apprehended not far away with his arm bleeding.

Janes has been charged with assault, disorderly conduct, resisting a peace officer, public intoxication, and using threatening and vulgar language. At the time of his arrest, acc’d’g to the Trib, he refused to cooperate with police and would not say how he injured his arm.


Janes’ Mug Shot

Meanwhile, nine of the 13 members of the Jackie Robinson West team, traveled to the tony northwest suburb of Northbrook where they met and greeted some 300 kids and adults who came to see them at the local YMCA. The Saturday evening event was sponsored by the Northbrook Community Relations Commission. The players talked about their trip to the White House to meet President Obama, visiting Disney World, their work ethic, and what classes they liked in school.

As for Janes, he will be arraigned April 13 in Cook County Circuit Court.

Mayoral Miscellany

Doug Storm hosted all four candidates for Bloomington mayor last night on WFHB’s Interchange program.

Don’t worry: No blood was spilled.


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The Onion, as always, nailing it:


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Bim Bam Boom

So, yeah, this holy land possesses thousands of thermonuclear weapons capable of turning our fair world into a smokeball. Russia packs a few thousand pika-don fireworks as well. The United Kingdom, France, and China long have been gleeful members of the nuke club. Add to them India, Pakistan, and Israel, all of whom have tinkered their way into armageddon territory.

Funny thing is, most of the above-mentioned gasp and wring their hands whenever another nation-state hints that it’d like to develop the capability to blow the world to bits. Some otherwise smart citizens even say Well, fair is fair: We have the Bomb, why can’t they?

As ludicrous as this sounds, the leaders of those countries who possess nuclear arsenals seem to have been made less rash by their Bombs. Well, at least ever so minutely less rash. Think of Vietnam and how the US didn’t turn it into a full-blown conflagration for fear the Chinese or the then-Soviets might decide to get trigger happy in response. The USSR itself similarly tampered its urges to kill in any number of conflicts in the last half century lest we blow them to smithereens.

So rather than counting the grateful dead by the millions, we’ve kept the number of war casualties to…, um, oh. Millions.

Bomb Test

Huzzah — We’re In The Club!

Still, those leaders of the nuke club fear the prospect of a wild-man gov’t joining its ranks. To wit, North Korea. It’s still trying to perfect its own penis-envy doomsday weapon and no doubt will put an effective warhead on a dependable missile sooner rather than later. And whereas the pioneer members of Nukes, Inc. seemed content merely to develop and test their big bangers — that being enough to scare the bejesus out of their potential rivals — N. Korea seems to dig verbally assaulting its perceived enemies with threats of leveled cities.

Take yesterday, for inst. Ri Su Yong, the North Korean foreign minister, issued one of his country’s regular and predictable threats against to US. If this nation and its allies, South Korea and Japan, keep on flexing their muscles in the neighborhood of North Korea, Ri said, his land’ll blast a US city into its constituent atoms. He elaborated:

Now the DPRK has the power of deterring the U.S. and conducting a pre-emptive strike as well, if necessary.

The muscle-flexing Ri refers to is the annual joint military exercise conducted by the US and S. Korea happening right now. Every year, the US and SoKo play-act at soldiering intentionally in eye- and earshot of those excitable North Koreans. And every year North Korea pledges to take out Los Angeles or Seattle if they don’t stop it.

I mean, possessing the capability to incinerate hundreds of millions of human beings with the push of a button is one thing, but bragging about it? Well, now, that’s going too far.

H-Bomb Ditty

The Renegades covered this old Bill Haley and His Comets single back in 1966. How bizarre a species are we that we can sing in celebration of global nuclear holocaust because that’d mean there’d be one lucky male survivor along with 13 women?

I beginning to think Darwin was wrong. There is no such thing as evolution — only devolution.

In any case, this is a very cool version of a very deranged song.

Hot Air

Life Is Not Fair

Listening to my fave radio station in the world — Louisville’s WFPK — this morning, I learned that it’ll be pushing 60º in the River City today.

Sixty goddamned degrees.



Now L-ville is a mere 71.13 miles from B-ton as the crow flies. So why is it that they get March-like temps and we get freezing rain, sleet, and snow today?

I’m telling you, some rotten-to-the-core weather deity has it in for us.

