The Pencil Today


The first shot was fired last week, according to an anecdote I overheard at the venerable Bloomington caffeine-jones institution.


One participant was scarred, possibly permanently, suffering a coffee-stained suit. The attack was  dastardly, sudden. The victim is bravely attempting to carry on.

Here’s the tale from a completely impeachable source — although I verified the incident with the victim.

The dean of a certain high profile Indiana University school was picking up his usual morning life-giving substance at Soma. As he approached the front door to leave, another customer was about to enter.

This second customer pushed open the front door with asymmetric shock, as — oh, say — an economist might describe it.

Greenspan: “Hey, Watch How You Throw That Door Open.”

Sadly, due to the door-opener’s irrational exuberance, the door swung into the dean and caused him to spill coffee over his business suit.

The dean in question, by the way, is a nice guy, a gentleman, and well-respected even outside his discipline. On the other hand, his discipline is not universally cherished by some angry citizens these days. (As opposed to, say, the 1980s and 90s.)

Gekko: “Throw That Door Open And Damn Everyone Who’s In Your Way!”

Anyway, the dean jumped back and looked plaintively at the young man who threw the door open.

The young man eyed the dean, whose suit befitted a man who earns some $350,000 per annum (HT to the H-T annual listing of salaries.) The door opener apparently lumped the dean in with the justifiably-villified uber-rich hyenas whom the Republican Party, the Koch-fueled Me Party-ists, and the Ayn Rand fetishists doggedly feel deserve their billions and billions and billions and….

The young man said, coldly, “Hey, you’re part of the one-percent; just go buy yourself a new suit.”

With that, the young man strode toward the counter and ordered his drink. The dean remained in place for a beat, his mouth agape.

Che & Fidel: Noted Spillers Of Coffee On College Deans

The aggrieved dean seems to be recovering. He told me, “I’ll be alright. I’ve been called worse things.”


November 22nd dawned chilly and overcast in Chicago some 48 years ago today.

It was, on the other hand, a warm day bathed in brilliant sunshine in Dallas.

The nuns at St. Giles sent us all home early that afternoon. The principal, Sister James Mary, made the announcement over the PA. We were shocked as we listened to her. Her voice seemed to be cracking with emotion.

We second graders had never before imagined nuns to be capable of feeling any emotion other than rage.

When I got home, my mother was vacuuming. I watched her for a few moments. She seemed to be rolling the vacuum over the same spot, obsessively. She was crying.

I’d never seen Ma cry before.

If you weren’t alive and aware on that long ago Friday, the only analogy I can make to convey the life-changing nature of that day is to cite September 11, 2001.

The hell of it is, now I’ve personally lived through two such days. I have absolutely no interest in living through another.


We’ve already got crackerjack author Joy Shayne Laughter here. And the latest opus from those cinematic geniuses Chris Rall and Tony Brewer is here too.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be presenting work by music aficionado Ryan Lee Dawes and we’ll begin running a brand new comix series by Grover & Sloan.

Here’s a sneak preview of G&S’s “Cats and Machines” series:

Cats And Machines

Oh hey, did I mention that research scientist Dr. Alex Straiker of the IU Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences will grace these pages with his vivid images of neuron microscopy? He mixes science with art as well as any creative alchemist ever has.

Stayed tuned or it’ll be your loss. So there!

3 thoughts on “The Pencil Today

  1. Candy says:

    That’s the best Bloomington news in weeks. Why didn’t the HT get that tidbit? Oh, because this is Electron Pencil. The best damn blog in Bloomington.

  2. Such a difference between Underclass and No-Class.

  3. Time for the introduction of a crystal clear coffee for those whose conscious may be anything but.

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