Category Archives: Bill Maher

Hot Air

Fighter

How excited are you about that new politico-memoir, A Fighting Chance, written by Elizabeth Warren?

Warren’s the coolest human in politics these days. I’d love to live in world wherein she’d be the queen. OTOH: I don’t want to see her get within a mile of the Oval Office. People who have a fighting chance, to borrow a phrase, of becoming president must compromise themselves into a certain near-nothingness, witness one Barack H. O.

Warren

Tough Dame

The Devil has in his safety deposit box the souls of some 43 presidents as well as all the real challengers they faced before becoming the boss of this holy land. And don’t correct me on the no. of presidents — Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, ergo he’s counted as two of ’em.

Anyway, I want Warren on the outside, fighting the good fight. So far, she’s the best there is at that job.

Pencil Logrolling

If you don’t read the Comments section of this communications colossus you might have missed this from yesterday:

Shameless Related Promotions Department: I’m working with my dear friend and doc-film collaborator Nadeem Uddin to get his lifelong project finished this year, the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas leak disaster. If you ever wondered what a major chemical attack would look like in a densely populated civilian area, this is it.

http://vimeo.com/88071322

We’re currently setting up an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the second segment, which looks at how a child exposed to the gas in 1984 has passed on genetic defects to his children.

PS – Nadeem is coming to town for a visit in late May. Anyone interested in a screening of footage and some Q&A?

The comment is from Penicillista and great friend, Shayne Laughter. If she’s in on a project — or even if she merely gives it her blessing — you know it’s the real deal and worth your while.

Mid-Life Adventure

One of our town’s most compelling figures, cartoonist Mike Cagle, is shipping off to Oregon this summer. He’ll begin the 2014-15 term as a student at Lewis & Clark Law School. He sez he just may want to practice public interest law.

How can you not love B-town when this burgh is populated by folks like Mike. Our loss is the world’s gain.

Sterling Redux

I wiped the floor with Donald Sterling yesterday, natch. The only thing right-thinking folk might quibble with was my assertion that Sterling should not be officially punished for utterances in, presumably, his private home where he was being recorded without his knowledge. That, friends, is thought crime.

Now, don’t have a fit; I fully support a boycott of his Los Angeles Clippers games. He’s a bad man in so many ways I’ve run out of fingers and toes and facial hairs to count them. The sooner his evil soul departs his body, the better. But, again, human beings should not be persecuted or prosecuted by any authority for the hate in their hearts.

Or, as Bill Maher says, “Calm down. Being an asshole is still legal.”

Oh, BTW, Sterling is a Republican. Registered. Who’da thunk it?

And, to make this farce even more ridiculous, certain conservative groups and publications are trying to spread the lie that’s he’s a Dem! We live in a weird, weird country, kiddies.

Large And In Charge

And, speaking of posterior orifices, our gal Sarah Palin bleated this past weekend before the assembled multitudes at the NRA’s annual fapfest, held this year in Indy.

And, again, just like yesterday when I took the bullet for you by listening to the Sterling tape, I did it again by listening to Palin’s speech. Babies, I am your freakin’ he-ro!

The gist of her shrieking could be summarized in the quote, “If I were in charge….”

No word yet if audience members began masturbating furiously in their seats upon hearing this most risible sentiment.

Palin

We all have heard her marvy quote about waterboarding being the way “we baptize terrorists.” Nuts, right? But did you catch her statement that, again, if she were in charge, she’d be standin’ tall right there in the Ukraine and she’d have stopped Putin from making his land grabs?

Swear to god, this piece of work sees herself as something like that Chinese kid who stood before the line of tanks in Tiananmen Sq. back in 1989.

Okay, that’s my report on Palin. That’s plenty of heroism for this big boy for one weekend. I’ll be going off to check myself in for battle fatigue treatment now.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let’s face it; god has a big ego problem. Why do we always have to worship him?” — Bill Maher

PAY ‘EM: DAY 3

Bill Lichtenberg of Forest Park, Illinois feels I took too strong a position yesterday on the venial nature of the Chicago Teachers Union strike.

In case you missed it, I said the strike is not about children, it’s about pay and workplace conditions.

