Category Archives: Louis CK

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let there be work, bread, water, and salt for all.” — Nelson Mandela

SAHARA IN THE HEARTLAND

Your lawn just took a ten count.

Your trees and bushes, too.

The City of Bloomington has instituted a watering ban, beginning Monday and lasting through October 13th.

Pat Murphy’s Utilities Department water plant pumps are running at about a million gallons a day over capacity, upping the odds that one or more of them will burn out. Not only that, some strains of algae have been observed collecting in the pumps, adding to the risk of failure.

Mayor Mark Kruzan says the ban has some teeth after violators get a first warning: second violations earn $100 fines, three-time losers will be smacked with $250 fines and subsequent violations will lighten scofflaws’ wallets to the tune of $500 each.

By the way, don’t even think about washing your car.

Nope

THE THRILL OF VICTORY

Ya gotta love Cynthia Plaster-Caster of Chicago. She’s made her mark upon this world in large part (often, very large part) by reproducing rock stars’ cetrioli in plaster castings.

So, it’s no surprise she’s got a fine eye for bulges. The London Olympics is providing her a treasure trove of manly salutes.

Here, she points out the pride and joy of American rower Henrik Rummel as he receives his bronze medal in the heretofore ignored sport:

Henrik Rummel, Front And Center

Rummel’s isn’t the only full mast in Jolly Old this week. Plaster-Caster also spied Portugal’s Nelson Évora, gold medalist in the triple jump, packing heat.

Nelson Évora, Ready To Go

If these pix indicate how fab the whole Olympics experience is, it’s no wonder kids work night and day for years trying to get there.

SHE DOESN’T GET IT

Camilo Gonzalez of Chicago points out that Olympian LoLo Jones is bragging that she’s a virgin.

Jones, the American track and field celebrity, is a flamboyant product endorser. Apparently, one of those products is her heretofore-unseen-by-other-human-eyes genitalia.

She feels the world needs to know how untouched her stuff is so she has tweeted about it.

Oddly, she sometimes adopts seductive poses in her ads. She’s the spokesbody for crap products like Red Bull and planet-rapists like BP

Professional Virgin

Jere Longman wrote Saturday in the New York Times: “… Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — virgin, vixen, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.”

Natch, right wingers and religious fetishists think she’s the greatest thing since the cast stone.

Gonzalez, though, doesn’t think much of it. He writes: “[B]eing a virgin at 30 is weird and pathological. Sexual development is an important part of becoming a grown-ass human being…. We don’t fawn over toddlers who refuse to be potty trained, yet we have respect and some have admiration for someone who is similarly infantile.”

If you’ve heard her on any talk shows, you know there’s more than one organ she refrains from using. Jones appeared on the Tonight Show about a month ago and clearly has a child’s brain as well as a child’s vagina.

Fortunately, Louis CK sat on the couch next to her as she bleated to Jay Leno. Jones has hinted she’d like to date fellow god-maniac Tim Tebow. Louis CK suggested the two should make a video. “That would sell,” he said. He didn’t need to explicate precisely what kind of video it would be.

LIKE A VIRGIN

As if she needs me pimping for her, here’s Madonna.

Better yet, here’s Weird Al Yankovic.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

I Love Charts: From PhD Comics

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

I Fucking Love Science

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

B-Line TrailBloomington Community Band 5K Musical Fun Run/Walk; 7:30am

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Don Ford; 6-8:30pm

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterWorkshop: Buddhism in Everyday Life with Ani Choekye; 6:30pm

Monroe County Public LibraryVolunteer call for Bloomington bike rack inventory; 6:30-8:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival, audience vote for funniest person in town; 8pm

The BluebirdMain Squeeze; 9pm

The BishopStagnant Pools, Mike Adams at His Honest Weight, Kam Kama; 9:30pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic viewing through the main telescope; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ 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:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

◗ 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 CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

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’d like to say I was smart enough to finish six grades in five years, but I think perhaps the teacher was just glad to get rid of me.” — Alan Shepard

TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE

Let’s talk teachers today.

A report on WFIU local news this morning mentioned the Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation program to replace text books with iPads. The RBBSC is buying a thousand of the devices for use by students over the next three years.

Now, this seems to be a fairly good idea. It’s good for the environment. It’s good for the kids’ backs. It’s good because kids are growing up in a world wherein books are goofy things that old people waste their time with while iPads are what every cool person has.

This Used To Be Yellowwood State Forest

So far, so good.

