Hot Air

The Acting Profession

Dunno about you but that whole Django Unchained actress run-in with the police smelled rotten to me from the get-go.

The photo of her crying struck me as kinky. She looked like nothing other than an actress chewing the scenery.

Watts

Danièle Watts, Emoting

And now we discover that she and her boymate were banging in the car, in the middle of the afternoon, on a public street, with the door open wide enough so that people could photograph their congress from a nearby office building.

But what turned my stomach almost as bad as her falling back on a celebrity privilege copout and a racial profiling charge was the fact that she and her Romeo wiped themselves clean of bodily fluids and then proceeded to toss the wadded up napkins or tissues on the parkway outside their car.

The whole thing stunk of arrogance, entitlement, and puerility.

And it fries me that now Right Wingers’ll say, for the trillionth time, See, they’re always pulling out the race card.

Bowie

How cool is this?

Tuesday, September 23rd, will be David Bowie Day in Chicago. That’s the day that the Museum of Contemporary Art will open its “David Bowie Is….” retrospective exhibition.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke temporarily from his usual union-busting, 1%-kowtowing duties to sign an official City Council proclamation declaring the city in thrall for 24 hours to perhaps my fave rocker.

Chicago City Council

The exhibition runs through January 4th and includes “[m]ore than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive — including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades….”

And, in case you’re dying to find out, here are my two fave Bowie discs:

Bowie Discs

Station To Station (L) & Low

When I was a callow 20 y.o., I longed to be as cool as Bowie, mainly because he was everything I wasn’t: British, a rock star, thin, light-haired and -skinned, a poet, fragile as a porcelain doll, and rich. One night in about 1979, he dropped in at Neo, a club I haunted regularly. “Go talk to him!” someone said to me. But I was too scared.

Bowie, it turned out, was really short and, in reality, just a guy. In fact, he stumbled as he walked past me away from the bar. That night I decided I would celebrate my non-Bowie-ness as Big Mike.

Calling For Help

Middle Way House reports a 77 percent increase in calls regarding domestic abuse in the days since the Ray Rice/Janay Palmer security cam recording was released. This morning’s Herald Times [paywall] quotes MWH exec director Toby Strout as saying, ““When a celebrity commits domestic violence or sexual assault, it makes the front page for a while, people pay attention.”

Which is a goddamned shame. Which, also, is why I call on all who read this to drop a dime whenever you hear what sounds like a physical altercation. If you’re wrong, so what?

Black Eye

Not only that, for my own part, I’ll continue to socially shun anybody I know or am acquainted with who has assaulted and/or battered a “loved” one.

The onus is on us to teach our males that rape and battery aren’t boys-being-boys funtimes but repulsive crimes. How have you conveyed this to your sons, nephews, grandchildren, or brothers lately?

Lotus Fest Sked

Here’s your Lotus Fest 2104 lineup:

Venues

  • Buskirk Chumley Theater 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First United Methodist Church 219 E. 4th St.
  • First Christian Church 205 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First Presbyterian Church 221 E. 6th St.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Tent 6th St. between Walnut & College
  • Old National Bank/Soma Tent 4th & Grant streets
  • The Bluebird 216 N. Walnut St.
  • 3rd St. Park 331 S. Washington St.

Thursday, September 18th

● 7pm: Söndörgó, Canzoniere Grecanino Salentino Buskirk Chumley Theater

Friday, September 19th

● 6:30pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 6:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7pm: Kaia First Presbyterian Church

● 7:15pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:15pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

Mames

Mames Babegenush

● 7:15pm: The Revelers Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 8:05pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Nagata ShachBuskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Van-Anh Vanessa Vo First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: FullSet First Presbyterian Church

● 8:50pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 9:50pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 10:10pm: Banda Magda Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First Christian Church

Struthers

Nora Jane Struthers

● 10:25pm: Erkan Ogur’s Telvin Trio First Presbyterian Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Saturday, September 20th

● Noon to 5pm: Lotus in the Park 3rd St. Park

∙ 12:15pm: Kaia

∙ 1pm: Banda Magda

∙ 1pm: Radha Lakshmi

∙ 1:45pm: Arga Bileg

∙ 2:30pm: Sancocho Music & Dance Collage

∙ 3:15pm: Lotus Dickey Song Workshop

∙ 4pm: The Revelers

● 6:30pm: FullSet Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 6:30pm: Arga Bileg First United Methodist Church