He’s a strong supporter of teachers unions, as am I. But we come to our stances via different paths.

Striking Chicago Teachers, September 11th, 2012

His path, I suppose, wound through the neighborhood of the angels. Me? I’ve always taken shortcuts through the alley.

Bill sent me a link to the CTU’s dissertation on what the Chicago Public Schools system needs to do to ensure that every student gets, in the union’s words, “the same quality education as the children of the wealthy.”

Make no mistake, I’m with the teachers on that issue as well. I just know that unions usually don’t go on strike for high-minded ideals.

BLINDED BY SCIENCE

I’ll be at Rachael’s Cafe tonight listening to physicist Michael Snow talk about antimatter.

It’s the season’s first gathering of the latest incarnation of the Bloomington Science Cafe.

I’d post an image illustrating antimatter but, well, I can’t. And if I have to explain this gag, you ought to come to Rachael’s tonight at 6:30pm to find out why.

THE WRATH OF GOD

Religious fundamentalists in Egypt and Libya are having apoplexy over some amateur video that purportedly insults Muslims or their god or whatever.

Word just came in that the US ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. It was one of several such attacks in the two countries.

Demonstrating His Holiness

The film reportedly was made by an Israeli-American but certain people in Cairo believe it was actually made by Egyptians Copts living in the US. The Copts are a favorite minority for Muslim fundamentalists upon whom to vent whatever rage they happen to feel on a given day.

So now the Copts of Cairo are coming out into the streets to shake their fists at anyone who insults anybody’s religion.

Sigh.

I suppose I understand why the Copts are joining in on all the fun. It’s better than getting the bejesus beaten out of them for something they didn’t even do.

In any case, it apparently doesn’t matter who made the film, only that wild-eyed fundamentalists get to whack the crap out of somebody to show how much they love god.

You know, we’ve got out own religious lunatics in this holy land. The Rev. Fred Phelps jumps to mind. Gasbags like Pastor John Hagee and TV plaster saint Pat Robertson have done their share to foment hate as well.

Phelps Is Deranged But He’s Not A Murderer (As Of This Morning)

But it has to be said we don’t have mobs running around snuffing out lives to demonstrate how spiritual they are.

Today’s events remind me of a controversial riff delivered by Bill Maher a couple of years ago, comparing Muslim extremists to other god fans. “When I make a joke about the Pope,” Maher quipped, “he doesn’t send one of his Swiss Guards in their striped pantaloons to stick a pike in my ass.”

Much as I loathe defending the Pope on any topic, I have to agree with Maher on this one.

YOU’LL SURVIVE

No Big Mike’s Playtime: Fun on the Interwebs today. I’m in too much of a hurry.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Republicans would like to pretend like Congressman Akin’s substitution of superstition for science is a lone problem but it’s not: they’re all magical thinkers, on nearly every issue. They don’t get their answers on climate change from climatologists, they get them from the Book of Genesis. Hence Sharia Law in America is a dire threat, and global warming a hoax.” — Bill Maher

COWBOY UP

After the Aurora, Colorado, shootings at least one Republican (duh!) pol spewed the lunatic opinion that had the patrons of the theater been permitted to carry artillery into the place, they could have shot the shooter up like a swiss cheese and thereby become heroes forever. Oh, and they could have saved a life or two.

Gohmert: “…Was There Nobody That Was Carrying…?”

Because, you know, 19-year-olds attending a midnight showing of a superhero movie in a darkened (natch), packed theater are nothing if not crack shots.

Apparently, that conceit took a hit yesterday when New York cops (who are trained to shoot pistols) opened fire on that guy in the suit who’d killed his former boss at the Empire State Building. So far as we know, the cops did most of the damage to the innocent bystanders, nine of whom caught lead.

One Down, Nine To Go

So, yeah, they killed the guy with the gun but in the process did far more damage than the shooter ever intended to do.

Now, what was that about 19-year-olds with artillery in a darkened theater after midnight?

THE NEWS IS A JOKE

Remember a few years ago how the punditocracy was wringing its hands over the fact that a majority of young people were getting their news from comedy programs like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report“?

Me? I figured standup comedians and improvisational comics couldn’t do much worse interpreting the day’s events than cerebrally flabby blow-hards like Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews.