The report, though, mentioned that teachers now will be just a click away. Should a kid need to know, for instance, how many pages the essay on the Civil War that’s due tomorrow morning has to be, all she has to do is email the teacher and she’ll have her answer within moments.

Sounds good, no?

No.

It stinks for the teachers.

No matter how dedicated a teacher is, no matter how much she loves her job and her students (although god knows why), she needs some time away from them all.

Mother Teresa Would Belt These Kids

And, trust me, the minute kids realize the teacher is a touch of the send button away, they’ll be harassing the poor soul from morning until night.

See, this thing reeks of the current workplace zeitgeist that holds that as an employee of the corporation, you are now owned lock, stock and barrel by it. Every desk jockey in this holy land is now tethered to American Widgets, Inc. 24 hours a day via SmartPhone and Droid and all the rest.

You Are Ours

Anyone who isn’t at the constant beck and call of management and coworkers is not getting ahead. Not only that, those recalcitrant fools risk being axed forthwith.

When pagers became widespread in the 70s and cell phones started coming on the scene in the 90s, advertisements for them often featured the likes of heart surgeons extolling the virtues of whatever device was being peddled. The idea was, If it weren’t for this cell phone, my patient would have died horribly and with great suffering.

Now the pager and cell phone peddlers knew they couldn’t survive solely by marketing their toys to heart surgeons but they were banking on the rest of us watching their commercials and thinking, Man, I want to be super-cool and indispensable just like that doctor.

Next thing you knew, office supply salespeople and fast food restaurant managers were wearing pagers and, later, cell phones in clip cases on their belts.

This Person Never Wants To Have Sex Again

The sane among us considered them geeks but as the years slipped by, more and more of us became geeks. And by extension, fewer of us remained sane.

Now, of course, anybody who doesn’t have a cell phone with texting and Internet capabilities is, for all intents and purposes, a nut.

Call me a nut.

I subscribe to the Louis CK philosophy of gadgets: Just because a technology has been invented doesn’t mean you have to use it.

But the sacred corporation has embraced these technologies with all the fervor of born agains. There’s no better way to keep tabs on your wage slaves. You like your $65,000 a year gig? You’ll give yourself over to us like a high school dropout in love for the first time.

Nobody asked me, but if the Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation wanted my vote, I’d say leave the poor teachers alone for a few hours a day, wouldja?

LET’S GO OUT

Click.

TEACHERS ARE HUMAN

Now let’s look at the other side of the teachers’ coin.

This pic has been circulating in the Facebook universe lately:

In case you’re having a hard time reading the note, it begins: “I am a teacher. You are able to read, write, do arithmetic and much more because of people like me.”

It’s part of that whole I-Am-the-99% thing wherein the downtrodden of this holy land speak plainly and plaintively about how greed capitalism is crushing them. And generally I agree with every word they write.

But this one bugged me.

Yes, I’m all for teachers. And yes, the right wing, god-fearing, anti-intellectual gang that runs things these days would like nothing better than to break teachers unions, slash funding for schools to the bone, and mandate that the story of Noah be taught in science class.

Alright Children, Time For Your Biology Lesson

I buy the argument that a society that doesn’t value education — as ours largely does not — is marching toward its well-deserved grave.

Still, the hubris in the above screed rankles.

We humans take to reading and writing innately. The argument has been made, most notably by renowned linguist Steven Pinker, that the capability to produce and reproduce language is hard-wired in us, much like the ability to spin a web is written into the genetic code of the spider.

I’ll give you a bit of anecdotal evidence. I was sick throughout most of my kindergarten year. I had some weird low-grade fever deal that kept me home from school most days.

Anyway, I taught myself to read as I sat home. I flipped through the World Book Encyclopedia constantly, especially the parts that had to do with World War II, airplanes, trains, and maps. I’d see the little squiggles beneath the photos and ask my mother what they meant. She’d be grating breadcrumbs or making spaghetti sauce and she’d reply, “That says ‘tank’,” or “Illinois.”

Aw, Cool!

And I’d repeat the word or words. Mainly, though, I gleaned words and sentences through repetition, seeing them again and again in different places. I started to understand what “the” meant, or “men,” or, for that matter, “World Book Encyclopedia.”

This is how humans learn.

Teachers have their place as guides through the thicket of rational thought. Ideally, they help us learn to think critically. They steer us toward effective ways to study. At best, they inspire us to keep those childlike senses of wonder and curiosity we’re all born with.

But teachers are human. Some are good at what they do. Some are not. Too many of my teachers were far more interested in teaching my classmates and me the lessons of conformity and obedience.

The only things I learned from them was how to reject those lessons.