Arga Bileg

Arga Bileg

 

● 7pm: Banda Magda Bluebird

● 7:15pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7:15pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 7:15pm: Las Cafeteras Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:30pm: Nagata Shachu Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:50pm: Kaia First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: The Revelers Bluebird

● 8:50pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Derek Gripper First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 10:25pm: Emel Mathiouthi Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Singing for the Planets First Christian Church

● 10:25pm: FullSet First United Methodist Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Sunday, September 21st

● 3pm: World Spirit Concert: Arga Bileg & Derek Gripper Buskirk Chumley Theater

Hot Air

Genius

The MacArthur Foundation has released its 2014 Fellows list and — whaddya know? — graphic novelist Alison Bechdel has scored a prize for, as the org. puts it, “redefining” the memoir.

Bechdel has written a couple of graphic memoirs entitled Fun Home and Are You My Mother? She became known a few years ago for her strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

Book Cover

I’ve hammered on this before and I’ll continue to do so: You have to get into graphic novels. They’re not just superheroes and Watchmen or fantasy cosplay stuff. The first GN I ever read was J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography by Rick Geary. Trust me when I say it was ten times more compelling and informative than any other conventional biography of one of this holy land’s most evil 20th Century villains.

Large swaths of Bechdel’s story lines concern her struggles as a starving artist. Scoring the Mac. Fellowship happily ought to ease the money crunch for her for a while at least.

The Fndn. also tossed kudos and scratch in the direction of labor activist Ai-jen Poo, who has been a lifelong labor organizer for domestic workers. She co-founded Domestic Workers United and then moved on to executively direct the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Her groups have been instrumental in getting  domestic workers’ protection laws passed in numerous states.

MacArthur 2014

Ai-jen Poo (L) & Alison Bechdel

The annual Fellowships are known popularly as the MacArthur Genius Grants. The Foundation awards the grants to selected US citizens who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” The grants, now standing at $625,000 to each awardee, are designed to allow artists, thinkers, and activists a very comfortable five-year window to create, think, and be active w/o worrying about next month’s rent.

Past winners include:

  • Stephen Jay Gould paleontologist
  • Robert Penn Warren poet & author
  • Cormac McCarthy author
  • Elaine Pagels historian
  • John Sayles filmmaker
  • Harold Bloom literary critic & humanities professor
  • Merce Cunningham choreographer
  • Marian Wright Edelman children’s actvist
  • James (The Amazing) Randi illusionist & educator

Randi

Randi

  • Thomas Pynchon author
  • Max Roach jazz drummer
  • Erroll Morris documentary filmmaker
  • Susan Sontag author
  • Taylor Branch historian
  • Twyla Tharp dancer

Tharp

Tharp

  • Ornette Coleman jazz musician & composer
  • Adrienne Rich poet
  • Cindy Sherman photographer
  • Anna Deavere Smith playwright & actor
  • David Foster Wallace author
  • Katherine Boo journalist
  • Lydia Davis poet
  • Alex Ross music critic
  • Edwidge Danticat author

Danticat

Danticat

  • Junot Diaz author
  • Karen Russell author

Altogether, there’ve been nearly 1000 MacArthur Fellowship winners with a total take of some $375 million. Money, my friends, that’s been well-spent.

Voter Fraud?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the place — but the Art Institute of Chicago is the world’s greatest museum?

From CNN Online

Has the Louvre been closed down? Any and all of the Smithsonian facilities?

Oh, That Little Thing?

I guess we know where the Indy Star stands on that mini-controversy brewing in Liberty, Indiana.

Liberty is the home of Whitewater State Park where a privately-funded memorial to deceased military veterans stands. The memorial, an eight-foot tall, chainsaw-carved eagle perched on a stump also has a white cross at its base. A couple of humanist groups are making noises about suing the state for displaying a religious symbol. The Center for Inquiry and the Freedom from Religion Foundation both have sent letters to Gov. Mike Pence, objecting to the cross.

Even though private citizens and veterans groups paid for the sculpture, the fact that it stands on public grounds strikes certain folk as a subtle endorsement of the cross religion by the state. The Guv, meanwhile, has harrumphed, “The freedom of religion does not require freedom from religion.”