A Mighty Wind

Anyway, what passes for today’s current affairs debate has devolved to the point where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are elderly statesmen. In fact, if one really wants to get to the meat of a pressing issue these days, one has to click on Cracked.com.

Swear to the god I don’t believe in.

For instance, take a recent Cracked post entitled “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women.”

(And, honestly, could you imagine any broadcast or cable news outlet even touching that topic? With the recent verbal assaults on Sandra Fluke and rape victims, it’s clear — isn’t it? — that too many men hate the hell out of women around this holy land. Someone’s got to be teaching them how to do it!)

Fluke Took A Beating

Post author David Wong (oy, I hope that’s his real name) liberally sprinkles the piece with perceptive gems. He begins by recalling Rush Limbaugh’s attack on Fluke. Limbaugh, Wong rationalizes, “is paid to say outrageous things.” It’s the chimps who follow Limbaugh that scare the bejesus out of Wong: “If you really want to feel all dead inside, you need to listen to what the regular folk were saying.”

He quotes commenters on Right Wing sites who described Sandra Fluke in terms that made it look as though Limbaugh were trying to coo into her ear.

“My Darling Slut”

“Now go to the front page of any mostly male discussion site like Reddit.com and see how many inches you can browse before finding several thousand men bemoaning how all women are gold-digging whores (7,500 upvotes) and how crazy and irrational women are (9,659 upvotes) and how horrible and gross and fat women are (4,000 upvotes). Or browse the ‘Men’s Rights’ section and see weird fantasies about alpha males defeating all the hot women who try to control them with their vaginas.”

No, neither Sean Hannity nor Chris Matthews has touched that one yet.

Wong says movies teach us that it’s a man’s right to be awarded a hot chick after he accomplishes some feat. “When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity…, the hero in ‘Avatar’ gets the hottest Na’vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in ‘Ghostbusters,’ Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE… and so on.

“Hell, at the end of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman,’ Richard Gere walks into the lady’s workplace and just carries her out like he’s picking up a suit at the drycleaner.”

Cleaned And Pressed

Yeesh!

Wong concludes, “From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl…. It’s why every Mr. Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us.”

I doubt if one in twenty Gender Studies classes comes close to hitting that nail on the head.

Want more? Wong’s got it. He quotes from a Right Wing site where men were discussing the merits of then-US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. One man said the Kagan is, “So fugly, I’d say ‘Don’t even look’!!!” Another man agreed: “This person is disgusting and I would never trust ‘it’s’ [sic] opinion on ANYTHING!”

Oh, Why Couldn’t Obama Have Nominated A Babe!

Wong writes that a woman’s “role in society or level of accomplishment doesn’t matter. Even if she’s a damned candidate for the Supreme Court, the female always has a dual role: to function as a person, and to act as decor.

“And we get pissed if she doesn’t do her job…. She owes it to us to be pretty.”

Man.

Wong has plenty more to say about American misogyny. Go there and read the piece for yourself. After doing so, you’ll understand a lot more about men than if you’d studied a hundred “serious” articles in the New York Times Magazine.

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.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Indexed

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

I Fucking Love Science

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.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Twin Lakes Recreation CenterIU Bloomington Cricket Club, Hoosier Cup 2012; 7:30am

City Hall, Showers PlazaFarmers Market; 8am-1pm

Rogers Elementary SchoolKappa Kappa Sigma Garage Sale & Bake Sale; 8am-noon

◗ IU Jordan Avenue Parking GarageFall Bike Auction; 9am

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterMind Training through Pain & Disability series, presented by Ani Choekye; 10:30am

WonderLabNational Dog Day Celebration: Greyhounds; 1-4pm

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures“The Arms of the Shire of Mynydd Seren,” demonstration by members of Bloomington’s Society of Creative Anachronism branch; 1:30-4pm

Monroe County Public LibrarySession 3, Basic Literacy Tutor Training; 1:30-5pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Shane”; 3pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “Hannah Takes the Stairs”; 6:30pm

Ryder Film Series“The Well Digger’s Daughter” at IU Fine Arts; 6:45pm

Oliver Winery, Creekbend Vineyard — Music: Jenn Cristy; evening, call for exact time