Condolences; Here’s Your Bill

We all agree that there’s a crisis in health care in this holy land. It’s true even after the initiation of the Affordable Care Act under which some 12 million people are now covered.

Still, though, health care in America is a money game. If you’ve got the dough, you don’t have to worry all that much about fancy tests and ER visits and expensive prescriptions. If you’re poor, well, life is tough, isn’t it?

That is, human health care. What about critter doctorin’?

I know a guy — let’s call him Randy — who’s on the hook for a medical bill from a veterinarian that he can’t pay. He’s an Army veteran and he’s going to school right now, looking to earn his master’s degree in business.

Randy’s cat was injured a while back. Over the next couple of days, the cat’s wound became infected. Randy took the cat to a local veterinarian. The vet told Randy the cat would have to stay overnight. The next morning, the vet called Randy and gave him the bad news — the cat had died that night.

Randy cried his tears and got on with his life. Then the bill came. The veterinarian wanted $600 for treating the cat and boarding it overnight.

To a guy like Randy, $600 may as well be $60,000. He’d be hard pressed to pay if the vet had demanded $60. Randy told the vet he didn’t have the dough. The vet responded by hauling Randy into court.

The two parties have yet to meet before the judge. Randy says the vet is a villain, charging him, essentially, for services that did him and his cat no good. Why, Randy wonders, should he have to pay for them?

This one’s a poser, no?


A Live Cat

Even lawyers, a breed we like to stereotype as money-grubbing, offer services at contingency rates, meaning if they lose your case, you don’t pay them. Can’t doctors do something similar?

The argument can be made that doctors, their nurses, their receptionists, their record-keepers, and everyone else associated with running a well-oiled office still have performed for you whether or not your cat dies or the dot on your skin becomes cancer. Then again, lawyers can say the same thing. Doctors may counter that they actually use goods and products — hypodermic needles, catheters, medicines, and those paper slippers you have to slip on as you trudge down the hall to the MRI room. Somebody’s gotta pay for them.

All Randy knows is he brought his cat in for repair and was left only with an impossible bill.

I don’t know where I stand on this right now. I suppose if I were Randy’s confidant (we’re only acquaintances) I’d suggest he work out a payment deal with the vet or offer to fork over a percentage of the total at once. Of course, Randy would say he doesn’t even have a fraction of the $600.

The only conclusion that makes any sense is being poor sucks.

The Bell Of Bloomington

Our town’s Bell family is quite a high-minded bunch. Janet Cheatham Bell, who lives here, writes about being a black woman, touching on nearly all aspects of living in this holy land, what with our racism, sexism, poverty, materialism, our love of guns, our fear of The Other, and a myriad of different ills. Her kiddo is comedian and social commentator W. Kamau Bell who’s the equal of or better than 98 percent of the gabbers and muggers who appear nightly on television (and don’t ask me who the superior two percent are). He had his own show a while back, on an FX network, but that didn’t work out. He doesn’t look altar-boyish like Jimmy Fallon or innocuously clownish like Conan O’Brien. He looks like, well, a black man and that’s a bit scary for Ma & Pa Kettle.


Bell, Then & Now

Janet has been writing about her negotiations with America for years. Her tomes include:

  • Famous Black Quotations
  • Victory of the Spirit: Reflections on My Journey
  • The Time and Place that Gave Me Life
  • Not All Poor People Are Black

Nobody’s made a movie based on any of her works but I’ll tell you this: They’re a hell of a lot more compelling than some upper middle class white woman’s story about “finding herself” by hanging around with sub-continent mystics and shamans.

Bell (Janet Cheatham, that is) this past month did a series of radio and web interviews largely in celebration of Black History Month. Here are some highlights:

She hints she has a few more interviews coming up in March — Women’s History Month — so keep an ear and/or eye out for them. Perhaps it’s time we start seeing the likes of Janet Cheatham Bell as more than just token speakers for black people but as articulators of the entire human experience. She is one of us — all of us.

Sun Goddess

Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire collaborated on this gem in 1975. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the ’70s were a bad decade for music.

Hot Air

Meet John Hamilton

With a mere two months to go before Bloomington’s mayoral primary election (and the glories of spring, sigh!) John Hamilton met with a houseful of supporters once again yesterday afternoon.