In an example of how everybody from corporate media types to lowly, humble bloggers can color an argument with subtle wordage, the Indy Star this morning headlined its online piece on the controversy thusly:

Tiny Indiana cross draws lawsuit threat from 2nd secular group

Indy Star 20140917

The cross, see, is tiny. Hardly worth getting all het up over. The implication, natch, is that these “secularists” are nit-picky pains in the ass.

And you know what? The Indy Star is right. Humanists (or, if you prefer, secularists) are indeed nit-picky pains in the ass. If you believe, as I do, in an inviolate wall between church and state, then any cross or Star of David or the star and crescent, no matter how big or small, is an affront when it’s on public property.

Here’s my humanist line: You’re free to worship anybody or anything you’d like. Only don’t expect me to pay for it through my tax dollars. And don’t go erecting even 14-inch tall crosses in my state park, especially when it’s doubtful you’d ever — ever — erect a plaque bearing the Takbīr there.

Hot Air

Refreshed

So, yeah, I’ve taken the last few days off. Loyal Pencillistas have been wandering the streets in a daze, wondering what’s important in the world.

I needed a little time off because, frankly, I was tired of hearing my own voice. After nearly a week of sweet, sweet silence emanating from my normally clackety-clack keyboard, Pencillistas need fret no more; I’m back.

No. 1 No More

Dr. Ben Carson, who thinks this holy land is more than perfect except for all those Democrats and liberals running around in it, has occupied the No. 1 goddamned spot on the best selling hardcover nonfiction list the last few weeks. That is, at least according the New York York Times.

Only in the coming week will Carson be supplanted at the top of the list, by the guy who founded the XKCD website, Randall Munroe. The new No. 1 is Munroe’s What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. (We in the book selling racket get advance peeks at the list.)

Speaking of absurd, let’s ponder the former No. 1 placeholder.

Book Cover

Ben Carson, as you may or may not know, is a rah-rah speaker for the Right and is being touted in some quarters as a potential candidate for President in 2016.

He’s one of those guys who look out their front door and say “Everything looks great in my neighborhood,” and then conclude anybody who’s complaining about their lot either hates America or is a bum.

Carson was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was a brilliant brain slicer (he retired in 2013) but he’s a tad ill-informed in certain other areas. For instance, he’s fairly certain Barack Obama is both a communist and a Nazi, he thinks America would have turned into Cuba were it not for Fox News and conservative talk radio, and he speaks loudly and forcefully about evolution despite not knowing much about it.

Here are a few Carson nuggets on evolution:

◆ [C]arbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time. (Right Wing Watch)

◆ (People who believe in evolution) might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from, (as opposed to) “Those of us who believe in God and derive our sense of right and wrong and ethics from God’s word” (and who) “have no difficulty whatsoever defining where our ethics come from.” (Media Matters for America)

◆ I certainly believe in the biblical account of creation…. I believe that God is all powerful. He can do anything. So, if he can create a man who was fully mature, he can also create an Earth that is fully mature. (Faith & Liberty)

He also buys into the idea the Christians are a persecuted class in America. He says of his fellow religionists: “They’ve been bludgeoned into silence.”

And that, babies, is one of the bestselling nonfiction author in America.

The Beat Goes On

NFL players, of course, make their living assaulting and battering each other for the joy and pleasure of tens of thousands in the stands and tens of millions sitting before their flat screens.

It follows, then, that many NFL players employ their brutal talents in the areas of give and take with their true loves as well as the disciplining of their small children.

Houston PD

Adrian Peterson Allegedly “Switched” His 4-Year-Old Son

The scarring of one’s child still is considered acceptable in some quarters of this holy land. Many citizens have commented on the interwebs that it’s a damned shame a fellow cannot even spank his child anymore without being hauled in for fingerprints and a portrait. Now, I was never made aware that “spanking” necessarily resulted in abrasions, contusions, and blood, but what do I know? I have no children. (You’re welcome.)

I always figured the drawing of blood was the red line, as it were, that separated good, clean, wholesome child-beating from sadism. A parent, I learned a ways back when, had a responsibility to belt the bejesus out of his or her kid now and again, if only to keep in practice. Marks, blood splatters, or any other identifiable evidence of conscientious brutality were frowned upon.

Still, Minnesota Vikings star running back has garnered a degree of support from the free swingers of America.