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Music: Kevin Bruener; 7-9pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Music: Carrie Newcomer; 7:30pm

Ryder Film Series“Take this Waltz” at IU Woodburn Hall; 8pm

Cafe DjangoMusic: Post Modern Jazz Quartet; 8pm

The Player’s PubMusic: Pet Monkey; 8pm

The Comedy AtticGarfunkel & Oates; 8 & 10:30pm, Both shows sold out

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “The Avengers”; 8pm

Ryder Film Series“The Pigeoneers” at IU Fine Arts; 8:45pm

Bear’s PlaceMusic: Cooked Books, Energy Gown; 9pm

Max’s PlaceMusic: White Lightning; 9pm

The BluebirdMusic: Main Squeeze; 9pm

◗ IU CinemaFilm: “LOL”; 9:30pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Queen & Bowie dance party; 10pm

◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “The Avengers”; 11pm

ONGOING

◗ 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 Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can’t just sit around and make protest albums all your life; eventually it comes to the point where you have to do something.” — Paul Kantner

THE RIGHT’S GLOVES ARE OFF

So, Mitch Daniels went all the way Sunday morning. He appeared on Fox News (where else?) and called for the elimination of public sector unions.

That’s Rich, Mitch

Next week, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney will appear on Fox to call for the elimination of the 50 states. They will be replaced, under the Hair Hell/Mitt Plan, by fiefdoms run by the leading corporations on the Fortune 500 list.

On June 24th, Ron Paul will present his proposal to declare the national deity whichever plutocrat happens to occupy the Richest Man in America spot each particular week.

Sometime in July, Saint Ronald Reagan is expected to arise from the dead, speak briefly on the Fox News Sunday program, and then ascend into heaven.

AROUND TOWN MONDAY

Click.

THE DOLLAR IS DOWN

Prosperity gospel” bunk artist Creflo Dollar harangued his congregation yesterday about his arrest on charges of physically abusing his 15-year-old daughter.

He denied everything, natch. “I want the church family to know that all is well in the Dollar household,” he thundered.

Charged With Battery, Family Violence, & Child Cruelty

Here’s a personal message to Dollar: Your own daughter caused you to be cuffed, printed, and given a room in the Lockup Hotel. Your own daughter. All is not well in your household.

By the way, the holy loon’s wife is named Taffi Dollar. Did a comedy writer come up with this stuff?

Daffy & Taffi

His congregation numbers some 20,000 trusting souls. He is reported to have owned a couple of Rolls Royces. He flies around in a private Gulfstream jet. He lives in a million dollar home in Georgia as well as a $2.5M pad in Manhattan. He tells his sheep that Jesus and his old man want them to be rich, rich, rich, just like him. Then he asks them to send him dough. Loads of it. How much? No one can say precisely. MinistryWatch.com has rated him F in financial transparency.

The New York Post reports that his church rakes in $65M a year.

Oh, and his ministry doesn’t pay any taxes.

Wouldn’t you love to do to him what his daughter says he did to her?

FUNNY

Mad magazine is still at it. (h/t to Brady Haston from Tennessee.)

TEA PARTY-ISTS ARE LOONS BUT THEY’RE SMART

Bill Maher’s right. (Go to the 2:42 mark in the vid.)

He smacked the Occupy Wall Street and street protest crowds Friday.

OWS and the rest of the dance-on-the-pavement bunch who think The Man is afraid of them because they wear bandannas over their faces have to start thinking about real change in a real world.

NATO Protesters In Chicago

Playing cowboys and Indians on the streets may be fun but it gets nothing done.

Let’s start holding Town Hall meetings.

Let’s start registering voters.

Let’s run voter shuttles on election day.

Let’s start packing school boards, county commissions, city councils, and other small legislative bodies

Then let’s focus on the House and the Senate.

Let’s withdraw our money from gargantuan banks.

Let’s start credit unions.

Let’s pack municipal, state, and federal legislative sessions.

Let’s apply real pressure.

Whee! I’m Changing The World!

Here’s Maher: “It seems to be working for the Tea Party. I mean, think of it, three years ago the Tea Party was just a few hundred diabetics angry at blacks and gays for making them feel old. But now they have 62 seats in Congress.”

