The Pencil Today:


“The trouble with being a hypochondriac these days is that antibiotics have cured all the good diseases.” — Caskie Stinnett

Read On To Find Out Why I Put Up This Pic Of A Big Toe (And Its Buddies)


Life is not fair. We should all know it. The only people who cry about this state of affairs are those who expect life to be fair.

That, of course, is what kindergarteners think. BTW: Remember the rage for that gooey book by Robert Fulghum — “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”?

The man should have been incarcerated (right after Robert James Waller, whose “The Bridges of Madison County” hit it big around the same time.)

And who’s heard of Fulghum (or Waller) in the last decade or so? They’ve been swallowed up by the anonymity they so richly deserve.


Life has nothing to do with kindergarten.

Anyway, I didn’t post yesterday because I spent the morning in my doctor’s office. The diagnosis: gout.

Isn’t that the dumbest goddamn disease you’ve ever heard of? I mean, honestly.

It doesn’t kill you. It doesn’t maim you. It just hurts to high heaven, to the point where you can’t even sleep at night.


And its image really, really stinks. Unless you’re knowledgeable about it, the first thing you think of when you hear the word gout is some fat slob like Henry VIII, gorging himself on fatty, rich foods until his body rebels against him.


Nobody’s gonna hold a charity walk for that.

The truth, as my old pal and colleague Benny Jay found out a couple of years ago, is another story.

Benny’s my age but as trim as a 25-year-old. He eats like monk, rarely drinks, and runs every day. I really hate him. Yet he got gout. The docs told him he had a genetic predisposition for it.

When I first heard he had it, I immediately chided him: “So, you’ve been eating all the wrong crap, huh?”

If You Eat Pâté de Foie Gras, You Deserve Gout

I thought he was going to clobber me. He set me straight about what a straight-arrow he is (did I mention I hate him?) He really educated me about gout, too.

So when it felt as though a safe had fallen on my left big toe Monday night and I came to the conclusion I had gout, I didn’t put myself through the self-flaggelation that most sufferers do.

Still, gout is stupid. And life is not fair.


Don’t google pix of big toes, as I had to do to find the image above.

I didn’t know exactly what I expected to find. Figuring it’s the Internet and I was looking for images of a certain body part, I suppose I thought most of the results would be porn sites. The human capacity to fetishize things for masturbatorial gratification is positively amazing.

To my dismay, the vast majority of big toe images were 73 times more disgusting than any foot porn could be. (And BTW: did you know Goethe, Thomas Hardy, Elvis Presley, and Andy Warhol were foot fetishists? Man!)

For god’s sake people, take care of your toes!

And while we’re at it, men should never wear sandals. Yeah, I know, it feels comfortable, but the rest of us don’t want to see how you’ve ignored toe care for the last 20 years.

Women Can Get Away With It


In more pedestrian matters (hehe, a pun) the Herald Times yesterday ran an editorial calling for consolidation of the Monroe County and City of Bloomington governments.

That’s what Indy did with Marion County back in 1970. They call their set-up Unigov. Louisville, Kentucky and Jefferson County did it, too, in 2003, dubbing their marriage Metro Louisville. Former mayor Jerry Abramson used to brag that his town had become the 16th biggest city in the nation. Unfortunately, no one else bought into that conceit.

The editorial cites the county’s election day screw-up and the County Auditor’s credit card mini-scandal among the reasons the two entities should merge.

We’ll be listening for the reactions of the folks in Ellettsville, Stinesville, and Smithville.


State Senator Vi Simpson wants to get her hands on some of that $300 million of state money auditors found laying around last month.

Vi Simpson

Apparently, she’s interested in directing some of that dough toward state school districts that have had to endure — mirabile dictu! — some $300 million in state cutbacks of late.

Doesn’t she know these are more prudent, conservative times we live in? And she wants to throw away money on kids’ educations? Sheesh.


Just a little taste from what I consider one of the 10 greatest American movies ever made. Sheer pleasure for the ears and eyes.

2 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. I’m usually a day or two late reading papers and stuff, so I’ve seen the headline about the proposed county-city merger for MonroeCo but have not read the Herald Times take on it.

    That said, I’m a’gin’ it. Back when Unigov passed in Marion Co, overnight the urban black population was outnumbered by the rural white population. Ponder that. Without Unigov, Indy might’ve had an African-American mayor or three by this time.

    Out in MonroeCo, there is already a certain level of resentment of Bloomington’s University-liberal wealth. I would rather the communities of Ellettsville, Stinesville, Smithville, and others retain a sense of autonomy and self-empowerment, identities distinguishable from Bloomington. I would prefer that they find leadership from within for partnering with the City, rather than be subsumed into the identity of “Bloomington.” I look forward to seeing whether the Bloomington media will clearly examine how City politics would change if the demographic of its voters changes, and the allocation and prioritization of its resources changes.

    Time for me to dig into that stack of front sections of the HT on my dining table. I need to polish up my two cents.

  2. Aha, now I’ve read the editorial, and I see that you and I both are reacting to imagined alarums, Mike.

    Editorial suggests merging “some” city & county functions, for efficiency & improved coordination & communication. You & I are jumping at the shadow of total Unigov homogeneity.

    I can get behind the idea of redundancies being examined and put up for consolidation. The ones suggested by the editorial make sense:

    “The county is working on a “comprehensive land use plan.” The city will begin next year working on a “growth policies plan.”

    “The plans need to work together. It makes more sense for Monroe County to have one plan that incorporates both the city and the county. There should be one plan director and one plan commission that deals with planning and land use at both levels.

    “What about parks? How about engineering? Roads and streets? Overlap and duplication are not affordable any longer.”

    I do think Bloomington! The City! is complex enough to merit its own “growth policies” plan, and the presence of Mayor Kruzan on the County’s MPO facilitates communication of County land use issues to the City.

    More to come on this one, for sure. Stay tuned.

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