Category Archives: Ranker.com

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Rupert Murdoch is the most dangerous man in the world.” — Ted Turner

PAY ‘EM: DAY 4

Jerry Pritikin, who’s also known as the “Bleacher Preacher” (he sermonizes on the religion that is Chicago Cubs fandom), lives across Wells Street from Walter Payton College Prep School, one of the jewels of the Chicago Public Schools.

His high-rise window gives him a front row seat to the daily picket line outside the school’s front door. He snapped this shot early yesterday morning:

And yesterday Rupert Murdoch sloshed out of the primordial ooze that is his natural habitat to throw his support behind the intransigent Mayor Rahm Emanuel in negations with the Chicago Teachers Union.

Murdoch joins a roster of Emanuel’s anti-labor backers that already includes Romney, Paul Ryan, Rudy Giuliani, and everybody else who favors a for-profit, corporate-run educational system.

In case corporate school management doesn’t alarm you, keep in mind it is the private, for-profit sector that has given us global warming, job-outsourcing, the financial meltdown of 2007-08, monster SUVs, Khloe Kardashian, and KFC’s Double Down.

Oh, and another thing:

YOU WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT

As repugnant as Willard Romney’s lightning-quick politicization of the embassy attacks was to all serious-minded, concerned, right-thinking people — and even some members of his own Republican Party — his finger-pointing might have been a smart political move.

I reacted strongly on Facebook yesterday to his fatuous charge that President Obama “sympathizes” with the attackers:

Upon reflection, though, it occurs to me that Romney’s remarks might not have been as ill-considered as many wags and experts seem to think.

It’s becoming clear that Romney’s ceiling is 50 percent of those likely to go to the polls in November. As in, that’s the best he can hope for. If he wins, it won’t be because his party loves him to pieces nor because he inspires passion among the so-called independents.

In fact, his core constituency, whether he likes it or not, are those who are still scared to death of the brown “outsider” they consider Obama to be.

That’s whom he was speaking to yesterday. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Obama said that Romney shoots before he aims. Maybe, but not in this case. Romney was aiming directly at the limbic brains of people who already think Obama is an Arab plant in the White House. Romney and his strategists know that they have to get those folks out in bunches on Election Day.

Romney’s Opponent

You know as well as I do that plenty of people will be telling each other that Obama is cozy with Muslim extremists — and as proof they’ll repeat Romney’s slander.

Get ready for more of this: the election is only 54 days away.

WHY, MOM AND DAD, WHY?

Bloomington’s own John Mellencamp tops Ranker.com’s list of celebrity parents who’ve saddled their heirs and heiresses with absurd or grotesque names.

And just to show how preposterous the mania for baby-naming “creativity” has grown among those whose lives are devoting to begging for our attention, Frank Zappa’s decision to dub his daughter Moon Unit only ranks No. 6 on the list.

Here are Ranker’s top ten Most Ridiculous Celebrity Baby Names:

  1. Speck Wildhorse Mellencamp (parents Mellencamp and Elaine Irwin)
  2. Moxie CrimeFighter Jillete (Penn Gillette and Emily Zolten)
  3. Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf Lee (Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf)
  4. Little Pixie Frou-Frou Geldof (Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)
  5. Pirate Houseman Davis (Jonathan and Deven Davis)
  6. Moon Unit Zappa (Frank and Adelaide Zappa
  7. Fifi Trixibelle Geldof (Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)
  8. Jermajesty Jackson (Jermain Jackson and Alejandra Oaziaza)
  9. Audio Science Clayton ( Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton)
  10. Kal-El Coppola Cage (Nicolas Cage and Alice Kim)

Moon Unit Zappa Managed To Avoid Committing Patricide

Lest you think Nic Cage’s kid was named in honor of some hero of the Arabic-speaking world, “Kal-El” was actually the name of the kid from Krypton who eventually grew up to be Superman. In the comics, Nic.

Check out the list for 40 more names guaranteed to earn the average child daily beatings in the schoolyard. Some teasers: Larry King named his son Cannon and Bob Geldof makes the list a third time and Paula Yates a fourth.

HOLY MATRIMONY

Thanks to Deanna Goe-Truelock of Roots on the Square and the Siam House for pointing these cogent arguments out:

THE WISDOM OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD

Many people think the rest of the world possesses a wisdom and sensitivity that we in this holy land lack. That may be, but there are some powerful arguments to refute the claim.

To wit: the world beyond these shores has embraced the likes of Slim Whitman as well as “Baywatch” and David Hasselhoff.

It follows, then, that the non-US world concerns itself with a sport that’s almost as scintillating as living through a coma.

