Category Archives: Lady Gaga

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

CAIRO CREEPS

The world’s citizenry has plenty of reasons to be mad at the US.

In my lifetime alone there’ve been Vietnam, the Shah, the Contras, a couple of senseless wars with Iraq, and Lady Gaga.

Down With The USA!

That’s enough to make anyone hurl a shoe at the Secretary of State’s motorcade.

Which is what a gang of Egyptians did yesterday when Hillary Clinton passed through Cairo. They threw tomatoes at her entourage as well.

Apparently, the protesters were hot because this holy land allegedly has taken sides in their presidential election charade. I wouldn’t doubt that we are, considering the US puts its big nose into everybody’s business. That’s what empires do.

But the protesters also shouted “Monica, Monica, Monica” at Hillary’s limo.

You remember Monica Lewinsky, the most famous fellator in human history, don’t you? Also, in case you’ve forgotten, she was a walking humidor.

Quite A Bouquet

Anyway, I’d lay off the sexual references if I were the Egyptians. They didn’t exactly comport themselves well with women in the streets when they were in the process of overthrowing their tyrant leader, Hosni Mubarek.

An effort, by the way, the United States supported.

In fact, just the other week a crowd of Egyptians sexually assaulted a female British journalist covering the celebration for newly elected prez Mohammed Morsi.

THUMBS DOWN

Some observers of the Penn State University situation have said the NCAA has no authority over the institution in criminal matters not related to athletics.

Their “logic” goes that Jerry Sandusky’s sex life with children and Joe Paterno’s winking consent of same are not violations of the rules of the sacred game of football. Nor did they give Penn State an edge over its rivals in the playing of games.

The Little Girl Wisely Leans Away From The Nittany Lion

Maybe. Of course, if the NCAA’s lawyers find this to be true then we can only hope the National Collegiate Athletic Association shuts down its offices and goes out of business forever.

Me? I’m all for the NCAA giving Penn State the death penalty. Shutting down its football program for one or two years just might remind people in Happy Valley as well as in college towns around the nation that big time sports is not the reason universities exist.

COOL

Scientists have developed a device that can allow people to use their computers simply by moving their eyes.

This will be a miraculous boon to quadriplegics and amputees, among others.

The device, called GT3D, reads the user’s eyeball movements and translates that information into instructions to move a screen cursor. Users can play games, write emails, and do most of the things people with two usable hands can.

Click on the image below to see the video of a guy playing Pong with his eyes. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the vid.

The technology may one day be extended to wheelchair users. The device would be able to read the chair-bound user’s eye movements and cause the chair to proceed accordingly.

Some two decades ago I predicted that within fifty years we’d have implantable personal video and audio recording devices. Those of us who could afford it would have micro-devices surgically placed in our eyes.

Imagine how that would affect the criminal justice system.

Science, my friends, is cool.

SCIENCE CHICK

The above story reminds me of a woman I met last week at the Book Corner. Her name is Sarah and she was stocking up on science-y books for summer reading.

That’s right — rather than lull herself into a trance by reading, say, “50 Shades of Grey” or “A Stolen Life,” she opted to spend her time on good stuff like “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer and “The Mind’s Eye” by Oliver Sacks.

This Just In: Girls Have Minds, Too

I got to chatting with Sarah and she revealed she is here in Bloomington working on her doctorate in chemistry.

She admitted there aren’t many other women in her chosen field. She said she fell in love with chemistry thanks to an inspiring high school chemistry teacher, who happened to be a man.

Sarah was funny, extremely sociable, and curious about many things. And, again, she’ll soon have a PhD in one of the hard sciences.

The only downer is there are so few young women like Sarah running around the Great United States, Inc. these days.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monroe County Public Library“It’s Your Money: Flapjacks & Greenbacks,” Learn to make pancake mix from scratch and other tips to save money; 7pm

Make Your Own

Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, hosted by Marta Jasicki, variety show, ten acts, ten minutes each; 7pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Chamber music students college audition; 8pm

The BishopMurals, The Natives, Chandelier Ballroom; 9pm

The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, room 107 — Free ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm

The BluebirdDave Walters karaoke; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway

Scary? Scary How?

