Category Archives: Billy Wilder

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” — Billy Wilder

PRELUDE TO MASS SUICIDE

Hah! And you thought I was being obsessive by devoting so much of this space to those two execrable professional virgins who sing about Rick Santorum.

All I know is this morning’s TV and radio reports on the victories of god’s candidate in yesterday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries feature snippets of the song. It has now earned the imprimatur of the corporate media.

First Love, my dear friends, has arrived.

“I Know What’s Best For Your Uterus!”

And if, by some sick turn of history, the closeted candidate goes into the Republican convention with a chance to unseat putative front runner Willard Romney, the First Love earworm will become a pandemic.

Lady Gaga will wish she’d thought of penning a ballad extolling a rollback of reproductive rights and drooling over the dyed and addled Ronald Reagan.

[Headslap] “I Coulda Had An Earworm Hit!”

KING OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

Just in case you missed it, Willard won the caucuses in Hawai’i and American Samoa last night. Game On!

“Thank You, My Fellow Samoans!”

THE ILLINOIS GUBERNATORIAL RETIREMENT PLAN

I met Rod Blagojevich the day he started campaigning for a seat in the Illinois House back in 1992.

It was a sunny Monday morning and this earnest-looking guy in a nicely pressed suit and a helmet of hair was handing out flyers in front of the Francisco stop on the Ravenswood el line. I looked at the photo on the flyer and then at the guy and said, “Hey, this is you.”

Vote For Me, I’ll Set You Free

He got a big kick out of that. He flashed a smile that almost blinded me. Lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

He told me why he was the best candidate for the office. He seemed so serious and honest and self-effacing. He made a lot of people think that of him over the years.

He told me he was a neighbor. The Blagojeviches lived a block and a half away from me, on Francisco Avenue. I’d pass his house every time I walked down to the convenience store for a newspaper or an ice cream bar. His bungalow was notable in that it was surrounded by a tall, black metal fence, the kind Mayor Daley had given a sweetheart contract to one of his donor/cronies to surround every park in the city with. I guess Blagojevich figured he ought throw a little business that guy’s way as well.

Rod Blagojevich was nothing if not politically astute.

Well, to a point.

He turned awfully stupid when he was taped by federal prosecutors trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat.

Not Free

Today he goes into the slammer for that and other crimes. He’ll serve about 12 years of his 14-year sentence in a minimum security facility outside Denver.

I needn’t recount all his in-office malfeasances and felonies here. Nor will I list all his embarrassing media exploits since being convicted in his impeachment trial in 2009.

I’ll only point this out; it may be his most despicable crime. In October 2002, Rod Blagojevich was the only Illinois Democrat in the US Congress to vote in favor of the authorization of George Bush’s bullshit Iraq war.

Enjoy your twelve year stay in the federal B&B, Rod baby, you earned it.

FOLSOM PRISON BLUES

Dedicated to my ex-state legislator, ex-congressman, ex-governor, and ex-neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

From the movie, “The Apartment,” by Billy Wilder:

C.C. Baxter: “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”

Fran Kubelik: (smiling) “Shut up and deal!”

TRAPPING THE WORLD IN MY WEB

So, I got some news yesterday morning. Good news. Problem is, I don’t know if I should brag or play it cool.

Aw, you know me. I’ll brag.

According to my WordPress.com Site Stats, The Electron Pencil has been viewed by people in the following countries: the US (natch), Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, India, the UAE, and Australia.

The Mighty Electron Pencil Tower, In My Backyard

This being the Internet, I assume at least some of those hits are accidents, people misinterpreting a category listing for porn, or scammers trying to empty my checking account. Still, that’s 17 countries spread across all six habitable continents.

Cool, huh?

ONE LESS WHOOPING CRANE

Some son of a bitch shot another endangered whooping crane dead recently. The incident was reported Friday to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One of only 500 or so of the rare birds left in the US, the crane was found in the Muscatatuck River basin near Crothersville in Jackson County.

The current population of whooping cranes has increased from an alarming low of 21 in 1941. Of the birds now living in the US, some 70 percent are wild; the rest live in zoos and private sanctuaries.

Some whooping cranes can grow as tall as five feet. They graze in marshes and fields, pecking for small animals, fish, berries, and grain.

Adults are brilliant white with black wingtips and red and black masks. A whooping crane liftoff is a spectacular site.

A Whooping Crane In Flight

Did I mention the guy or guys who killed the crane are sons of bitches?

AIN’T THAT AMERICA?

Here is the defining snapshot of our holy land thus far in the infant year, 2012:

Billionaire big-city boss Michael Bloomberg smooches talent-free superstar Lady Gaga at the Times Square ball-dropping ceremony. Moments like these make me think it’s midnight in America, babies.

ROMNEY’S MATE

Look, Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee for president. He’s that party’s only near-centrist and he’s the savviest politician among the lot of them still in the running.

He’s The One

Remember how he dropped out of the 2008 race even though he was running virtually neck and neck with the eventual nominee, John McCain? Romney’s political instincts told him that the 44th Presidency was going to be defined by nothing so much as the nearly moribund economy.

I mean, Barack Obama’s in hot water only because the fallout from the Great Recession still is raining radioactivity upon us. People blame him for service cutbacks and unemployment even though he inherited from his four predecessors the conditions that caused those ills.

Four years ago, Romney figured, Why should I be the one to take that heat?

Smart choice.

So, when the GOP convenes in Tampa in August, that crafty pol will be the one telling the nation how fabulous things will be with him in the White House.

And Romney will hold up the arm of his running mate. But who will that be?

Mark it, dude, it’s going to be the right winger from our worst nightmares. The GOP’s most energetic base still considers Romney to be Abbie Hoffman with an expensive haircut. He’ll have to throw them the veep of their choice as a bone.

I get this creepy feeling we’re going to be longing for the good old days of Sarah Palin next November.

HELLO 2012

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at Chez Pencil. The Loved One and I stayed in and made some homemade pizza vanish.

We watched a couple of movies that, by happy coincidence, contained New Year’s Eve scenes: Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.”

The Little Fellow Awaits His New Year’s Eve Guests

The years, oddly, seem to be getting shorter. I wonder if calendar makers are cutting back during these tough economic times.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

Retro-junkie and film/vid producer Mike Flores posted a link to this old Bob Hope wisecrack last week.

Funny thing is, Hope could have told the joke exactly the same way except substituting “Republican” for “Democrat” and the other half of the country would have roared and said, “How true!”

We all think we’re brilliantly perceptive and the other side is either stupid or mesmerized.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

This is a gem, a clip from a 1965 documentary on Frank Sinatra. Say what you will about him, he was an artist. This clip, in fact, features three artists: Sinatra, of course; the conductor Gordon Jenkins; and the announcer, Walter Cronkite.

Sinatra in the studio was demanding, mostly of himself. His phrasing and articulation were stunning. His ear was almost inhuman in its sensitivity.

Sportswriters talk about superstars who raise the game of their teammates. That’s what Sinatra did for the other musicians in the studio with him.

Well, we didn’t blow ourselves up in 2011. We’re still here and plugging away, albeit clumsily and often stupidly. In that sense, it was a reasonably good year. Let’s see if we can get another thing or two right in 2012.

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