Similarly, some have expressed support for Ray Rice. The erstwhile Baltimore Ravens star running clocked his beloved fiancé with such gusto last winter that he was compelled to drag her inert body out of the elevator in which he delivered the KO. One commentator of note who has not joined the tsk-ing chorus is Rush Limbaugh; in fact, Limbaugh decried the “feminizing” of our holy war AKA football after Rice was fired for allowing his roundhouse to be recorded.

That’s no surprise. What was shocking this past Sunday afternoon, however, was the presence of numerous females at the Baltimore Ravens game actually wearing Ray Rice jerseys.

Ravens Fan

Supporting The Ravens, The USA, And Domestic Violence

I’ll listen to arguments that the psychology of the victim of spousal abuse is so fercockt that one can’t expect her to easily exit her situation. No argument on this good Earth, though, can convince me that any female — nor, for that matter, any male — has a justification for wearing a Ray Rice jersey. It is, de facto, an asshole move.

As if all that’s not hive-inducing enough, word came this weekend that San Francisco 49ers radio announcer Ted Robinson was suspended for two games for criticizing Janay Rice. Robinson came down on her for not speaking up about the pounding she received from her then-fiancé as well as her subsequent decision to marry the man who separated her, admittedly temporarily, from consciousness. “That, to me. is the saddest part of it,” Robinson said on air a week ago yesterday.

Given that piling on Janay Rice is viewed as a personal foul by scads of folks in this USA, it still must be conceded that whatever Robinson said did not and could not harm her as much as Ray Rice’s fist that February night. Nevertheless, Robinson’s two-game jugging is precisely the penalty initially assessed against Rice when his battering of Janay became known six mos. ago. (Keep in mind it wasn’t until the NFL’s brand was sullied by the release of the video of the incident that Rice was given the axe. Punching the lights out of your beloved is nothing compared to harming the league’s image.)

So, acc’d’g to the NFL, Robinson is as big a creep as Ray Rice.

Wow.

If this puzzles you, let me explain. The powers that be in this great nation have little or no interest in improving the lot of any oppressed or persecuted minority. Any concessions to labor, blacks, Jews, Central American asylum seekers, battered women, Muslims, females in the workplace, or anyone else not endowed by god with power, privilege, a penis, and pale skin either have or will be made unwillingly and only after wrenching struggle. That, kiddies, is America.

What the Big Boys have given to the weak and wretched is control over language. So, if some slug on the assembly lines lets the N-bomb slip through his lips, he can expect to be punished within an inch of his professional life. But when corporate boardroom hoodlums make decisions to stymie the advance of any minority, well, by golly, how dare you want to interfere with their free market rights to run their outfits as they see fit?

Ray Rice knocked Janay Rice into brain trauma land. Ted Robinson said some words that may be offensive to someone, somewhere. To the NFL that’s as bad — correction, worse — than what Rice did.

And the NFL wants women to be happy about it.

Hot Air

Money & Music

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), acc’d’g to sources, has discovered that Chateau Thomas hasn’t been paying licensing fees for music played by the winery’s performers at its three locations. ASCAP and its clone-y org., BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), collect musical licensing fees and distribute the swag to the creative souls who wrote them. Sounds fair, right?

Chateau Thomas

It isn’t. If it only were a matter of songwriters getting their fair share of the dough people make singing their ditties, that would be cool. But the people ASCAP and BMI primarily rep are the big-assed impresarios and corporations that own the rights to said songs. And never forget that the big-assed outfits (pun intended) employed every conceivable method, legit and otherwise, to corner the music market, not always to the benefit of musicians. Wait, let me amend that; rarely to their benefit.

As a result of ASCAP’s detective work, Chat. Tom. apparently has canceled its schedule of upcoming live performances. The fees ASCAP is demanding, it seems, are too much for the winery to bear.

It’s not that Chat. Tom. is particularly nefarious in this little dust-up. Dozens of Bloomington businesses that cater to the public play recorded music — CDs and mp3 cuts — for which they neglect to pay rights fees to BMI. The idea being Nicki Minaj, for example, slaved over her notepad, pencil in hand, creating these eternally beloved lyrics:

You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe [x3]
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe (you stupid, stupid)

[From Stupid Hoe, written by Nicki Minaj and Tina Dunham, produced by DJ Diamond Kuts and Pink Friday Productions, released by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Universal Republic Records.]

and so deserves a pct. of every dollar anybody makes playing her music.