He’s been chatting up cozy groups of friends and allies like this for weeks now, sometimes doing it, say, a couple of times on a Saturday and maybe four times on a Sunday as well as the odd weeknight. It’s hard work, shaking hands, remembering folks’ names, telling a living room full of people what a swell guy you are, pointing out the contributions basket, and fielding questions like How are you, sir, going to save our thriving, throbbing megalopolis from this or that looming peril?

And even though spring and the election are so tantalizingly near, Bloomington woke up to a fresh blanket of six inches of snow on top of the four-to-six already laid down earlier in the week. Ah, I figured, they’re gonna cancel this thing. But a quick check of my email, Facebook, and phone messages revealed no such reprieve from the arctic slog to Tomilea and Jim Allison’s house.

Tomi Allison, of course, was our town’s three-term mayor back in the 1980s and ’90s. She’s thrown her support behind Hamilton, so much so that she’s happy to have a gang of slush-shoed neighbors and pals trudge around her living room and dining room.


Host Tomi Allison

Than again, who knew how many would show up on this hellish March 1st? When I knocked on the Allison front storm door (after already falling into a deep snow bank trying to negotiate my way from street to sidewalk), Jim Allison greeted me thusly: “Well, you’re one of the brave three.” Sure enough, only a couple of other guys sat, lonely-looking, in the ring of a couple dozen chairs. Within five minutes, though, the place filled up.

Either Hamilton engenders this kind of loyalty or Bloomingtonians are simply sick of winter and will use any excuse to get out of the house. Hard to tell. Maybe both.

A pair of young Indiana University students, campaign vols, skittered about, handing out name tags and passing around sign-up sheets as more and more of the faithful stomped their boots on the welcome mat. Tomi brought in fresh pots of coffee and serving plates piled with cookies. Then the man himself showed up. Hamilton joined the boot-stomping chorus as his wife, Dawn Johnsen, did the neighborly thing and removed her shoes. No matter the foot or more of white stuff on the ground, Hamilton was going to run hard for mayor this day and his fans were going to cheer him on.


Hamilton And Johnsen Arrive

Time for chitchat

I told Johnsen she and the old man were real troupers. She replied that an earlier event at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs already had been cancelled but she and John were raring to go to it if it hadn’t. They walked here, though, but will have to drive to a third scheduled event immediately after. “I told my son the driveway’d better be shoveled when we get back from here,” she said.

Hamilton talked to a group of three about his book club’s current selection, Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man. One of the the three, a woman, tells him about the book she’s reading, Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial. The woman says it’s about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in a New Orleans hospital. She described the chaos, the suffering, how piles of dead bodies were found in certain rooms. Every level of government, she said, was caught unprepared for the hit. Hamilton shook his head sadly. ‘You can make great plans for any possible disaster that could happen every hundred years,” he said, “but then you’d have no time to do anything for today and tomorrow.”

I flashed to a landmark political event in my beloved hometown Chicago, the blizzard of ’79, when nearly 20 inches of snow paralyzed the city. The mayor at the time, a seat-warmer named Michael Bilandic, took the heat for the city’s inability to cope and was ousted for it by upstart Jane Byrne in the mayoral primary a month and a half later. Hamilton, I mused, had better pray no such natural surprise derails his mayoral career should he win in May.


Mary Kay Rothert And Tomi Allison Chat

Time for the star of the show. Jim Allison stood up and said his introduction would be blessedly short. “Having been married to a mayor of Bloomington for 13 years, I think I know what a mayor looks like,” he said. “Here’s our next mayor, John Hamilton.”

Hamilton spent the next 15 minutes or so laying out his curriculum vitae. He called himself a “proven progressive.”

“I love government,” he said, meaning, not necessarily that he was Ronald Reagan’s worst nightmare (although he probably would be), but that he really digs the work. Then he delivered a subtle dig at his main opponent, City Council member and outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s hand-picked successor, Darryl Neher, a former Republican. “I am — all my life — a Democratic progressive.”

Now Neher may be thinking of coming up with his own riposte — Hamilton has moved from Bloomington to Washington, DC and back again since the mid-’90s. Johnsen worked for what is now NARAL Pro-Choice America and then became President Bill Clinton’s head of the White House Office of Legal Counsel. While in Washington, Hamilton started a community land trust as well as a lending bank for small businesses and low-income neighborhoods in the capital. Neher may ask if Hamilton wants to stay in Bloomington this time. Hamilton’s ready for that one: “I don’t want to live anywhere else,” he said.