Believe me, NATO ministers and investment bank CEOs and corporate rapists don’t care who you are under that bandana nor do they care what your placard reads.

Or Your Chest

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” — Ernest Hemingway

Scary? Scary How?

Just a tidbit from Bill Maher’s latest spew:

“If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he already would have done: pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Chaney over to The Hague. Here’s what Obama actually did: he cut taxes and spending…, he didn’t go on a spending spree, he didn’t break up the ‘too big to fail’ banks — they’ve only gotten bigger and fail-y-er. That’s not what liberals wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted…. [U]nder Obama, there’s more drilling than ever. That’s not what environmentalists wanted; that’s what conservatives wanted. Obama spent most of last year conceding the Republican premise that government needed cutting. That’s not what progressives wanted; that’s what the Tea Party wanted. The Dow was at 7949 when he took office, now it’s at 12,000 and over. Corporates profits are at their highest ever. If he’s a socialist, he’s a lousy one. He could not be less threatening if he was walking home with iced tea and Skittles.”

I DUNNO. WHADDA YOU WANNA DO?

Don’t do a single thing today until you visit the Pencil’s GO! Events Listings.

SLEEPLESS IN SUCCESSVILLE

I am a world champion napper. Napping is one of humankind’s finest pursuits. A day spent without a nap is a day wasted.

I’ve been partial to naps ever since I emerged from the womb and yawned.

Imagine how thrilled I was when my cardiologist told me that due to my congenitally malformed heart, I ought to take a nap whenever I feel the need for one. (Almost as giddy as when he told me drinking a glass of wine and eating a piece of chocolate a day would be of great benefit to me — I nearly kissed him.)

Now, I love working at the Book Corner save for one terrible drawback — Margaret, the owner of the place, won’t let me take a nap while I’m on the clock. The tyrant.

Apparently, much of the world seems to be able to get by without naps. Poor souls.

And, if I can believe what I read, there are those who have energy to burn, who are on the go, go, go, all day long, who can get by with only three or four hours of sleep in a night.

Crazy, no?

Do I Have To Do This?

Bill Clinton is one of those people. I suppose any number of presidents and aspirants to that sleepless office have less than the average bear’s need for slumber.

I’ve met dozens of people who are great successes in business and entertainment, many of whom view sleeping at night as a kind of annoyance. They can’t get anything done when they’re asleep, they complain. They’re aghast at the idea of taking a nap.

Man.

It seems as though the real hard-chargers in this mixed-up world, people like Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Wozniak, Jamie Dimon and any Mexican drug cartel boss worth his salt rarely go to sleep.

Who Has Time To Sleep?

Maybe that’s the key to their fabulous success. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump and Lady Gaga are who they are. They’re blazing trails while the rest of us are laying on the sofa.

Oh, sure, they have piles of dough. Big deal. I’ve got my naps.

I was thinking about all this yesterday when I went to go see young Dr. Joe Mackey at the Eye Center. I went in for my one-week follow up exam after eye surgery. The verdict: All is well. That’s pretty much all Mackey said to me.

As always, he was in a mad rush.

I’ll bet he’s one of the people who don’t sleep much. The guy darts from room to room like a crystal meth fiend. He once told me that on his day for surgery he performs 14 or so procedures. Sheesh! The other days of the week he’s peering into and jiggering with the eyes of dozens and dozens of people each day.

If I tried to keep up his pace for fifteen minutes I’d have to take a nap. A good long one — 45 minutes, maybe, or an hour.

What An Exhausting Day!

On the bell curve of human sleep needs, he and I occupy the opposite flanges.

Guys like Mackey, big time sports stars, Hollywood actors and actresses, corporate CEOs, big city mayors — all sorts of high achievers seem to be racing every minute of the day. And their days last from before dawn often until after midnight.

Mackey could have elected to live a nice, relaxed lifestyle. He could have opened his own opthalmology practice in some far off locale where he’d see a couple of patients a day. That’s what I would have done. He could do one eye surgery a week. Maybe one every couple of weeks.

Then he could take a nap.

You’re My Third Patient This Month!