Technically, when the UkeTones play Stairway to Heaven either they or the venue at which they perform the opus must kick a piece of the evening’s take to ASCAP. And should the UTs record the classic (a million-seller if I’ve ever heard of one) not only would they have to pay an upfront rights fee, but any public business that played the CD would have to pay its share. Imagine how much more wealthy the already-loaded Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would become in such an eventuality.

UkeTones

The UkeTones

Now, on the other side of the coin, Krista Detor might say Hey, if you play Red Velvet Box at NYC’s Carnegie Hall, you’d better fork over my share of that gate. Detor owns the rights to her music so she’d benefit. Then again, it’s doubtful Hugh and Vusi Masekela will be playing that particular piece at their Hall gig, October 10th. (Although I don’t see why not.)

Chat. Tom.’s Music on the Veranda Series and Singer/Songwriter Series, for instance, last weekend offered diverse acts including Mojo Gumbo, Gary Applegate, Rose Perry, the Foster Jones band, and Two for the Show.

This coming weekend? No such luck.

[Head over to Jeff Foster's FB page for some very informative takes on artists and their licensing fees.]

13 Years

I’d just started seeing The Loved One when 9/11 happened. That’s why I have no particularly warm and fuzzy memories of our early days as a couple.  The days seemed oppressive and glum in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Even the music I was listening to at the time still seems fraught with dread and fright and so I can’t listen to those discs to this day. One in particular, the Ivy disc Long Distance, was about to become one of my mainstays. I listened to it a couple of times a day back then, having bought it, IIRC, on September 7th, Friday. Since then, no. In fact, I may have given it away.

I didn’t throw TLC away, though, nor she me and that was good. We met in Winnemac Park, across Foster Avenue from her house, in the early afternoon on that ironically crisp and clear and gorgeous day, just to console ourselves. Chicago’s downtown had been evacuated and so she was home from work. I recall noticing a squadron of Air Force fighters passing high overhead, circling the city just in case. We held hands and didn’t say much to each other. It was enough to feel the warmth of another human being’s hand.

USAF Fighter

Over Chicago

The next day, I bought one of those plastic American flags with suction cups so you could attach it to your windshield. I put it on my motorcycle’s faring. I’m not a flag guy, never have been. But I felt as though I ought to join the crowd just this once. Believe me, I know what bastards we are to much of the rest of the world but I truly believed the terrorists who attacked us came from a culture of hatred and death. Yeah, our oil policies have screwed the majority of the world but I never quite bought the terrorists’ argument that they were lashing out at us because of that.

Anyway, just as soon as the invasion of Afghanistan was announced I took the flag off my bike. It’s one thing to show solidarity with my countrypeople  when we’re under attack. It’s quite another to stay all jingoistic when our unsurpassed military is mowing the enemy down like blades of grass. Besides, Gen. Tommy Franks didn’t need any help from the likes of me.

Franks

Tommy Franks Didn’t Need Me

Everybody, it seemed in the days after the strike, felt we’d be attacked again sooner rather than later. I don’t know precisely why but I was sure the attacks were a one-off thing. It was known almost immediately that maybe a couple of dozen guys had pulled the operation off. They’d slipped through whatever security precautions the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA had set up at the time. They’d picked a time and a spot where we were most vulnerable. And they had great good luck on their side. None of those conditions would be extant again for a good long time, I felt.

That’s why I figured it was foolish to invade Afghanistan, especially since the Taliban had expressed its condolences and was cooperating with the US in attempting to seize and extradite Osama bin Laden. But all those neo-conservatives who surround George W. Bush and who wanted to remake the Middle East saw their own singular, perfect opportunity to do some map redrawing.

And then, after toppling the Taliban, we decided to forget about bin Laden and gobble up another chunk of that corner of the world, Iraq.

bin Laden

Aw, Forget About Him

Today, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is safe or stable. We’ve spent trillions of dollars, lost thousands of our own warriors, wasted several hundred thousand Afghans and Iraqis, and both countries remain as much — or more — of a pain in our collective ass as they were before 9/11.

No wonder I had such a sense of foreboding in the days after the attacks.

Hot Air

This Must Stop

When do we stop treating grown women like children?

When do we stop making excuses for adults who make blatantly self-destructive decisions?

