The Pencil Today:


“Whether women are better than men I cannot say — but I can say they are certainly no worse.” — Golda Meir


Wait a minute!

You mean to tell me that the average woman still is making about 77 cents to the average man’s dollar?

And the Senate and the House aren’t in any particular hurry to rectify the situation?

Here’s a personal message to my friends who possess different plumbing than I do:

Do something about it! Because men sure as hell aren’t gonna do it for you.

Would it be so godawful for women to stage a Euro-style general strike for, say, a day or even two after congressional Republicans, as expected, squelch the Paycheck Fairness Act?


Click the logo to find out what’s going on in Bloomington today.


I’m not against people making piles of dough. I dream about it and, most likely, so do you.

But when is the pile big enough? Does the job that Cigna CEO David Cordani does warrant a paycheck that amounts to more than $50K a day?

What talents bordering on magic does he bring to the office that would impel his company to devote that much of its financial resources to him lest he up and work for somebody else?

And who else would pay him that kind of dough?

All I know is, I have a friend who visits a food hub once a month. Each time she visits, she is able to load up a single bag, for which she pays nothing. Some months, she’ll haul in several Marie Callender’s frozen dinner entrees. Other months, she’ll have a couple of boxes of granola bars among her swag.

She does this because she has to.

My friend is hardworking. The outfit that employs her would suffer if she left. She has certain talents that are unique.

Yet she doesn’t make $50k in two whole years.

Maybe I just don’t get this whole economics business.


Dave Hoekstra of the Sun-Times points out that the guy who brought Paul Bunyan to Cicero, Illinois, has died.

Hamlet Arthur Stephens ran a hot dog joint called — what else? — Paul Bunyon’s [sic] on Ogden Avenue, once designated US Rte. 66, for many years. He got hold of a nearly-20-feet-tall fiberglass statue of of the legendary woodsman in the early ’60s and had an even more outsized hot dog built to be cradled in the big lug’s arms.

I used to pass the statue regularly back in the mid-’70s when I had a girlfriend whose family lived in nearby Berwyn. It always bugged me that Bunyon was misspelled, but now I learn that Hamlet purposely replaced that A with an O so he wouldn’t be sued for copyright infringement.

And the funny thing is, the towering man — yep, even taller than Bloomington’s own Tall Steve — wasn’t meant to be Paul Bunyan in the first place. He was one of dozens of similar such statues created for gas stations and car repair shops. The story I always heard was that Cicero’s big guy originally had a muffler in his mitts.

Anyway, I was saddened when I learned that the hot dog gargantuan was taken down nearly ten years ago, back when I still lived in Chi. Paul Bunyon’s had closed and had been replaced by a Mexican restaurant.

Coincidentally, a scant two weeks ago the local newspaper for tiny Atlanta, Illinois, ran a piece about area volunteers cleaning up that town’s biggest “man.” Yep, it was the same statue that for some 40 years had beckoned hungry drivers to pull off Ogden Avenue and stop in for a wienie or two.

BTW: here’s the makeup of the traditional Chicago hot dog:

  • Boiled Vienna or David Berg tubesteak
  • Steamed Mary Ann brand poppyseed bun
  • Yellow mustard
  • Chopped onions
  • Tomato
  • Relish (the weirdly neon green kind)
  • Hot peppers (optional)
  • Dill pickle wedge (optional)
  • Celery salt (optional)
  • French fries placed alongside the dog and the whole package wrapped tightly in paper

Putting ketchup on a dog in Chicago has always been considered tantamount to perversion. Here’s a confession: I always took my dog with nothing but mustard and ketchup. A guy told me once that I clearly wasn’t a real Chicagoan when he heard me order my frank thusly.

Perhaps that’s why I left the city.

2 thoughts on “The Pencil Today:

  1. bill says:

    Yeah Big Mike, I’m sure it was the ketchup and not the oppressive dejection and depression that came with being ] x [ <this close to your beloved Cubbies and not being able to help them out of your misery…

    As to the battle of the sexes, I surrendered long ago to the unquestioned superiority of the "weaker sex". You missed a wonderful opportunity to reprise Harry B singing "Man Smart; Woman Smarter"

  2. Re the Cigna CEO, “What talents bordering on magic does he bring to the office that would impel his company to devote that much of its financial resources to him lest he up and work for somebody else?”

    Years ago there was a “Dilbert” cartoon that I have carried in my head ever since.

    Bitter Secretary to Pointy-Haired Boss: “I do five times as much work as you but you make twelve times as much as me. Why?”

    Boss: “That’s because there are many people like you but only a few like me.”

    Secretary: “THAT’S because the people like me eventually kill the people like you.”

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