After sufficiently selling himself to a crowd already sold, Hamilton then took on the city. “In the last ten years we’ve made some bad choices that have made downtown less beautiful,” he said. He mentioned the spate of hotels and high-end condominium developments that are springing up around the formerly quaint Courthouse Square. It’s all growth, sure, but the city must give some consideration to its residents who can’t afford huge mortgages and rents. Hamilton promised to make sure “that people of all kinds and all incomes can live in Bloomington.”

He went on: “We have a very high poverty rate. We’re in the top fifth of Indiana in terms of food stamps.” He pledged to provide tender loving care for existing businesses here and market the city nationwide to attract other businesses — and the jobs they’ll bring — to Bloomington.

Those poor folks here, he said, will be the last to be served when the big private broadband companies start building a citywide network. Rather, Hamilton suggested, the city should build its own network and perhaps it can use its TIF moneys to pay for it.

Speaking of those TIF funds, Hamilton said he wants to use some of that dough to give loans to local small businesses to expand.

Jumping back to big construction developments in town, Hamilton called for “inclusive housing,” meaning all developments must include affordable units and those lower-cost homes must be meant for the long term not only for the ten-or-so-year life of the planning agreement.

Hamilton said his aim, if elected, will be to eliminate all kids’ homelessness and half of overall homelessness in five years.

All this will be done in an open, transparent environment, Hamilton said. He asked: “Does anybody know how long it takes to fill a pothole in Bloomington? Not a trick question. Nobody knows. [It’s important that] the public sees and knows what their government is doing.”

Of course, parking meters came up. Hamilton used it to reinforce his assertion that the current administration and council have been less than forthcoming on crucial issues. “Do you know what’s happening with the parking meter money? I don’t.”

What do you think of the meters? a woman asked.

“There’s a tradition in Native America saying that crows are very wise animals,” he said. The new downtown parking meters have been bombarded by crow droppings this winter. “Are these [meters] serving a purpose? And what is it?” he said. No one, Hamilton added, knows exactly why the downtown meters were installed.

To fix that, Hamilton said he and his cabinet would have weekly sessions to meet the public, answer their questions and hear their complaints. “It won’t be fun,” he said, “but it has to be done.”

He concluded by reminding the crowd that fewer than 10 percent of eligible voters show up on primary election day. “You’ve got to talk people into voting,” he said.

During the question and answer session that followed, Hamilton made the following points:

  • The city should catch up to the county in terms of sustainability measures and initiatives.
  • If utilities companies are afraid about more and more people generating their own electricity through solar panels, “Tough.”
  • His cabinet will not be filled with yes-women and men.
  • The decision by IU Health/Bloomington Hospital to move from just south of downtown to the North Park campus outside the city is by no means a done deal, no matter what IU Health says — “It may even be worth it to us to spend money to keep the hospital downtown. I’m not giving up yet.”

It was nearing four o’clock. Hamilton had pressed the flesh and talked for two hours. It was time for him and his crew to head to that next house party. “We’re in a battle,” he said. “We need to show our progressive policies work.”

And so the Hamilton gang ran off. They’ll be running until May 5th.


Johnsen, Campaigning

[I’m scheduled to attend a Darryl Neher house party a week from today. Stayed tuned for my report in this space.]

Hot Air

Storm Of Battle

Doug Storm, the dynamic, dynamite host of WFHB’s Interchange is gathering the 2015 Bloomington mayoral combatants in his studio for a battle royal Tuesday evening.

The four candidates for mayor — John Hamilton, Darryl Neher, John Turnbull, and John Linnemeier — have agreed to face the nation…, er, well, the city live on-air with Storm officiating.


[L-R] Linnemeier, Neher, Turnbull, Hamilton

Storm wants the B-ton citizenry to submit some Q’s before the show so if you want to know how Neher or Linnemeier might react if the ISIS hordes threaten our thriving, throbbing megalopolis send an email to Doug at

The party primaries will be Tuesday, May 5th with Hamilton, Neher, and Linnemeier facing off for the Dems and Turnbull running unopposed in the Republican race. This promises to be a fun election, what with it being the first real contested campaign in better than a decade. Neher has outgoing Mayor Mark Kruzan’s backing while Hamilton claims former mayors Tomilea Allison and John Fernandez as allies. Hamilton also is amassing an all-star cast of Indiana University Maurer School of Law profs on his endorsement roster as well as former legislators Lee Hamilton and Baron Hill and even singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer. Neher counters with current statehouse figures Shelli Yoder and Matt Pierce.