When do we stop men from beating up women?

All the above questions are tied together and only when we answer them — unemotionally, tactically, and strategically — will we make progress against the warthogs who slug people, specifically the women they purport to “love,”  into unconsciousness?

The general consensus is we should tread lightly upon the feelings of Janay Rice, the victim of a videotaped assault and battery in an elevator last February that left her unconscious and caused her fiancé to drag her like a sack of trash to their hotel room where who knows what ensued.

Rices

Newlyweds

Janay Rice has married that man in the intervening seven months. She told the world yesterday that she and Ray Rice share a special love, one that mean people are trying to destroy. Their method of destruction? Raising Cain about the beating and dragging incident that so far has earned Ray Rice a wink-and-a-nod plea deal wherein he must attend some kind of counseling sessions while avoiding jail time.

Janay Rice owes the girls and young women of this holy land a better course of action and narrative. There is only one proper and fitting reaction to Ray Rice’s assault upon her: that is criminal prosecution and Janay Rice’s firm commitment never to allow him within a thousand feet of her for the rest of their lives.

To wax poetic about their special love only ensures that more young women will be punched into a transient brain trauma — and worse.

Some say Janay Rice has suffered enough. She, apparently, does not share that opinion because she’s remaining intimate with the uncharged criminal who battered her.

Janay Rice doesn’t love herself enough, others say. To which I’d add she doesn’t give the slightest shit about the millions of females at risk of suffering a similar fate.

By staying with Ray Rice, by marrying him, by extolling their special love, she’s telling those millions of females that the crime he committed upon her is a blip, a hiccup, a silly little mistake, the kind we all must endure in the strange, confusing process of coupling. That, too, is a kind of crime.

Janay Rice didn’t ask for all this but reality has a fascist streak; it imposes upon us roles we have no desire to play. Reality jackbooted her that February night in the casino/hotel elevator. She no longer has a choice about being a spokeswoman for violent abuse. The incident became notorious solely because Ray Rice is good at running around with a football. Millions of impressionable young females are watching Janay Rice, taking cues from her.  She has told them that the ugly violence Ray Rice visited upon her not only is forgivable, it’s excusable, understandable, and even, she has implied, partially her fault.

I want Ray Rice to spend a good long time in jail. I want Janay Rice to stand up for herself and for countless girls and women.

And I’m tired of excuses. We all should be.

Hot Air

Cool

How do like sleeping with the windows open all night long these days?

Now we come into fall, perhaps the prettiest, most comfortable season of the year. Natch, I didn’t always feel this way. For the longest time, well into my adulthood, I dreaded the coming of September and October — that meant it was time for another school year. For an inveterate school-hater like me, the fall was a jail sentence.

Schoolroom

How Did I Survive This?

Anyway, the cool is fine by me at this advanced stage of my life. So cool was it yesterday AM that I spied one woman walking east on Kirkwood Avenue wearing a heavy fall coat and a scarf wrapped around her neck.

No, let me amend that — it wasn’t that cool yesterday morning. Politics, apparently, isn’t the only thing that causes people to overreact.

Patriot Games?

One of Bloomington’s most respected and beloved citizens has told me she was informed by her bank that the institution no longer wants her business.

Which seems odd, considering the fact that all sorts of reprobates and sociopaths are welcome to deposit their questionably-earned gains in banks from sea to shining sea. You may recall it took a federal statute to force banks to look into enormous deposits of cash. You know, the kinds of deposits drug kingpins make.

Cash

Another Day, Another….

In fact, it was only this past winter when JP Morgan Chase began asking people who wanted to make huge deposits for ID to make sure they were indeed account holders. JPM was forced to institute the new rule in the fallout from the Bernie Madoff affair. Spokesbeings for the bank said the rule was intended to weed out money launderers.

Nice of them. Of course, it took a US Justice Dept. investigation to get the Chase banksters to become such concerned citizens.

In any case, the Bloomington woman was phoned one recent morning by a rep from her __________ branch. She was told, after some hemming and hawing, “Your business is no longer welcome at __________.”

The woman says she’s been a customer of the same bank for at least 10 years. The bank was taken over first by another financial outfit and then by __________. The way the woman sees it, she should be considered a __________ customer for all those ten-plus years.