From XKCD Via I Love Charts

(Note: The “Football” in green is soccer. The “Football” in, um, vomit-after-a-night-of-drinking-cheap-wine red is American football — y’know, the sport of traumatic brain injury.)

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and the old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” — Brendan Behan

THE LOST WALLABY

So, an Evansville guy has lost his wallaby.

Yep. The man has (or, more accurately now, had) an albino wallaby named Kimba.

Typical Albino Wallaby

A week ago today, Ron Young let the critter out in his fenced backyard and, next thing he knew, Kimba had taken a hike. Well, actually four hours later, the animal took her hike.

Wild creatures can figure out many ways to escape a fenced enclosure if you give them four hours. Hell, if I left Steve the Dog out in a fenced yard (which we don’t have) and came back four hours later, I’d find the yard empty save for a pair of fence cutters dropped in haste on the grass.

I mean, Steve likes me and The Loved One well enough, but the allure of out there is irresistible. And this is a  pampered hound who looks at me as if I’m from the moon when I suggest he go outside in a light mist to do his business.

“I Like Youse Guys But Gimme Half A Chance And I’m Outta Here.”

Anyway, Young is a former director of the Evansville Zoo. You’d think he’d know better. And not just about leaving an animal unattended for such a long period of time.

Just having a non-native animal in Southern Indiana seems rash to me.

Wallabies, I’ll hazard to guess, don’t want to be here. Were we to give the macropods a vote in the matter, it’s a good bet they’d overwhelmingly elect to stay in Australia, New Zealand, or any of the nearby Oceania islands they inhabit.

Which reminds me of an egregious example of humans introducing a non-native species to a strange geographical environment.

A wealthy goofball named Thomas Austin brought a couple of dozen cute little bunnies to his estate in Victoria in 1859. He’d wanted to shoot at them for fun and games. See, rabbits had never before lived in Australia and a man can become bored blasting away at the same old 755 different species of reptile as well as countless platypi, echidnae, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, kookaburras, dingoes, and other mammals and birds native to that land.

Apparently, Austin never bagged his limit because the surviving bunnies did what bunnies do — that is, they bonked and bonked and bonked until they’d essentially taken over most of the continent within forty years.

You might say, So what? What can cute little bunnies do to a continent? The answer: devastate it.

The hundreds of millions of rabbits who now hold sway over the entire landmass have eaten so much foliage that exposed soil and land erosion is now a major problem in many huge swaths of Australia. Not only that but a significant number of plant species have now gone extinct, thanks to the voracious rabbits. And since the plants have disappeared, at least two mammals species, the bilby and the bandicoot, have essentially vanished.

Australian Rabbits Are Heavy Drinkers, Too.

Some estimate that the damage caused by Austin’s rabbits costs the Australian economy more than A$500 million a year.

Not that we have to worry about wallabies taking over North America now that Kimba has escaped her pen. She’s probably dead now since wallabies really don’t know how to live in winter climes.

Folks, if you want a pet, go adopt a dog or cat from the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter.

SHUT UP AND EAT

When I was a bartender at Club Lago, an Italian restaurant in Chicago, one of our cooks was a funny man named Chico. He loved to concoct new dishes using only the stuff that was leftover in the kitchen at the end of the night. He’d serve up plates of the scrumptious stuff to the waitstaff and me after we’d locked the doors.

Occasionally, a new hire might ask before digging in, “What’s in this?” To which Chico would swiftly reply, “Just shut up and eat.”

I found his directive to be sensible and easy enough to follow.

Not that Chico was worried we’d learn he’d been dumping toxic substances into his skillet or pot. His philosophy was if you really love to eat, just eat. The act of consuming comestibles should be enjoyed without worry or fear. Eat!

Admittedly, one might want to question the company that whips up, say, Spam. A wise person wants to know how many species have sacrificed their lives for that rectangular hunk of “meat.”

“Food”

But Chico’s dishes were made of fresh vegetables, succulent seafood, lovingly-stirred sauces, and prime meats. Just shut up and eat.

Which brings me to a recent study that indicates the food fetishists of this holy land — thousands of whom seem to have settled here in Bloomington — ought to try to hew to Chico’s axiom.

Apparently, according to the study, people tend to think a food is more nutritious, is safer, and is more pure only because it carries labels like “fair trade,” “natural,” or “organic.”

It’s called the “health halo” effect. And it’s pretty much bullshit.

Yeah, It’s Natural — But It’s Still Junk Food

Now, the organic designation is defined by federal law. It means simply that the grub you’re jamming into your mouth is reasonably free from certain prohibited substances like dangerous pesticides or controversial additives. The organic designation in no way affects the taste or nutritional quality of a food. It’s conceivable, for instance, that Hormel Foods could apply for and receive the USDA’s approval to slap the organic logo on its cans of Spam.