[Correction: Isabel Piedmont-Smith correctly points out that Shelli Yoder is not a “statehouse figure.” Yoder is a member of the Monroe County Council. Mea culpa. And thanks, Isabel.]

Both Turnbull’s and Linnemeier’s candidacies appear quixotic at this time.

Storm’s got plenty of questions to throw at the quartet but he’s still aching for listener input. Go to the show’s Facebook page for more info. And tune in, for pity’s sake, Tuesday at 6pm on WFHB, 91.3 FM. It promises to be an hour of real democracy — fitting since we like to call ourselves one.

Big Questions

And, hey, don’t forget I’m doing a Q&A thing with the four candidates myself. Yup. Even now the boys are contemplating deep questions like What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? and Do you do your own taxes?

Now that’s democracy, kids.

My profiles of the candidates will appear in next month’s Ryder magazine. If that doesn’t get you voting, hell, I have no idea what will.

Who Loves The Sun?

I do. Even today, when it’s a goddamned bone-chilling 11º at 10 in the morning.

This recent spate of frigidity has turned me off even from checking the NOAA site for the 10-day forecast. I figure Why depress myself?

That’s why, when I overhead someone say it was going to be 50 degrees come Tuesday, I started feeling that old hint of optimism. Winter, folks, just may end one day. You heard it here first.


Hot Air

Stadium Suckers

Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that the Indy Eleven is, hands down, the worst team name in professional sports. Let’s wonder instead why these eleven short-pants wearers can’t play their short pants game in Lucas Oil Stadium.

The reasonably new sports palace just south of Indy’s downtown has a playing field, a bunch of seats, and — most important — beer stands and licensed apparel shops. You drape two thirds of the stadium’s 62,000 seats, allowing for a soccer capacity of 20,000 and there you go. Apparently that’s not good enough for the (ugh!) Eleven. Why it’s not is a mystery.

Lucas Oil Stadium

Not Good Enough

Another mystery is the existence of Lucas Oil Stadium itself, considering the Circle City and the State of Indiana already had a perfectly good, barely 20-year-old monument to sports excess in the Hoosier Dome or the RCA Dome or what in the hell ever they were calling it until the day in 2008 when it was imploded. The Indianapolis Colts (a far superior team name, BTW) had stomped their feet and threatened to hold their collective breath until the taxpayers of Marion County and the state were forced to build them their current three quarters of a billion-dollar sandbox.

And the funny thing was, the same suckers [us] had footed the bill for the, again, barely 20-year-old Hoosier/RCA dome back when the Colts owners agreed to abandon the city of Baltimore if only Hoosiers would gift them the new digs. When the demolition company lit the fuses on the dynamite under the “old” stadium, taxpayers still owed some $75 million on it. This sports arena racket can get awfully slimy, no?

Lucas Oil Stadium cost ten times the amount needed to build the first Indy dome. Ten times! Why, surely, the new joint must be a wonder of modern engineering and sports housing, able to host any game from chess to, well, soccer.

Apparently not.

The Eleven simply can’t play kick-the-ball in Lucas Oil Stadium and so must prevail upon the Indiana state legislature to build them their very own palace. The half-approved new Eleven home (the House has okayed it; the Senate, though, seems a tad less enthusiastic) will cost some $82 million with financing coming from a new tax on certain hotels as well as the putative receipts from future games there. The only prob. is the Eleven (god, I hate even typing the word) are insisting they won’t pay their share of the construction costs if the attendance tax doesn’t cover the bill. That means — yup, you guessed it — you and I would be taxed to retire that debt.

Meanwhile, schools go wanting, veterans live on the street, drug rehab centers are being squeezed, and even the Indiana State Library is being put on a severe austerity footing.

Yet a bunch of ball-kickers who can’t even come up with a decent name for themselves merit a pricey pad.

This 21st Century is really starting to suck.

Users Are Losers

No doubt you’ve caught the news about the conviction and subsequent sentencing to life in prison of that deranged former Marine who mowed down “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and another man.