Just a tidbit from Bill Maher’s latest spew:

“If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he already would have done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Chaney over to The Hague. Here’s what Obama actually did: he cut taxes and spending…, he didn’t go on a spending spree, he didn’t break up the ‘too big to fail’ banks — they’ve only gotten bigger and fail-y-er. That’s not what liberals wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted…. [U]nder Obama, there’s more drilling than ever. That’s not what environmentalists wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted. Obama spent most of last year conceding the Republican premise that government needed cutting. That’s not what progressives wanted; that’s what the Tea Party wanted. The Dow was at 7949 when he took office, now it’s at 12,000 and over. Corporates profits are at their highest ever. If he’s a socialist, he’s a lousy one. He could not be less threatening if he was walking home with iced tea and Skittles.”

I DUNNO. WHADDA YOU WANNA DO?

Don’t do a single thing today until you visit the Pencil’s GO! Events Listings.

SLEEPLESS IN SUCCESSVILLE

I am a world champion napper. Napping is one of humankind’s finest pursuits. A day spent without a nap is a day wasted.

I’ve been partial to naps ever since I emerged from the womb and yawned.

Imagine how thrilled I was when my cardiologist told me that due to my congenitally malformed heart, I ought to take a nap whenever I feel the need for one. (Almost as giddy as when he told me drinking a glass of wine and eating a piece of chocolate a day would be of great benefit to me — I nearly kissed him.)

Now, I love working at the Book Corner save for one terrible drawback — Margaret, the owner of the place, won’t let me take a nap while I’m on the clock. The tyrant.

Apparently, much of the world seems to be able to get by without naps. Poor souls.

And, if I can believe what I read, there are those who have energy to burn, who are on the go, go, go, all day long, who can get by with only three or four hours of sleep in a night.

Crazy, no?

Do I Have To Do This?

Bill Clinton is one of those people. I suppose any number of presidents and aspirants to that sleepless office have less than the average bear’s need for slumber.

I’ve met dozens of people who are great successes in business and entertainment, many of whom view sleeping at night as a kind of annoyance. They can’t get anything done when they’re asleep, they complain. They’re aghast at the idea of taking a nap.

Man.

It seems as though the real hard-chargers in this mixed-up world, people like Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Wozniak, Jamie Dimon and any Mexican drug cartel boss worth his salt rarely go to sleep.

Who Has Time To Sleep?

Maybe that’s the key to their fabulous success. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump and Lady Gaga are who they are. They’re blazing trails while the rest of us are laying on the sofa.

Oh, sure, they have piles of dough. Big deal. I’ve got my naps.

I was thinking about all this yesterday when I went to go see young Dr. Joe Mackey at the Eye Center. I went in for my one-week follow up exam after eye surgery. The verdict: All is well. That’s pretty much all Mackey said to me.

As always, he was in a mad rush.

I’ll bet he’s one of the people who don’t sleep much. The guy darts from room to room like a crystal meth fiend. He once told me that on his day for surgery he performs 14 or so procedures. Sheesh! The other days of the week he’s peering into and jiggering with the eyes of dozens and dozens of people each day.

If I tried to keep up his pace for fifteen minutes I’d have to take a nap. A good long one — 45 minutes, maybe, or an hour.

What An Exhausting Day!

On the bell curve of human sleep needs, he and I occupy the opposite flanges.

Guys like Mackey, big time sports stars, Hollywood actors and actresses, corporate CEOs, big city mayors — all sorts of high achievers seem to be racing every minute of the day. And their days last from before dawn often until after midnight.

Mackey could have elected to live a nice, relaxed lifestyle. He could have opened his own opthalmology practice in some far off locale where he’d see a couple of patients a day. That’s what I would have done. He could do one eye surgery a week. Maybe one every couple of weeks.

Then he could take a nap.

You’re My Third Patient This Month!