But he chose to go to work for a multi-million-dollar eyeball factory. The Eye Center has dozens of employees, its own surgery center in the basement, enough high-tech, high-buck machines to fill a medium-sized warehouse, and most likely a huge debt load. If you work for old man Grossman and his partners, you’d better be ready to hustle from room to room, checking patients out and sending them home, calling for the next one, chop chop, saying only what you need to say, generating revenue.

This, said Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in ” The Godfather Part II,” is the business we’ve chosen.

We talk a lot about doctors needing a comforting bedside manner these days. We need the doc to hold our hands while she tells us to lay off the pie and the french fries. That’s fine for a general practitioner. They have to lay the oil on us if only to get us to open up and tell them about the ache in our knees or the funny mole on our back.

But specialists like Mackey don’t need to cajole information out of us. They’ve got special skills and devices that can tell them a hundred times more about us than we ever could. Then, when it’s time to act, they wield other devices like Jedi knights, they flutter their fingers over our most fragile organs with a deftness that borders on magic.

Has The Patient Been Prepped?

Mackey shined some tiny beacons into my eyes and muttered notes to an assistant who transcribed his impressions at the keyboard. “Terrific,” he said. “Excellent.” “Very good.” “Healing well.” “Vision better than can be expected.”

I felt flattered, as if somehow I had a hand in the whole procedure. “Yeah,” I said, “I feel great. No complaints.”

Dr. Mackey recoiled slightly from his machine, as if he were surprised I was there. And you know what? He probably was.

He’d been commenting on his own handiwork. He’s a borderline magician and he knows it.

Voila — You Can See!

And the truth is, without that confidence, without that arrogance, he wouldn’t be one-tenth as good as he is.

How big does your ego have to be to carve up another person’s eyeball and hope not only that you don’t blind the poor sap but can actually make him see better?

Answer: Huge.

Mackey pulled his diagnostic machine away and wished me a pleasant weekend. And like that he was out the door. He moved so fast I thought there’d be a sonic boom.

Dr. Joe Mackey is of a different breed than I am. Maybe even a different species. But that’s what makes him so spectacularly good.

Me? I’m gonna take a nap.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Rock and roll music, the music of freedom, frightens people and unleashes all manner of conservative defense mechanisms.” — Salman Rushdie

BOOM

I’ve no doubt the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a fine bunch of lads, serious about their music, and ambitious.

I’m also certain that their fans listen to them late into the night on their iPods and other mp3 devices, and are transported to that special place that only music can take them to.

But are they really Rock and Roll Hall of Famers?

Same question for Guns ‘N Roses.

Guns N’ Roses

Where, I wonder, is the cut off? Who’s the singer/songwriter or band that is fairly good but not quite transcendent enough to be included in the pantheon?

Does anyone even take this the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously?

Apparently, not everyone. Axl Rose and Rod Stewart decided being enshrined in this Valhalla wasn’t worth even hopping a plane into Cleveland to participate in the festivities Sunday night.

The following bands, solo acts, sidemen, and execs made up the 2012 induction list:

  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Donovan
  • Laura Nyro
  • The Small Faces/Faces

Small Faces

  • Beastie Boys
  • The Crickets
  • The Famous Flames
  • The Midnighters
  • The Comets

The Comets (Standing)

  • The Blue Caps
  • The Miracles
  • Freddie King
  • Don Kirschner
  • Cosimo Matassa
  • Tom Dowd
  • Glyn Johns

By my calculations, that’s a grand total of 69 people earning the highest honor, presumably, that can be bestowed upon a rock and roll artist.

Again, that’s 69 people. In one single year.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as of today is bursting at the seams with more than 700 people being given a bust or a plaque or whatever they do at the place to show that the honorees are truly and honestly one-of-a-kind.

Trust me on this — I counted the names and, while I suppose I skipped some and probably double-counted others, I’ll bet the deed to Chez Big Mike that the +700 figure is correct.

Among the honorees since inductions began 26 years ago are Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, ABBA, Miles Davis, Brenda Lee, the Staples Singers, the Bee Gees, Elton John, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, and Ray Charles, the lot of which proves that the term rock and roll has absolutely no meaning at all.