Eddie Ray Routh’s defense attorneys tried to persuade the jury that their client was driven to madness by to horrors he’d witnessed during his stint in Haiti, where the Marines helped earthquake victims in 2010. Well, further madness: He’d been in and out of mental hospitals, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The Erath County, Texas, jury didn’t buy the argument, largely because the prosecutor had told them Routh had gone through a fast-food drive-in after the shootings and, for pity’s sake, how can a psychopath do that? Ergo, he must be sane as pie.

Rather, the prosecutor posited that Routh was simply a homicidal maniac who — horrors! — was a pot smoker. The subtext was You know those pot smokers, they’re capable of anything!

Funny thing is, the movie that started the whole pot-smokers-are-psychos thing, Reefer Madness, came out nearly 80 years ago. And as far back as the late 1960s, the movie has been the object of ridicule among peeps who know better. So it’s a wonder any good prosecutor would reach that far back into her bag of obfuscating tricks to beat an insanity defense.

Lobby Card

Old, Old, Old School

The second funny thing is that the pot-turns-users-into-maniacs strategy would even work in this day and age — in Texas, no less. I can’t imagine there being many folks who haven’t toked up in Texas. I mean, if I were stuck in Texas I’d consider any drug that would make me forget that fact to be as vital as air or water.

And funniest of all was Kyle and his pal’s decision to bring the vet to a gun range so he could “deal with” his PTSD.

Huh? I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes trying to think of an analogy that would be as ridiculous as that. Can’t do it.

Well, Texas. Need I say more?

Bristly Brew

Okay, so this whole craft beer thing is going way off the rails now.

Small batch beers have been brewed with ingredients like bananas, oysters, gold, frankincense and myrrh, and bulls’ testicles. All true. A poor sap must really have a great need to get sloshed to drink any beer made from those things. And brewers remain on the lookout for any new kinky item to toss into the vat.

Case in point: I was at the bar upstairs at Finch’s Brasserie Tuesday evening, listening to Kinsey Institute prof & researcher Justin Garcia tell us all about “Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Sexual Behavior and Romantic Love.” It was this month’s Bloomington Science Cafe subject and, natch, drew a packed house since it concerned bonking.

The bartender asked me what I wanted to drink and I said, “A beer, I guess,” pointing in the general direction of the taps. I’m not picky when it comes to beers as long as they aren’t the yellow-tinged water sold at sporting events. No matter; the bartender handed me a dense menu and recommended a brand new brew. ‘This is really good,” he said, pointing at one selection. “Everybody likes it. It’s very good.”

Yeah? I said, not really caring one way or the other.

“Yeah. You know what. It’s made with yeast that’s been cultured from the fungus found in the brewer’s beard.”

Um, what?

“Uh-huh. They took a sample from his beard and then they grew the yeast in the lab.”

He nodded, knowingly, as if this tidbit would be the closer in the sale.

Maier Beard

The Brewmaster’s Beard

“Why the hell,” I asked, “would I want to drink that?”

“It’s good,” he said, a little less confident now. I did, indeed, not drink that.

The question, though, remains. As does What in the holy hell are they gonna make beer out of next?

Hot Air

Winter’s Winning

Okay, things are getting weird now. WFIU’s Annie Corrigan told me this morning that the temp was -11º. So when I went outside to let Steve and Sally the Dogs out, I figured I’d freeze my delicate Fred Flintstone toes off.

Didn’t happen.

In fact, the air outdoors didn’t feel all that cold. It felt more like 11 degrees above zero.

Aha, I thought, Annie’s reading the temp wrong. Or something. Admittedly, 11 degrees above is not the condition under which you’d start thinking bikinis and fishing poles. But it is a 22-degree shift which, at any temp, is significant. I dashed back in to check the NOAA’s National Weather Service website. Lo and behold, the feds said we were sitting at -12º, a precious degree colder than Annie said.

What’s happening? Am I — shudder — starting to knuckle under to winter?



It’s depressing I tell you. Well, even more depressing than I’ve been thanks to this winter that began, um — when was it, back in September?

The Loved One snapped at me the other day in response to yet another of my ranting diatribes regarding this second yucky winter in a row. “Just get used to it!” she said.

Can it be? Am I getting used to it? Pardon me while I cry.