“Fair trade” and “natural,” on the other hand have no legal definitions. I could market cow flop tomorrow, calling it “all-natural” — which it is — and be well within my legal rights. And making sure some Colombian coffee growers get a fair price for their crop doesn’t make my cup of joe any different from yours.

Still, the study found that people will go so far as to believe a piece of fair trade chocolate contains fewer calories than one not marketed under that label.

So, yeah, we’d like to make sure we’re not screwing the world’s farmers to death because we need to stuff ourselves with sandwich cookies. And it’s good to know there isn’t a cupful of Red Dye No. 3 in that package of Jujubes.

But let’s try to be reasonable. Just shut up and eat.

WHO ARE THE KARDASHIANS?

For the longest time, my mind has refused to retain information about the Kardashians.

The gray mass inside my cranium is like that. It has also prohibited me from understanding basic economic precepts for many long years. For example, I’d ask somebody what the national debt is. Not how much it is, but what exactly it is, as in its definition. Financially savvy pals would explain it to me in excruciating detail and I’d nod my head as if I were taking it all in.

But — swear to god — ten minutes later all those words and ideas would have spilled out of my ear and onto the floor, only to be mopped up by the bartender or busboy at whichever saloon or restaurant I’d just had my lesson in.

Not Even IU’s Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Ellie Ostrom Can Help Me

Same thing with the Kardashians. I must have asked at least three dozen different people through the years who the Kardashians are and why this holy land knows of them.

And every time the knowledge imparted to me simply departs my brain, leaving no forwarding address.

When  it comes to the national debt, I feel bad about my ignorance. But I’m proud of my Kardashian stupidity.

Duh, I Dunno

Apparently, many others in the Great United States, Inc. also are less than enthralled by the K-clan. This despite the fact that all corporate news outlets must record and recount the family’s every muscle move.

Ranker.com come has compiled a list of the 40 Americans least deserving of their fame and fortune. Within the top ten on the list, there are three Kardashians: Kim, Kourtney, and Rob.

Now I don’t feel so out of touch. On the other hand, who the hell is The Situation?

Um, Uh, What Was The Question?

WHITE ROOM

Right off the bat, I’m not advocating the use of heroin. Lemme put it this way, back in the days when I and my circle were willing to ingest anything for a high, the very idea of heroin scared the bejesus out of me.

I’d met a young woman when I was about 23 years old. She never missed a chance to extol the wonders of heroin. I asked her what it was like. Her eyes turned dreamy and she said, “It’s the greatest feeling you’ll ever know. After heroin, sex is nothing.”

I vowed at that moment never to try it — and I never have.

Eric Clapton waged a well-documented, years-long battle against heroin addiction. He’s been clean for nearly forty years. But his heroin-free output includes such treacle as “Tears in Heaven” while his “White Room” with Cream was recorded at the height of his horse ride.

I’m just saying.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This preposterous idea, that things must pay their way or be dispensed with, is perhaps the most intractable legacy of the Thatcher years, so much so that it has become received wisdom even among many liberals. But when you think about it even for a nanosecond, it is perfectly obvious that most worthwhile things don’t begin to pay for themselves. If you followed this absurd logic any distance at all, you would have to get rid of traffic lights, schools, drains, national parks, museums, universities, old people and much else besides.” — Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson & Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

CREEPY, SPOOKIE, ALTOGETHER OOKIE

Cartoonist Charles Addams was born on this day in 1912 (h/t to Google). His work graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine for many years. His fictional “Addams Family” eventually became the eponymous sitcom.

Well, fictional to an extent. It’s said both his wives looked uncannily like Morticia Addams. And by the way, if you’re making a list of very hot female sitcom stars, Carolyn Jones as Morticia has to rank at least in the top five.

Gomez And Morticia

SPEAKING OF GHOULISH WOMEN

Back to Maggie Thatcher. Is it my imagination or is her image is being remade these days, thanks in part to that new movie, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep?

All of a sudden it seems Thatcher is being repositioned as a great icon in the history of the advancement of women. Never mind that she rose to the top employing all the mannish characteristics that have pushed the world to the brink of catastrophe time and again. She was stubborn, insensitive, bellicose, nationalistic, and smug. She cared far more for an economic philosophy than for trivial things like human beings.

When she pushed her country to go to war for some godforsaken piece of rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I observed that she was merely trying to show the world that her dick was as big as any man’s.

In fact, there’s a scene in the movie dealing with the lead-up to the Falklands War. The character playing US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, himself a former Army general, cautions her against being so gung-ho about sending battleships full of soldiers to fight over the little islands.

