Category Archives: Boxcar Books

Hot Air

Winter’s Winning

Okay, things are getting weird now. WFIU’s Annie Corrigan told me this morning that the temp was -11º. So when I went outside to let Steve and Sally the Dogs out, I figured I’d freeze my delicate Fred Flintstone toes off.

Didn’t happen.

In fact, the air outdoors didn’t feel all that cold. It felt more like 11 degrees above zero.

Aha, I thought, Annie’s reading the temp wrong. Or something. Admittedly, 11 degrees above is not the condition under which you’d start thinking bikinis and fishing poles. But it is a 22-degree shift which, at any temp, is significant. I dashed back in to check the NOAA’s National Weather Service website. Lo and behold, the feds said we were sitting at -12º, a precious degree colder than Annie said.

What’s happening? Am I — shudder — starting to knuckle under to winter?

Antarctica

Ahead?

It’s depressing I tell you. Well, even more depressing than I’ve been thanks to this winter that began, um — when was it, back in September?

The Loved One snapped at me the other day in response to yet another of my ranting diatribes regarding this second yucky winter in a row. “Just get used to it!” she said.

Can it be? Am I getting used to it? Pardon me while I cry.

Humans Write

You and I both know this thriving, throbbing megalopolis is chock-full of writing talent. Do you need proof? Then hie down to Boxcar Books, Sunday for the Writers Guild at Bloomington‘s monthly First Sunday reading.

This month’s featured scribes include Amy Cornell, Antonia Matthew, and Gabriel Peoples.

  • Amy Cornell is one of the many good local souls involved in helping Monroe County Corrections Center inmates read and write. She leads writing circles there. Her work includes poetry, creative non-fiction, novels, blog posts, book reviews, and short stories.
  • Antonia Matthew has led the writing group Five Women Poets for years. She’s written, among other things, about her mother’s experiences with Alzheimer’s and her own time as a child in World War II England.
  • Born in Detroit, Gabriel Peoples lives in both Bloomington and College Park, Maryland, where she’s working toward her PhD in American Studies at the University of Maryland. She’s focused her studies on Black Performance Studies & Visual Culture.

Sounds like a compelling, varied line-up, no? Go there and support these writers.

Writer

Other than giving her a fat paycheck, the greatest thing you can do for a writer is listen to her read her stuff. Boxcar is at 408 E. 6th St. The readings begin at 3pm and run through 5pm.

The Mind Of A Leader

So, Rahm Emanuel goes before the voters of my beloved hometown Chicago today seeking a second stint as the object of hundreds of thousands of people’s rage, disappointment, and contempt.

Why anyone would want to be a president, a state governor, or the mayor of a city is beyond me. Some suggest such ambitious folks are, well, sort of off in the head. Several psychological observers have even advanced the notion that presidents and prime ministers are more sociopathic than not.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? What kind of person says, “Yeah, I want to be the most powerful human being on the planet, possessing the full capability to incinerate hundreds of millions — nay, billions — of my fellow human beings with the press of a button.”

Honestly, when The Loved One says it’s my turn to let the dogs out, I feel crushed and oppressed by the responsibility. “Do I hafta?” I whine.

Mayors must juggle the wants and demands of a seemingly endless parade of satisfaction seekers. And to do this, those mayors must slice up an ever-shrinking pile of dough. No matter what Rahm Emanuel or Bill De Blasio chooses to do, he’s going to make a lot of people mad. Not just mad as in angry; mad as in, well, mad.

Rage

A quartet of men want to be Bloomington’s next mayor. Two of them have an honest chance. By a couple of years after the election, the victor will be both the most hated and loved man in this city of some 75,000. For my money, Darryl Neher and John Hamilton are capable, nice, good guys. But, let’s be frank, they’ve both got to be crazy to want the job.

Let’s hope the next mayor’s skull doesn’t explode when, at some point in 2016, his wife says it’s his turn to let the dogs out.

Summer Soft

No, no! I won’t let winter win!

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

“And our governments are very much the same.” — Marjane Satrapi

THE RIGHT CHOICE

WFHB moves glacially when it comes to hiring people. Sheez, it took the board six months to figure out Chad Carrothers was the person for the job of General Manager, even as he was whipping the station into shape operationally and financially as the Acting Boss.

So, the two-month wait to give the News Director position to Alycin Bektesh doesn’t seem so, well, endless.

Bektesh & Pal

Yep, the former Assistant News Director/Acting News Director now gets to print up permanent business cards and I can’t think of a more deserving soul in the industry.

I wrote the news with Bektesh when she first joined the station as a volunteer a year ago. I thought I was the hottest pepper in the salad until she sat next to me. Alycin was aggressive, confident, knowledgeable, and damned good.