Humans Write

You and I both know this thriving, throbbing megalopolis is chock-full of writing talent. Do you need proof? Then hie down to Boxcar Books, Sunday for the Writers Guild at Bloomington‘s monthly First Sunday reading.

This month’s featured scribes include Amy Cornell, Antonia Matthew, and Gabriel Peoples.

  • Amy Cornell is one of the many good local souls involved in helping Monroe County Corrections Center inmates read and write. She leads writing circles there. Her work includes poetry, creative non-fiction, novels, blog posts, book reviews, and short stories.
  • Antonia Matthew has led the writing group Five Women Poets for years. She’s written, among other things, about her mother’s experiences with Alzheimer’s and her own time as a child in World War II England.
  • Born in Detroit, Gabriel Peoples lives in both Bloomington and College Park, Maryland, where she’s working toward her PhD in American Studies at the University of Maryland. She’s focused her studies on Black Performance Studies & Visual Culture.

Sounds like a compelling, varied line-up, no? Go there and support these writers.


Other than giving her a fat paycheck, the greatest thing you can do for a writer is listen to her read her stuff. Boxcar is at 408 E. 6th St. The readings begin at 3pm and run through 5pm.

The Mind Of A Leader

So, Rahm Emanuel goes before the voters of my beloved hometown Chicago today seeking a second stint as the object of hundreds of thousands of people’s rage, disappointment, and contempt.

Why anyone would want to be a president, a state governor, or the mayor of a city is beyond me. Some suggest such ambitious folks are, well, sort of off in the head. Several psychological observers have even advanced the notion that presidents and prime ministers are more sociopathic than not.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? What kind of person says, “Yeah, I want to be the most powerful human being on the planet, possessing the full capability to incinerate hundreds of millions — nay, billions — of my fellow human beings with the press of a button.”

Honestly, when The Loved One says it’s my turn to let the dogs out, I feel crushed and oppressed by the responsibility. “Do I hafta?” I whine.

Mayors must juggle the wants and demands of a seemingly endless parade of satisfaction seekers. And to do this, those mayors must slice up an ever-shrinking pile of dough. No matter what Rahm Emanuel or Bill De Blasio chooses to do, he’s going to make a lot of people mad. Not just mad as in angry; mad as in, well, mad.


A quartet of men want to be Bloomington’s next mayor. Two of them have an honest chance. By a couple of years after the election, the victor will be both the most hated and loved man in this city of some 75,000. For my money, Darryl Neher and John Hamilton are capable, nice, good guys. But, let’s be frank, they’ve both got to be crazy to want the job.

Let’s hope the next mayor’s skull doesn’t explode when, at some point in 2016, his wife says it’s his turn to let the dogs out.

Summer Soft

No, no! I won’t let winter win!

Hot Air

3/4 Liberal

Last night’s Oscar® presentation reminded me of a dirty little truth about liberal Hollywood: If your movie celebrates the sick, women, or gay men, you’ll be showered with gold trophies.

Movie Poster

Not The Best Of Anything

If it’s about life in Black America, well, would you step to the rear of the Academy®, please?

They Got Rhythm

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Selma did win an award last night.

“Glory” won the Oscar® for best song. Fitting, no? Those people really have a knack for music, don’t they?

Let’s Put On A Show

Congrats to B-ton thespians Ken Farrell and Kate Braun. They’ll be trekking up New York state way come summer to appear in a production of Kalamazoo there.


Farrell & Braun In BPP’s “Kalamazoo”

The two-person play had its world premier here at the Bloomington Playwrights Project last fall. Farrell and Braun will reprise their roles in the comedy about senior love written by Michelle Kholos Brooks and Kelly Younger. Check out George Walker’s WFIU review of the BPP show here.

Kalamazoo will open at the 300-seat Charles R. Wood Theater in Glen Falls, NY, June 23rd and runs through July 3rd.


People are taking to the interwebs to tut-tut about the latest trend among shrinks to declare orthorexia nervosa an honest and real, um, thing.

ON is Latin, natch, for correct eating nervous disorder. The syndrome is not yet listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) as something the pharmaceutical cos. should whip up a quick drug for but, more and more, skull jockeys are ID’ing folks with it and even treating some of them.

Bloomington, perhaps the region’s mecca for healthy, natural eaters, is largely up in arms about this development. The standard rant goes, If eating healthy is a mental illness, call me crazy.

