Hot Air

Quick Hits & Snippets

Cold yet? Just wait. In the meantime, here are some news tidbits, opinions, and pontifications straight from The Pencil world headquarters. BTW: Chris Madsen, long-time voice of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and noted national media consultant, called my almost-daily word spurts “rants” yesterday. Hmm! Rants, eh? I’ll show you some rants.

Brrrrrr…., Grrrrrr!

Personal to Old Man Winter: Just go, will you?

Winter Ice

Music As Biography

Have you read the piece on John Mellencamp in the last Rolling Stone issue of 2013? It’s called “My Life in 15 Songs” and, in it, he describes how he’s grown, how his life has changed through the years as landmarked by certain hits. Pretty cool idea.

Now, I’ve never met Mellencamp, although I like to think we’re neighbors: He and I live on Indiana State Road 446. Of course, his lakefront mansion is some five miles south of my far more modest chez.

Anyway, when I first moved here, I’d hear people talking about M. and their stories generally went something like this:

My cousin’s brother-in-law knew him in high school and, man, was he an asshole. There was this one time….

None of the people who were so certain as to the character of the pop star-turned Americana singer-songwriter had ever seen the man, much less knew him.

I get the feeling that because he’d elected to live in So. Cent. Ind. people expected him to be chummy and warm with everyone he’d run into hereabouts, as if, rather than being a worldwide celebrity, he was everybody’s next door neighbor. So when he’d grunt in response to goggle-eyed fans accosting him at the Starbucks, they’d take it personally.

Mellencamp/Irwin

Jekyll & Bride

Conversely, his ex-wife, the stunning model Elaine Irwin, seems universally regarded as the nicest human ever to breath air in Indiana. I’ve got a theory about that, too, natch. See, people expect super models to be haughty, aloof, and utterly unapproachable. So whenever anyone might run into her in the Starbucks line, they’d hear her say please and thank you to the barista and come away convinced that she was, in truth, gushingly effusive and open-armed.

Face it, folks, we’re a weird species.

I’d Like You To Meet Someone….

Hey, as soon as I finish clacking this post out, I’m off to the recording studio to do an interview with big time graphic novelist Nate Powell. His latest tome is a joint production with Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) and writer Andrew Aydin entitled March: Book One. It the first of a trilogy recounting the life of the civil rights leader from his days on a little Pike County, Alabama, farm through the 1965 voting rights march in Selma (where he got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper) and on, triumphantly, to the halls of the US Capitol.

Nate Powell Artwork/John Lewis

Powell & Lewis

Powell’s well-known for his graphic novels, including Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire. He took a roundabout route to comix fame and we’ll be talking about it all today. My interview with him will be the first in a joint production venture between WFHB and The Ryder magazine. We’re looking to run a monthly piece in the mag featuring compelling folk from here in the Bloomington area as well as a companion audio feature on the Daily Local News. I’m excited as all hell about it.

Kudos and thanks to WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh and Ryder editor/publisher Peter LoPilato for joining the venture. BTW: I haven’t figured out what to call the thing yet. I’ve tossed around some ideas in my coconut and the best so far seems to be Big Mike’s People. If you’ve got a better idea, by all means pass it on.

Ready, Aim…, Duck!

Wow, here’s a shocker: Those Duck Dynasty hyenas are now pimping for a gun manufacturer. Imagine that! Bigoted people and guns. No one on Earth has ever made that connection before.

Tea Party & Guns

Poor Little Rich Boys

And, of course, the “affluenza” defense is becoming real, at least a version of it. Well, “real” in the same sense that, say, an accused rapist might plead he couldn’t help himself because that woman wore a miniskirt.

Ty Warner, the billionaire entrepreneurial genius who gave us Beanie Babies®, has been convicted of income tax evasion for parking countless millions of dollars in off-shore accounts. See, geniuses shouldn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us slobs.

He has pleaded guilty in federal court to the tax evasion charges and now is trying to convince the judge in his case that he shouldn’t go to jail because he came from the most deprived of childhoods so how could she expect him to do the right thing when he became a bazillionaire?

Warner

The Tears Of A Clown

Warner faces five years in the federal pen; that’s in addition to the $53 million in penalties and $16 million in back taxes he’s already been ordered to pay. But his reasoning goes that rich geniuses shouldn’t have to go to jail for evading taxes, especially if they’d been forced to endure abominations like taking jobs as busboys and valet parkers when they were in college.

The horror.

Do I need to tell you how I hope the judge rules?

Room To Write

Resident of the Internet-iverse (although his corporal body can be found in Forest Park, Illinois), Bill Lichtenberg, happened upon some chilling stats. Chilling, that is, when one (me) considers the depth and breadth of the competition to get one’s (mine) novel published.

Dominic Smith, writing in the books, arts and culture online magazine The Millions, has found that there are way, way, way, way too many people trying to catch the eyes of traditional publishers these days. Smith writes:

After studying the data, I’m inclined to think there’s a million people writing novels, a quarter of a million actively publishing them in some form, and about 50,000 publishing them with mainstream and small, traditional presses.

That’s in America alone, babies.

Personal to other writers: Back off; you’re crowding me

Radio Talk

Finally, the newly-formed WFHB newsletter committee will meet again tonight. I can say that I’m on the committee and maybe — just maybe — tonight I can get the other members to give me permission to identify them. We’ll see.

Anyway, the committee last week decided to aim for March to put out the inaugural issue.

Stay tuned.

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