But he chose to go to work for a multi-million-dollar eyeball factory. The Eye Center has dozens of employees, its own surgery center in the basement, enough high-tech, high-buck machines to fill a medium-sized warehouse, and most likely a huge debt load. If you work for old man Grossman and his partners, you’d better be ready to hustle from room to room, checking patients out and sending them home, calling for the next one, chop chop, saying only what you need to say, generating revenue.

This, said Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in ” The Godfather Part II,” is the business we’ve chosen.

We talk a lot about doctors needing a comforting bedside manner these days. We need the doc to hold our hands while she tells us to lay off the pie and the french fries. That’s fine for a general practitioner. They have to lay the oil on us if only to get us to open up and tell them about the ache in our knees or the funny mole on our back.

But specialists like Mackey don’t need to cajole information out of us. They’ve got special skills and devices that can tell them a hundred times more about us than we ever could. Then, when it’s time to act, they wield other devices like Jedi knights, they flutter their fingers over our most fragile organs with a deftness that borders on magic.

Has The Patient Been Prepped?

Mackey shined some tiny beacons into my eyes and muttered notes to an assistant who transcribed his impressions at the keyboard. “Terrific,” he said. “Excellent.” “Very good.” “Healing well.” “Vision better than can be expected.”

I felt flattered, as if somehow I had a hand in the whole procedure. “Yeah,” I said, “I feel great. No complaints.”

Dr. Mackey recoiled slightly from his machine, as if he were surprised I was there. And you know what? He probably was.

He’d been commenting on his own handiwork. He’s a borderline magician and he knows it.

Voila — You Can See!

And the truth is, without that confidence, without that arrogance, he wouldn’t be one-tenth as good as he is.

How big does your ego have to be to carve up another person’s eyeball and hope not only that you don’t blind the poor sap but can actually make him see better?

Answer: Huge.

Mackey pulled his diagnostic machine away and wished me a pleasant weekend. And like that he was out the door. He moved so fast I thought there’d be a sonic boom.

Dr. Joe Mackey is of a different breed than I am. Maybe even a different species. But that’s what makes him so spectacularly good.

Me? I’m gonna take a nap.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” — Billy Wilder

PRELUDE TO MASS SUICIDE

Hah! And you thought I was being obsessive by devoting so much of this space to those two execrable professional virgins who sing about Rick Santorum.

All I know is this morning’s TV and radio reports on the victories of god’s candidate in yesterday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries feature snippets of the song. It has now earned the imprimatur of the corporate media.

First Love, my dear friends, has arrived.

“I Know What’s Best For Your Uterus!”

And if, by some sick turn of history, the closeted candidate goes into the Republican convention with a chance to unseat putative front runner Willard Romney, the First Love earworm will become a pandemic.

Lady Gaga will wish she’d thought of penning a ballad extolling a rollback of reproductive rights and drooling over the dyed and addled Ronald Reagan.

[Headslap] “I Coulda Had An Earworm Hit!”

KING OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

Just in case you missed it, Willard won the caucuses in Hawai’i and American Samoa last night. Game On!

“Thank You, My Fellow Samoans!”

THE ILLINOIS GUBERNATORIAL RETIREMENT PLAN

I met Rod Blagojevich the day he started campaigning for a seat in the Illinois House back in 1992.

It was a sunny Monday morning and this earnest-looking guy in a nicely pressed suit and a helmet of hair was handing out flyers in front of the Francisco stop on the Ravenswood el line. I looked at the photo on the flyer and then at the guy and said, “Hey, this is you.”

Vote For Me, I’ll Set You Free

He got a big kick out of that. He flashed a smile that almost blinded me. Lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

He told me why he was the best candidate for the office. He seemed so serious and honest and self-effacing. He made a lot of people think that of him over the years.

He told me he was a neighbor. The Blagojeviches lived a block and a half away from me, on Francisco Avenue. I’d pass his house every time I walked down to the convenience store for a newspaper or an ice cream bar. His bungalow was notable in that it was surrounded by a tall, black metal fence, the kind Mayor Daley had given a sweetheart contract to one of his donor/cronies to surround every park in the city with. I guess Blagojevich figured he ought throw a little business that guy’s way as well.