The only people missing from the RNR HoF are the likes of Mantovani, Styx, Bread, Vanilla Ice, Jessica Simpson, Susan Boyle, and Paris Hilton (yes, she recorded an album.)

I am certain Justin Bieber one day will be welcomed into the hallowed hall.

Of course, I’m exaggerating by dragging Styx and Susan Boyle into this thing. It’s really not that any of the aforementioned RNR HoF-ers are necessarily bad or untalented. (Although I’m deadly serious about Justine Bieber being inducted one day.)

It’s just that the whole exercise seems to me to be a Baby Boomer celebration of self. If the Boomers heard it, then it was rock and roll. If you’d made a recording at any time after World War II, you’re a rock and roller and and we have a special palace for you, designed by I.M. Pei and costing $22 to visit.

The Shrine

The name of the place shouldn’t be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum but The Stuff We Listened To (Because We Grew Our Hair Long And Changed The World And Invented Sex And Were The First People Ever To Have Kids) Hall of Fame.

It’s little wonder why succeeding generations loathe the Boomers.

I’m a Boomer and I loathe us.

THE HALL OF BAD

As long as I’m on the topic, here’s my list of some of the worst RNR-era songs of all time:

We Built This City, The Starship — Clearly, by the time this song hit the charts hallucinogens had turned the members of the original Jefferson Airplane into soulless, empty shells.

I Will Do Anything for Love, Meat Loaf — Yes, it’s a bad song but I include it here mainly because one critic wrote of him: “This is the man who acted like he was playing Zeppelin but was singing Cher.”

Cher Lite

Believe, Cher — My late pal Tim said this song was played every night in every gay bar in every city in the world since it was released; he added that if he heard it one more time, he’d take hostages.

Sussudio, Phil Collins — This man defined the 80s almost as much as Ronald Reagan did. And that ain’t good.

Kokomo, The Beach Boys — Brian Wilson was a genius but when he left the Beach Boys they became right wing tools and more boring than being in a coma.

Mickey, Toni Basil — Cheerleaders? At least she was in “Village of the Giants.”

Babe, Styx — The ferryman Charon escorted the souls of the dead down the river Styx to the underworld of Greek mythology, also known as Hades. Or, as we refer to it, hell.

Heart of Rock and Roll, Huey Lewis & the News — How many weddings do you think this was played at?

(Man, this is fun!)

Ebony and Ivory, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney — And…

Say, Say, Say, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney — My least favorite Beatle. Clearly, John Lennon had a beneficial effect on Paul. Pairing him up with MJ and Stevie only brought out the excess saccharin in both parties, leaving a bitter taste in the listener’s mouth.

Critical Mass

Afternoon Delight, Starland Vocal Band — So, it’s a song about getting laid between the hours of noon and six — problem is, it’s neither sexy nor romantic. It’s more like an iced tea mix jingle.

Feelings, Morris Alpert — Insulin, stat!

Winchester Cathedral, The New Vaudeville Band — Dig this: The Beatles released the “Revolver” album in 1966 featuring such amazing songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which might have been the first psychedelic hit and included George Harrison’s overdubbed, backward-tracking guitar work. And the Beach Boys released the single “Good Vibrations,” a follow-up to the “Pet Sounds” album and Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” “Good Vibrations” was described as a “pocket symphony” and could be called the first progressive rock song. But this lump of fewmets won the Grammy award for Best Rock and Roll Recording. That’s downright weird.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree, Tony Orlando & Dawn — Duh.

We Are the World, USA for Africa — If only an asteroid would hit it.

Target: Earth

Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team — This song ruined just about every sporting event throughout the 90s.

Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler — Oh, shut up.

You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone — One question for right wingers like Pat Boone: What’s wrong with birth control?

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers — What in the holy hell does haverin‘ mean?

Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus — When I first heard this, I though this man couldn’t possibly create anything that could make the country suffer more terribly — then he sired Miley.

MMM-Bop, Hanson — Every time I saw this video, all I could think of were all the really creepy old men watching it too.

Convoy, C.W. McCall — Thankfully, no one ever made a hit song about Pet Rocks or Rubik’s Cube or an annoying dance step…, oh, wait….