When the woman asked why __________ was doing this, she was told the Patriot Act was to blame. Or, at least, __________’s interpretation of same. The woman adds that all the __________ reps she spoke with (several people took the phone during the call in question) were “extremely apologetic.”

Bush Signing

George Bush Gleefully Signs The Patriot Act

Nevertheless, the woman was highly offended. One rep explained to her that because she was closely related to someone who “works for a foreign government” the bank could not longer do business with her under its own guidelines. The woman and her relative were natural-born citizens of a Middle Eastern nation. The woman has since become a naturalized American. “I’m not an Arab-American,” she says. “I’m an American.”

She may be an American, but she’s no longer a  __________ customer.

[MG note: I will not identify the woman or the bank until I hear back from the bank.]

This Bloomington woman’s story comes at a time when Arab-Americans across this holy land are being given the bum’s rush by their banks. At least she got something of an answer when she asked why. Acc’d’g to a story in the LA Times, most Arab-Americans being told their accounts are being closed are given no reason at all.

I’ll continue digging into this story. Stay tuned.

Black Eye

You wanna get even madder?

Okay. The National Football League didn’t give former Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice a lengthy suspension for punching his then-fiancé into unconsciousness until after video of the incident was uncovered by the gossip site TMZ.

[I'm not going to provide a link to the TMZ story because I don't believe disseminating the video serves any purpose other than to hurt the victim again.]

NFL czar Roger Goodell had suspended Rice for two games after the incident first was reported. The video was revealed the other day. Suddenly, Rice’s two-gamer has become an indefinite lay-off.

Rice

This Man Punched His Fiancé Into Unconsciousness

In other words, it’s sorta bad for an NFL player to punch the shit out of his beloved. It’s super bad if the act is caught on video.

Rice, BTW, has been fired by the Baltimore Ravens. Again, the team took no action against him even after he made a plea agreement with prosecutors over the incident. The Ravens acted only when they were embarrassed by the video.

More BTW: Let’s talk punches. It takes a monster blow to induce unconsciousness, despite what you think you’ve learned watching the movies or TV. Unconsciousness resulting from a blow generally occurs when the brain stem or the spinal cord near it are twisted or impacted. Such twisting occurs when the puncher delivers a roundhouse, forcing the recipient’s head to turn violently and suddenly. The impact trauma can occur when the inion, a small projection at the base of the rear of the skull, collides with the spinal cord, again due to a blow that causes sudden head rotation.

This is why boxers are taught to grit their teeth when they’re punched and why they work so hard to develop strong neck muscles. The idea is to resist the rotational forces of the cross punch.

So, Ray Rice didn’t merely jab at his fiancé’s face when he struck her in that casino elevator last February. He swung a roundhouse. He wanted to cause damage to her. He belongs in prison.

As for his then-fiancé — she is now married to him. She belongs on a psychiatrist’s couch.

Roger Goodell and the top officials of the Baltimore Ravens? They belong in hell.

Union, Yes

WFIU is reporting that Bloomingfoods employees are considering unionizing.

Bloomingfoods

All I can say is, Yay!

Hot Air

Why PMS?

Should The Loved One ever come to her senses and throw me out of our happy home, I might take consolation in the fact that I then could be available to woo the redoubtable and comely Rebecca Watson.

Watson

Rebecca Watson

She’s the biggest shot among the new generation of big shot female skeptic/scientists. Meaning, she and her cohorts stand on their heads to bring the facts about ghosts, quack medicine, alien flying saucers, anti-vaccination hysteria, fad foodism, and the like to a blithely gullible public. She started what is now the must-read Skepchick blog back in 2005 for the express purpose, as she put it, of “promoting skepticism and critical thinking among women around the world.”

She describes herself thusly: “I’m a writer, performer, feminist, atheist, skeptic. Not necessarily in that order.”

My kind of dame.

Watson’s got a YouTube channel as well as a Patreon page, on which she opines, sermonizes, teaches, and tsks approximately twice a week. Her latest vid tackles a recent news media flurry about some researcher’s suggestion that women get PMS because it’s evolutionarily advantageous. As in, when your co-worker snaps at you every 28 days for your innocent habit of cracking your gum, it’s only because Natural Selection has turned her into a monthly gargoyle just so’s she can weed out substandard potential mates.

Weird, huh?