Rod Blagojevich was nothing if not politically astute.

Well, to a point.

He turned awfully stupid when he was taped by federal prosecutors trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat.

Not Free

Today he goes into the slammer for that and other crimes. He’ll serve about 12 years of his 14-year sentence in a minimum security facility outside Denver.

I needn’t recount all his in-office malfeasances and felonies here. Nor will I list all his embarrassing media exploits since being convicted in his impeachment trial in 2009.

I’ll only point this out; it may be his most despicable crime. In October 2002, Rod Blagojevich was the only Illinois Democrat in the US Congress to vote in favor of the authorization of George Bush’s bullshit Iraq war.

Enjoy your twelve year stay in the federal B&B, Rod baby, you earned it.

FOLSOM PRISON BLUES

Dedicated to my ex-state legislator, ex-congressman, ex-governor, and ex-neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

From the movie, “The Apartment,” by Billy Wilder:

C.C. Baxter: “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”

Fran Kubelik: (smiling) “Shut up and deal!”

TRAPPING THE WORLD IN MY WEB

So, I got some news yesterday morning. Good news. Problem is, I don’t know if I should brag or play it cool.

Aw, you know me. I’ll brag.

According to my WordPress.com Site Stats, The Electron Pencil has been viewed by people in the following countries: the US (natch), Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, India, the UAE, and Australia.

The Mighty Electron Pencil Tower, In My Backyard

This being the Internet, I assume at least some of those hits are accidents, people misinterpreting a category listing for porn, or scammers trying to empty my checking account. Still, that’s 17 countries spread across all six habitable continents.

Cool, huh?

ONE LESS WHOOPING CRANE

Some son of a bitch shot another endangered whooping crane dead recently. The incident was reported Friday to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One of only 500 or so of the rare birds left in the US, the crane was found in the Muscatatuck River basin near Crothersville in Jackson County.

The current population of whooping cranes has increased from an alarming low of 21 in 1941. Of the birds now living in the US, some 70 percent are wild; the rest live in zoos and private sanctuaries.

Some whooping cranes can grow as tall as five feet. They graze in marshes and fields, pecking for small animals, fish, berries, and grain.

Adults are brilliant white with black wingtips and red and black masks. A whooping crane liftoff is a spectacular site.

A Whooping Crane In Flight

Did I mention the guy or guys who killed the crane are sons of bitches?

AIN’T THAT AMERICA?

Here is the defining snapshot of our holy land thus far in the infant year, 2012:

Billionaire big-city boss Michael Bloomberg smooches talent-free superstar Lady Gaga at the Times Square ball-dropping ceremony. Moments like these make me think it’s midnight in America, babies.

ROMNEY’S MATE

Look, Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee for president. He’s that party’s only near-centrist and he’s the savviest politician among the lot of them still in the running.

He’s The One

Remember how he dropped out of the 2008 race even though he was running virtually neck and neck with the eventual nominee, John McCain? Romney’s political instincts told him that the 44th Presidency was going to be defined by nothing so much as the nearly moribund economy.

I mean, Barack Obama’s in hot water only because the fallout from the Great Recession still is raining radioactivity upon us. People blame him for service cutbacks and unemployment even though he inherited from his four predecessors the conditions that caused those ills.

Four years ago, Romney figured, Why should I be the one to take that heat?

Smart choice.

So, when the GOP convenes in Tampa in August, that crafty pol will be the one telling the nation how fabulous things will be with him in the White House.

And Romney will hold up the arm of his running mate. But who will that be?

Mark it, dude, it’s going to be the right winger from our worst nightmares. The GOP’s most energetic base still considers Romney to be Abbie Hoffman with an expensive haircut. He’ll have to throw them the veep of their choice as a bone.

I get this creepy feeling we’re going to be longing for the good old days of Sarah Palin next November.

HELLO 2012

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at Chez Pencil. The Loved One and I stayed in and made some homemade pizza vanish.