So, what’s the prob. w/ eating correctly? Potentially, plenty.

The shrinks are not saying eating healthy itself is pathological, only the obsession and/or compulsion associated with it. We’re moving toward a world wherein the act of eating is seen, per se, as being somehow fraught with danger and even, y’know, bad.

In fact, anything that goes in your mouth must be analyzed, tested, passed, approved, blessed, and made purer than is humanly possible on top of the fairly rigid set of standards imposed on food and drink by the federal government as well as state, county, and municipal regulators. Those who aren’t constantly on the alert for poisons and toxins in their grub and liquids are saps, the neo-conventional wisdom goes.

To wit: I needed a drink of water out in public the other day and so poured myself a nice glass of eau d’Lake Monroe from a nearby faucet. The person who was with me was aghast. How, she wondered aloud, could you possibly want to fill yourself up with Grandma’s arthritis medications? Apparently she’d read somewhere that our lakes and rivers now are teeming with pissed-out drugs and other horrifying contaminants and so no one should ever drink tap water again.

I don’t know if the woman is suffering from orthorexia nervosa but she’s prob. well on her way.

See, this spanking new diagnosis isn’t for people who get that it’s ill-advised to eat McDonald’s three times a day. We’re omnivores, sure, but even our relatively cast-iron gullets should be spared the indignities of dross like Pringles and Snapple. All of us with functioning cerebra eat reasonably healthy. We’ll snigger and shake our heads while perusing the grocery baskets of folks loading up on jumbo bags of Wavy Lays or Spaghetti-O’s. We eat our fruits and vegetables and shy away from Pop Tarts.

BTW: I found a news report from KRON Ch. 4 about a woman who was busted after police found in her car a plastic spoon with a suspicious residue on it. The cops were certain the spoon was covered with meth. Lab tests were performed while the woman spent a month in jail and the results showed that the residue was — yup — Spaghetti-O’s sauce. Any food that can be easily mistaken for a killer synthetic substance in reality is no food at all. The knowledgable among us grasp that elementary concept; ergo we shun Spaghetti-O’s.


Food Or Meth — Who Knows?

Nothing pathological about that. But ON sufferers lump Spaghetti-O’s with every and any comestible item that hasn’t been grown by an Amish-bearded farmer who hasn’t used deodorant soap since his teen years.

Folks, eating isn’t all that dangerous.

Anyway, all those Bloomingtonians who believe the American Psychiatric Ass’n is now in league with Monsanto to turn all our food products into so many long-chain polymers should take a deep breath.

The ON memes people are viral-ing originate mainly from the website The Mind Unleashed, a hell-in-a-handbasket hysteria-mongerer. TMU is described by RationalWiki as “a pseudoscientific, woo-peddling, clickbait website with a propensity to misrepresent data from studies and present it as scientific fact for their own gain. With just a soupçon of bigotry for flavor.”

An article in Forward Progressive headlined “How Conspiracy Nuts Are Duping Well-Meaning Liberals” describes such sites thusly:

The Mind Unleashed, NaturalNews and others like them pose as science and education pages when they actually disseminate pseudoscience and utter bullshit, for profit. Go to the links that they post and then search on those websites for articles concerning vaccines, fluoridated water, GMOs and if you’re feeling really adventurous, chemtrails. Yes, the batshit crazy idea that somehow our government has been spraying the US population with chemicals from jet engine exhausts to make them dumb and subservient for decades – they cover it, a lot.

Just helping the populace sort through the madness.

Out, Damned Spot!

And, finally, speaking of madness, didja catch the report on NPR’s Morning Edition today about how our mania for cleanliness actually might be making us unhealthy?

Yep. See, a Swedish study of more than a thousand kids found that those whose parents washed dishes by hand suffered fewer incidences of eczema, allergic asthma, and hay fever than did those whose families used an automatic dishwasher.

Washing Dishes

Sheesh, Relax

Appliance dishwashers generate water temps of plus-180ºF. This sanitizes dishes and utensils, meaning the micro-organism counts thereon are reduced dramatically over those washed by hand. The study posits that exposing kids to more bacteria and such actually builds their immune systems. Kids not as broadly exposed, therefore, have a more difficult time fighting off the aforementioned maladies.

This craze for purity, both in eating and in our households, is turning out to be one of our 21st Century weirdnesses. Again, folks, just chill.


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