See, acc’d’g to the researcher, an Australian named Michael Gillings, only manly men of the stoutest character would hazard a lifetime of woe with hyper-PMS-y women, whereas pantywaists and milquetoasts would shrink away in unmanly diffidence. It all sounds rather romance novelish, and in truth it prob. indeed is fiction. There’s next to no evidence that Gillings’ hypothesis is true.

Nevertheless, news outlets like the Huffington Post and a pile of papers in Australia gave Gillings’ ramblings the attention they so richly do not deserve. Natch, Rebecca Watson’s take on the affair is entitled, “PMS and the Science of Making Shit Up.”

It’s a swell primer on how to read science reports in the media with a critical eye. Check it out:

Science Goes Woo!

Speaking of science, have you caught this? Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have found evidence that two people, separated by 5000 miles, can directly influence each other’s thoughts — as long as they’re hooked up to each other though scalp electrodes, a few high tech machines, and the internet.

Wow! Or should I say Woo!

Grau, Ginhoux, Riera, Nguyen, Chauvat, et al.

Binary Code Messaging Across 5000 Miles

The whole business is called EEG-based brain-computer interaction (BCI). Researchers for years have been toying with individuals connected to computers and have successfully demonstrated that, using a similar wire-up, a person can think into a computer. That is, the test subject is given a message, s/he thinks about it, and that thought is then communicated to the computer. Sheesh! The ghosts of Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Arthur C. Clark have got to be stirring.

Now, though, the Beth Israel mad scientists have replaced the computer on one end with another human. According to a recently released paper, the experiment worked. So this whole apparent science fiction story isn’t woo at all.

In this case. one guy in India was fed a message, translated into binary code. He thought about it while hooked up to the EEG/electronic translator/internet apparatus and — voila! — the message appeared in the peripheral vision of the guy hooked up to the other end of the apparatus in France.

At this point Stephen King joined the aforementioned dead scifi authors in a circle dance.

You have to read about this experiment. It’s all further proof that you don’t need to be suckered into believing in chemtrails, e-meters, homeopathy, reiki, and other voodoo pseudosciences if you want to be blown away by nature. In fact, we take the seemingly miraculous — but demonstrably true — for granted these days. Witness Louis CK’s riff on air travel:

No And No

A fellow named Jari Nation from Movoto contacted this communications colossus to tell me about the relo website’s recent “10 Bloomington Stereotypes that Are Completely Accurate” post. I suppose he wants me to help spread the word about the post so at first I thought, Hey, baby, you want me to flack for you, pay me!

Then I remembered people went all Facebook gaga over this list a little while ago so it’s doubtful any loyal Pencillistas don’t know it exists. Ergo, this won’t be flacking.

Although, if Jari wants to cut me a check, I’d be thrilled to cash it.

Anyway, I’ll take issue with two of Movoto’s “completely accurate” assertions:

  • No. 10) “Bloomingtonians Are Crazy Proud of Being Hoosiers” — If this means we dig being citizens of the great state o’Indiana, well, no. The next person from Bloomington I meet who’s happy to call IN her or his home state will be the first. In fact, I’d guess no one on this good Earth loathes Indiana more than (as Movoto so awkwardly puts it) a Bloomingtonian. In double fact, Movoto pre-contradicts itself with item No. 3: “Don’t You Dare Group Them in with the Rest of Indiana.”

Giordano's Pizza

No Caption Necessary

  • No. 7) “Bloomingtonians Are Real Pizza Connoisseurs” — Um, no again. People here eat pizza. This town has a number of different pizza options. Pizzas places even deliver here, as they do in the rest of the civilized world. But Bloomington pizza is to real pizza as Chef Boyardee® from the can is to a homemade mostaccioli dinner. The entry lists, for example, Cafe Pizzaria which, I’m sure, is run by nice people and is an institution here but they don’t even know how to spell pizzeria, for pity’s sake. Don’t start with me; I know pizza. My mother made it. I make it. From scratch. I grew up eating all sorts of pizzeria pizzas in my beloved hometown, from Salerno’s in Little Italy to Ricobene’s on 26th Street. I am to pizza as Albert Einstein is to special relativity. Although I haven’t tried Trailhead‘s pizza yet and I’m told it’s good. We’ll see.

Personal to Jari: As The Dude once said, “By the way, do you think that you could give me that $20,000 in cash? My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax….” Aw, forget it.

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