Macarena, Los Del Rio

I’m Too Sexy, Right Said Fred — Um, er, uh….

Too Sexy?

U Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer — Took a cool Rick James riff and spoiled it.

My Humps, Black Eyed Peas — These people are just wrong.

Morning Train, Sheena Easton — She hit it big with this suburban housewife anthem and then got splashed with Prince luv and became a bad little girl. She has “taken a break from recording” of late.

The Candy Man, Sammy Davis Jr. — Diabetes.

Can I Touch You… There?, Michael Bolton — Ick, no!

I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston — F. Murray Abraham once did a dead-on impression of Whitney singing this song on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot — This man could have been an anesthesiologist and never would have had to use a drug.

Okay, your turn. Either throw in some songs I haven’t thought of or tell me how wrong I am.

The Pencil Today:

THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST?

Bingo from C. Wright Mills: “People with advantages are loath to believe they just happen to be people with advantages.”

C. Wright Mills Photographed By His Wife, Yaroslava

TREE STOLEN. WAIT — WHAT? TREE STOLEN?

The Herald Times reports this morning that vandals stole a tree from Bryan Park.

The tree,  a blue spruce, was donated by a neighbor some 22 years ago. The neighbor was able to look at the tree each morning through his apartment window. He’d nursed the tree through some tough times and considered it his “baby.”

A Typical Blue Spruce

And yesterday he discovered that some punks — apparently — had sawed the whole damned thing down and hauled it away!

If that isn’t bad enough, city tree boss Lee Huss says it’s not terribly unusual. Huss says some twelve trees a year are stolen.

Man. Have I not awakened from my beauty sleep yet and this is just one of those stupid dreams?

COFFEE CHATTER

Did you catch the puff piece on Soma Coffee in the weekend IDS?

If not, here it is.

THE JANUARY SAGA CONTINUES

Chad Carrothers, the big boss at Firehouse Radio, says January Jones resigned as WFHB News Director to, in her words, “spend more time with my family.”

Sheesh. I can’t even make a smart-assed comment about that other than to say any good news hound — and January was a fine news hound — knows that’s what you say when what you really want to say will burn bridges.

Her resignation was, in Chad’s words, “unsolicited and unexpected.”

The news operation at our town’s community radio station undoubtedly will suffer without her even though Assistant News Director Alycin Bektesh is among the sharpest pencils in the drawer and would be a fab choice as January’s permanent replacement.

I’ll redouble my efforts to get January’s take on the split.

THE WATER CYCLE

Go see another comic by Randall Munroe, the brain behind the strip “XKCD.”

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

◗ The radical attorney Jerry Boyle, who’s been running around downtown Chicago for a couple of months now trying to keep the town’s Occupy people out of hot water, posts a Venn diagram of the US Government-Goldman Sachs unholy union.

I’ll have to repro the diagram here. Dig it, and then tell me our elected officials will do their utmost to rein in those cash cowboys.

Man! It’d be like Jack and Bobby Kennedy putting Sam Giancana in charge of the Justice Department.

◗ Delia Chandler of Brighton, UK, reminds us Sunday was the anniversary of the assassination of charismatic Black Panther leader Fred Hampton — in his bedroom — by Chicago cops, the FBI, and members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in 1969.

Don’t be confused by the line in the Democracy Now! teaser calling it the 40th anniversary of the rub out. Amy Goodman‘s piece ran in 2009.

◗ Bloomington video auteur Chris Rall discovers some good clean spiritual fun for the kids.

Bleeding Heartland Roller Girl Shanda Rude takes her life in her hands by blaspheming Oprah. Or at least pointing out — approvingly — that Bill Maher has soiled the name of the most powerful woman on Earth.

Check the vid — if you dare. Maher skewers Oprah’s consumer goods orgy during her farewell week prior to being assumed into heaven.

Me? I didn’t worry about watching it — I’m slated for hell already.

◗ Finally, uber-Cub fan Al Yellon, proprietor of the Bleed Cubbie Blue fansite gushes over the long-awaited election of Ron Santo to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If you’re wondering about my own feelings on Ronnie’s canonization, you need only read my Salon.com piece on his death, almost exactly a year ago.

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