I see no reason to believe teachers have changed all that much since I was a school brat.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Before I met my husband, I’d never fallen in love. I’d stepped in it a few times.” — Rita Rudner

FUNNY HOW?

Funny world, isn’t it?

Funny as in Louis CK winning a Grammy award for his “Hilarious” album/DVD/thing.

Funny as in Rick Warren promising to go to jail over the Obama administration’s new health care/contraception ruling.

Jailbird?

Funny as in me pasting about a hundred and sixty seven Facebook posts in yesterday’s Pencil, congratulating FB-ers on their brilliant thoughts and then scrolling through the social medium today and seeing that everybody’s back to being boring again.

Funny as in US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and his wife being robbed at machete-point while on vacation in Nevis.

Funny as in Apple possibly being legally estopped from using its iPad brand in China because some little company had trademarked the name there more than a decade ago.

Estop It!

Funny that I used a form of the word estop in the above item — proof that my crossword puzzle addiction has taken over my life.

Funny as in this stupid winter coming back to South Central Indiana.

Funny as in disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer defining love for Valentine’s Day on the Big Think.

Can This Be Love?

Funny as in Alfred Lawson (the founder of the College of Lawsonomy) describing his own birth as “the most momentous occurrence since the birth of mankind.”

Funny as in the dearth of imagination in Hollywood, illustrated by the fact that at least 50 film sequels or remakes are being planned at this moment — they include:

  • A “Wizard of Oz” prequel
  • A third “Iron Man”
  • A sixth “The Fast and the Furious”
  • Another “Superman”
  • “Zoolander” again
  • “Dirty Dancing” redux
  • More “Smurfs”
  • The hundredth “Austin Powers”
  • The thousandth “Pirates of the Caribbean”
  • The millionth “Godzilla”
  • The billionth “Scarface”
  • The trillionth “Terminator”

They give out awards for this stuff?

LOVE IS ALL AROUND

Valentine’s Day. Being a professional contrarian, I’m morally obligated to sneer at the whole deal.

The Loved One reminded me yesterday that the first VD we spent together (we’d been seeing each other for some five and a half months at the time), I made no mention of the February 14th shebang but instead had flowers sent to her office on the 15th.

She found the off-day gesture charming. Sort of. I think.

Anyway, we’re being flooded with VD images today so I thought I’d get into the mood, just to be a sport.

BuzzFeed lists eleven trees that look like hearts.

And getting into the more pragmatic spirit of the day, BuzzFeed also lists seven trees that look like vaginas.

Pierced

Like I said; funny world, no?

LOVE IS ALL AROUND II

I mean, honestly, which American fictional figure represents Valentine’s Day more than Mary Richards?

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you were dating her and ignored Valentine’s Day, you would soon be, well, not dating her.

The opening of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” is a piece of cultural iconography. From her big, floppy bellbottoms to her accidentally crushing Ted Baxter‘s hat, Mary Richards represents those first, tentative, sometimes stumbling steps of women into the workplace in the early 1970s.

And when Mary tosses her tam into the air on a crowded downtown Minneapolis street corner as an old-fashioned babushka’d lady looks on in probable disapproval, you know you’re seeing America change right before your eyes.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I can’t understand looking forward to seeing a commercial.” — Paula Poundstone

A NATION OF AD PIMPS

A word of explanation about the quote above. Poundstone on this morning’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” was talking about how a grocery checkout clerk was shocked that she had neither watched the Super Bowl nor cared a bit about the telecast. “Not even the commercials?” the clerk gasped.

Poundstone later concluded, “No wonder we’re going downhill.”

Guess what — she’s freakin’ right!

LAND OF THE FREE(-ISH)

Like many Americans, I complain a lot about many things.

Admittedly, there’s much to complain about and I needn’t run down that list here for the three thousandth time. If you’ve been reading these screeds, you know where I stand on everything from “Two and a Half Men” to the corporatization of this holy land.

The Golden Arches-Spangled Banner

We’re a complaining bunch, we Americans. Louis CK does a terrific bit about how impatient and demanding we are. He talks about a guy saying he hates — hates — Verizon because a couple of his calls had been dropped. He refers to a woman saying she was once forced to sit in an airplane on a runway for 40 minutes before it took off, and described it as the worst day of her life.

Louis points out, correctly, that both cell phone technology and human flight are virtual miracles that we should be amazed to partake of. He challenges the person who hates Verizon to create his own cell phone network and see how close he can come to perfection in its operation. Then he riffs on the woman, saying the airplane, of course, did take off and she was sitting in a chair in the sky like the Greek gods did, moving from New York to Los Angeles in a matter of hours, a trip that at one time took years.