We watched a couple of movies that, by happy coincidence, contained New Year’s Eve scenes: Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.”

The Little Fellow Awaits His New Year’s Eve Guests

The years, oddly, seem to be getting shorter. I wonder if calendar makers are cutting back during these tough economic times.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

Retro-junkie and film/vid producer Mike Flores posted a link to this old Bob Hope wisecrack last week.

Funny thing is, Hope could have told the joke exactly the same way except substituting “Republican” for “Democrat” and the other half of the country would have roared and said, “How true!”

We all think we’re brilliantly perceptive and the other side is either stupid or mesmerized.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

This is a gem, a clip from a 1965 documentary on Frank Sinatra. Say what you will about him, he was an artist. This clip, in fact, features three artists: Sinatra, of course; the conductor Gordon Jenkins; and the announcer, Walter Cronkite.

Sinatra in the studio was demanding, mostly of himself. His phrasing and articulation were stunning. His ear was almost inhuman in its sensitivity.

Sportswriters talk about superstars who raise the game of their teammates. That’s what Sinatra did for the other musicians in the studio with him.

Well, we didn’t blow ourselves up in 2011. We’re still here and plugging away, albeit clumsily and often stupidly. In that sense, it was a reasonably good year. Let’s see if we can get another thing or two right in 2012.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Fun is good.” — Theodore Geisel

POLITICAL FAVORS

A certain handsome reporter/blogger/smart ass was walking up Walnut Street in the brilliant sunshine Saturday afternoon. At 6th Street he ran into the Honorable Regina Moore, newly reelected Clerk of the great city of Bloomington.

The reporter revealed to Moore that he is working on a Top 10 Local Political Stories of 2011 piece for the upcoming issue of Peter LoPilato’s Ryder magazine. “Oh, ______,” Moore said, tugging at the reporter’s jacket sleeve, “do me a favor. Put in the piece that I got more votes than Mayor Kruzan.”

Let’s Make A Deal

I won’t reveal the reporter’s name because, in addition to being handsome, he is modest.

Moore continued. “All you have to do is put in a footnote or something. Nothing much. I can’t wait to show it to the Mayor!”

Consider it done, Regina. Um…, I mean, I’ll bet he does it.

POLITICAL ROCK STAR

City Council president Susan Sandberg got a kick out of the Beach Boys vid we ran in these parts Friday.

She revealed in the comments section that as a callow, hotsy-totsy youth, she formed a garage band called The Tsunamis. They played — you guessed it — California surf music.

Bloomington may be fortunate Susan’s band went nowhere as she now leads us boldly into the 21st Century. But alas, the world suffers.

What a chick troika it could have been — Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Susan Sandberg.

Or, The Dem Girls — Regina Moore, Susan Sandberg, & Isabel Piedmont-Smith

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This is a No Spamily, No Brattle zone.

◗ My old East Pilsen neighbor and pal Rachel Thole, now of the Bay Area, links to an Onion newscast that would be freaking hilarious — if it weren’t so uncomfortably close to a serious newscast.

Al Yellon of Chicago was hot on this Saturday night, beating NPR by a day and a half. Seems that there’s a reality show about Muslim families living in the Detroit area. It shows them — get ready for this shocker — as normal, everyday Americans. Well, this just won’t do; this holy land’s Christian Taliban blew a gasket and threatened to condemn the show’s advertisers to hell. As far as I’m concerned, hell is having to live in a world where religious fundamentalists call the cultural shots.

Jan Takehara of — where else? — Chi-town, reminds us of Dion DiMucci, former front man for Dion & the Belmonts and, later, a solo act. Dion recorded a beautiful and touching song after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Abraham, Martin, and John” became a hit in late 1968. It was the first song that ever made me cry. To this day, I still tear up when I hear it.

Hey, Bloomington Facebookers: you’re falling down on the job. Start posting some stuff I can use here, okay?

ANYBODY HERE SEEN MY OLD FRIEND…?

Here’s Dion’s (and Dick Holler’s) homage to King:

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