Thatcher: “We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.”

Hiag: “But Margaret, with all due respect, when one has been to war….”

Thatcher (interrupting): “With all due respect sir, I have been to battle every single day of my life. And many men have underestimated me before!”

Need I mention that there’s a huge difference between breaking the glass ceiling and a “principle” which cost 907 lives, 1843 wounded, 11,428 taken prisoner, a cruiser, 2 destroyers, a submarine, two frigates, four cargo vessels, a half dozen other sea craft and 75 aircraft?

By the way, British warships and submarines that were part of the expeditionary fleet were armed with tactical nuclear weapons, just in case, I suppose, the Argentinians failed to grasp Thatcher’s “principle.”

Argentine Dead After The Battle Of Goose Green

OCCUPY UPDATE

As of last night, one woman remained in People’s Park, refusing to leave despite Mayor Mark Kruzan’s eviction order. She’d chained her tent to a tree and stayed inside, refusing to come out when city workers descended on the scene to clear away any personal belongings that were left by the protesters.

Apparently, the city is not going to force her to leave just yet. Officials are hoping to avoid an unpleasant scene.

City officials lauded the Occupiers for the most part, saying many of them helped city crews clean up the park.

Now Bloomington police will again enforce the regular 11:00pm-5:00am park curfew.

And yesterday, Josh Johnson was was arraigned before Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff. He’d been arrested during the New Year’s Eve Dance Party disturbance Saturday night and Sunday morning. He was charged with two felony counts of resisting arrest with injury to a police officer.

SNICKERS

Ranker.com today presents a list of the best candy ever made. Snickers is ranked number one.

I have absolutely no quarrel with that.

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning these days? It may be because these days have the latest sunrises of the year, according to Earthsky.org.

The science site explains why the late sunrises in the Northern Hemisphere and the concurrent late sunsets in the Southern do not coincide with the solstice (which, in 2011, was December 21st.)

WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING?

Elvis Costello once said he couldn’t wait for Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral so he could dance on her grave.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” — Aristotle

A MOUNTAIN OF ICE CREAM

I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been a bit down the last few days.

Now, I had no intention of being a buzz killer for the holiday so I was really steaming up my cranium, trying to figure out something gay (in the word’s old school definition) to say.

Not Me!

Wouldn’t you know it — this crazy, mixed-up world came to my rescue.

Here’s a flash from our friends in Ft. Wayne. Police had to block off Interstate 69 yesterday because there’d been an ice cream spill.

Yes, yes, yes — 40,000 pounds of ice cream covered the pavement after the truck carrying it had tipped over. And, as icing on the cream, the truck driver suffered only minor injuries.

It’s A Tough Job But Somebody’s Gotta Do It

The truck had been carrying thousands of cylindrical containers of Edy’s ice cream. They rolled around on the concrete in the near-freezing temps.

How about that for a Merry Christmas? Can you imagine what Roald Dahl would have done with this story?

BALANCE

Okay, I did my duty — I went positive to open today’s proceedings. You know I wouldn’t be myself without visiting the dark side, so here goes.

Kpop is evil. That’s all I have to say about it. Evil.

BRAINY KIDS

Back to the good news: three Bloomington elementary schools made the state’s Four Star School list. Binford, Childs, and Lakeview’s ISTEP grades all made it into Indiana’s top 25th percentile. Nice job.

Now, make sure the kids do not listen to Kpop.

I CAN’T HELP MYSELF

Here I go, slipping into darkness again. Ranker.com today offers the 13 Most Horrifying Classic Christmas Songs of All Time:

  1. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  3. Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt version)
  4. 12 Days of Christmas
  5. The Christmas Shoes
  6. Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Dean Martin tries to force sex on a woman!)
  7. Away in a Manger
  8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (by the Jackson 5 — need I say more?)
  9. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (the Band Aid treacle from 1984: “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time” — snow in Africa?)
  10. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
  11. Winter Wonderland (two little kids want to get married and then have the snowfall cover up their ensuing secret activities)
  12. Jingle Bells
  13. Please, Daddy (by John Denver — which is bad enough — the first line is “Please, Daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas”; and I was afraid of being a buzz kill?)

CLOSING ON A HIGH NOTE

Christmas Eve 1968 was cold and sunny in Chicago. I remember having to ride with my daddy-o to the Walgreen’s late in the afternoon to pick something up even as my sisters and their families were arriving at the house. The sunset was glorious, with high red, mauve, and violet clouds in the extreme southwest. It was one of those moments I knew I’d remember for the rest of my life. I flicked on the AM radio and this song came on:

Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends and Happy Giftmas to everyone else.

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