High Above Omaha

We do forget what a special time we live in, especially in this very, very privileged nation.

Even in the wake of the Great Recession, we have plenty to eat, we have cars, we have warm homes, we have cable, and, yes, we have cell phones.

The latest estimate by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization holds that in 2010, 925 million people were hungry in the world. That’s a shade below one of every seven human beings alive.

Even in these hard times, we’re doing pretty well here.

So, I figured I’d say something positive today.

I woke up in the middle of the night Wednesday. I couldn’t get back to sleep and yet I was too tired to read, so I clicked on Netflix to watch a movie. I selected something called “Death of a President,” a pseudo-documentary that was made in 2006.

The movie deals with a trip of then-President George W. Bush to Chicago to deliver a speech to a gathering of big shot business leaders. As he walks out of the Sheraton Hotel after the speech, he is shot twice in the chest by an unknown gunman. He is rushed to the hospital where he dies after several hours of surgery.

The FBI and the Chicago police beat the bushes to to find the shooter and after a couple of weeks settle on a Syrian-born, nationalized American citizen.

This fellow, Jamal Abu Zikri, once traveled back to the Middle East to study Islam at an ill-defined camp which turned out to be an al Qaeda training center. He was threatened with death if he attempted to leave the camp but eventually found a way to escape and returned to his home and wife in Chicago.

In the hysteria following the assassination, authorities cobble together some iffy evidence and, depending mainly on Zikri’s supposed connection to al Qaeda, get him convicted of the crime. In the meantime, new President Dick Cheney pushes through a third Patriot Act that allows the government even greater latitude in spying on and detaining suspected terrorists. Cheney also pushes the CIA hard to find connections between the Syrian government and the assassination.

I’m not telegraphing the ending by saying doubt is cast on everybody’s motives.

The movie is more about emotionalism, fear, rage, prejudice, xenophobia, vengeance, jingoism, radical hyperbole, and, essentially, every destructive trait that exists today in these Great United States, Inc. than the actual act of killing the president.

These destructive traits threaten to grow exponentially until they suffocate us.

“Death of a President” is not flattering to us. The US Chamber of Congress did not push it for an Oscar.

Still it ran in theaters here. And it’s a standard offering on such an innocuous service as Netflix.

That says a lot about America — maybe as much as “Two and a Half Men” and the corporatization of this holy land do.

I refer back to Louis CK who cracks that people in certain other nations wake up some mornings and say “Uh oh, today’s the day we get our heads cut off.”

Can you imagine movies depicting the killings of Hu Jintao, Manmohan Singh, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Dilma Rousseff, Yousaf Gillani, Vladimir Putin, Sheikh Hasina, and Yoshihiko Noda?

“Nyet.”

They are the bosses of the ten most populated nations on Earth, minus the United States. The people they boss constitute fully 53 percent of the people on this planet.

These 3.7 billion people, I suspect, would not be permitted to view a movie of such an uncomplimentary nature, much less one that allows the possibility that any of those nine dear leaders could be offed.

And keep in mind I haven’t included several billion other souls who live under a rogue’s gallery of minor despots, tyrants, and sadists.

I don’t like where we’re headed in these United States. I also know we still have a hell of a lot of freedom and latitude.

It’s worth remembering that now and then.

THE ART OF THE MICROSCOPE

Brain scientist Alex Straiker’s microscopy-based artwork will be on display in March at Finch’s Brasserie here in Bloomington. He’ll share the stage (or, more accurately, the easel) with award-winning botanical microscopist Jessica Lucas.

Straiker studies the effects of cannabinoids on the brain at Indiana University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Lucas is a researcher and outreach educator in the Shaw Lab at IU’s Biology Department.

Jessica Lucas’s Image Of A Fast-Growing Seedling

Alex and his lab-mates treat mice to mega-doses of THC and then check their brain structures to determine, among other things, why they crave White Castle sliders for hours afterward.

Straiker’s striking images have appeared on this site several times already in our short history. Watch this space to find out the date of the opening reception for his show.

JAZZ TIMES

Tune in to WFIU Monday afternoon for David Brent Johnson‘s “Just You and Me” daily jazz show.

DBJ And His Special Gal

DBJ tells me he plans to feature the jazz Grammy award winners Monday. The Grammy awards will be presented Sunday night in New York.

“Just You and Me” begins at 3:30 and runs for an hour and a half. It’s a good bet DBJ will be spinning loads of Roseanna Vitro and Kurt Elling.

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