The Pencil Today:


“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” — Doris Lessing


Yesterday was my mother’s 91st birthday.

The old girl is still chugging along. Just the other day she told me she she had no intention of moving out of her third floor apartment in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. She holds to that position even though it takes her about a week and a half to climb down the stairs just to fetch her mail.

I figure, Why argue with her? She might whack me on the side of the head. As long as she’s still got the crust to stare me down, she can live anywhere she’d like.

The Chief

In honor of Ma’s big day, I’ve decided to re-run a post that I wrote a year ago.


[Originally ran in The Third City, August 18, 2011]

The whole mess of Glab/Parello scoundrels, wastrels, beggars, borrowers, and stealers is gathering Saturday afternoon in the western suburbs to celebrate Sue Glab’s 90th birthday.

I call her The Chief.

She’s my mother. Born Susan Mary Parello in 1921. The nurses only put down the name Susan because they couldn’t make head or tail out of the Italian name Vincent and Anna Parello really wanted to hang on her. That would be Asunta, pronounced ah-SOON-tah, for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Parellos started their Chicago brood in Little Sicily near Grand and Ogden avenues. When Ma was a little girl, the family moved to the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood. There she met a Polish kid named Joe Glab. She was 16, he was 18. They eloped to Indiana. She buried the old man in 1995.

Ninety freakin’ years old. Can you imagine?

I don’t even know if I want to live to 90. I won’t be able to run around at night, chase women, drink till all hours, smoke like a chimney, then go out the next afternoon and play softball in Lincoln Park at that age.

I know I won’t be able to do these things when I’m 90 because I can’t do them now. Haven’t done them for a good dozen years.

In fact, the cardiologist’s office called me the other day to report that my last echocardiogram indicated the old chest pump is getting even creakier than it already has been. Great.

I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed ever since I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, back in 2003. Of all the things I can worry about, I’ve chosen to lose sleep over the possibility that I’ll turn in my timecard before my mother does.

To paraphrase a line from George Costanza of “Seinfeld,” I hope Ma goes lo-o-ong before I do.

So far so good. Now Sue Glab is almost 90.

You know, 90 is really, really old. When I was a kid, I thought 12-year-olds were old. Then when I started hanging out at dance and punk clubs when I was 21, I’d see couples who were 30 or so and think What are those old fools doing out on the dance floor?

Ma has always had a habit of remarking when anybody dies, be they 35, 67,  or 77: “Such a shame; and he was so young.”

I’d think, What the hell is she talking about? A 67-year-old is not young.

But to Ma, everybody who’s a day younger than she is, is young.

Now, just about everybody on Earth is at least a day younger than she is.

Even Ma knows enough not to say a 90-year-old who keels over dead is young.

Somehow little Susie Parello, later Glab, has made it through 10 spins shy of a century. Yee-ow.

That’s a lot of heartache and disappointment. And a bit of triumph here and there.

She doesn’t need to suffer the loss of the likes of me. Losing a kid, I understand, is the worst fate a parent can experience. She’s already destined to cash in her chips bearing another great grief. If she lives to be 137 her beloved Cubs still will not have won the World Series. One tragedy is enough in anybody’s life.

So far I’m holding up my end of the deal. And The Chief just keeps rolling along.

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.

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

From XKCD: “What If?”

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.

Present/&/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.

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.

Click For Full Article

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ivy Tech, Bloomington Campus — Monthly Lunch & Learn session: “The Power of Creativity” presented by Ladi Terry, 11:30am

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series: The Gospel Gurlz; 11:30am

◗ Corner of Madison & Sixth streets — Tuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

City Hall, McCloskey Room — South Central ArtsWORK Indiana monthly meeting; 5:30-7pm

The Venue Fine Art & Gifts“The Art of Twisted Limb Paperworks presented by Sheryl Woodhouse-Keese; 5:30pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Robbie Bowden; 6-8:30pm

Scholar’s Inn Gourmet CafeYoung Professionals of Bloomington monthly mixer; 6pm

Irish LionBloomington Rotaract, students & young professionals community service organization, call-out; 6:30pm

Cafe DjangoMusic: JFB Jazz Jam; 7pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Burden of Dreams”; 7pm

First United Methodist ChurchQuarryland Men’s Chorus call out, rehearsals every Tuesday; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Blues Jam hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: Bender’s Showcase; 8pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm

The BishopMusic: Patton’s War, Fluffer; 9pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “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:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; 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 CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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