Perhaps most amazing of all was her ability to endure my incessant chatter and ribbing. Not only that, she gave it all back and then some.

Look out Chicago and New York. This chick’ll be nosing around Bloomington only for a precious short time.

INNER BEAUTY?

Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the year 2012?

The IDS reports this morning that an Indiana University junior named Brianna McClellan was tabbed Miss IU Saturday night.

The campus pageant is one of the stepping stones to the Miss Indiana and Miss America contests.

Miss America?

Miss America: A Crowning Intellectual And Public Service Achievement

I mean, there are a lot of dumbass things going on in this holy land — the Republican primary reality show for one — but I had no idea we still had beauty pageants.

Oh, the participants in these things caution us not to call them beauty pageants anymore. Heavens no.

If not, then why can’t I compete in them?

I’ll tell you why: The sight of me in an evening gown would sour the audience on life permanently.

Anyway, last year’s Miss Indiana University, Jaclyn Fenwick, turned over her tiara, sash, bouquet of flowers, riding crop, and velvet handcuffs to Brianna, at which point the new Miss IU held her hand to her cheek in shock, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a gesture mandated by law in such cases.

McClellan, Shocked (photo by Kirsten Clark/IDS)

Fenwick told the IDS that the Miss America thing is important because it provides scholarships to young women.

McClellan said, “I just want it to be known that it’s not a pageant. It’s not a thing about beauty…. It’s the inner beauty and scholarship.”

McClellan added that it’s really volunteerism and community service that count most in the competition.

I suppose it’s only a coincidence that McClellan and Fenwick and the runners up all possess extraordinary conventional physical attributes.

I’ll believe McClellan’s and Fenwick’s unsolicited protestations the day a 250-pound woman who wears horn-rimmed glasses and who volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank or Boxcar Books wins the title.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This feature has been absent in recent weeks mainly because FB-ers have been unimaginative.

They sure made up for lost time last night and this morning.

So let’s see what the social media’s brightest minds are up to — and remember, this is a no spamily, no brattle zone.

Rich Lloyd, professor of complicated stuff at Vanderbilt University, read an op/ed piece in the New York Times that’s relevant to the above discussion on beauty pageants.

The author of the piece, historian Stephanie Coontz, points out that women today earn nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, leading some observers to wonder if they’ll have a hard time finding husbands.

After all, men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses, right?

Wrong, Coontz says. That’s old hat. Read the piece and find out why.

◗ Radical lawyer Jerry Boyle, whose hands are going to be filled when the G-8 and NATO big boys visit Chicago this spring, found the fabulous quote that appears at the top of this page. It’s from graphic novel author Marjane Satrapi.

I can’t stress enough how cool Satrapi is. Her breakthrough work was the double-volume “Persepolis” saga, detailing her upbringing in Iran in the 1970s and ’80s. She personally witnessed two sets of iron hands — those of both the shah and the ayatollahs’ theocracy — squeeze the life out of that nation.

Satrapi suspects that the Iranians and Americans have a lot more in common than we’d care to admit.

Rainbo Club big shot Ken Ellis reminds us that today is Peter Tork‘s birthday.

If you have to ask who Peter Tork is, you’ll never understand.

◗ And Bloomington’s own Betty Greenwell features a pic of the best Valentine’s Day treat yet on her FB home page.

ALISON

Okay, the spelling’s wrong and the lyrics have nothing to do with her, but this song is for Alycin Bektesh. And you, reader.

 

 

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” — Christopher Morley

BARRY’S OKAY — JUST OKAY

I have no idea why but I feel I must defend Barack Obama these days — tepidly, of course, because his presidency has been rather ho-hum, for my money.

For all the excitement he generated among the commie, pinko, homo, abortion-crazed, tax-happy, put-the-white-man-in-jail, apologize-for-America, femi-nazi, Manchurian-candidate-cabalist population of this otherwise holy land when he was merely candidate Obama, Boss Obama’s reign has been pretty much a let down.

Every Right Winger’s Wet Nightmare

Many of my lefty pals feel their blood pressure reach quadruple digits when the current POTUS is mentioned. The radical lawyer Jerry Boyle goes so far as to call him a “traitor” (to the left‘s cause — not, as the other side would have it, to the nation.)

How can a guy be a traitor when he was never part of the club?

If anybody had paid a bit of attention to how he voted when he was Senator Obama, they’d know he was, in truth, the biggest Rockefeller Republican since that very man who passed from this vale of tears at the age of 70 while banging his secretary on her desk back in 1977. (Yeah, yeah, I know — allegedly.)

The Original Rocky (Bust In The Senate Gallery)

Anyway, as I’ve pontificated before, perhaps my happiest day as a voter and taxpayer in this greatest nation in the history of our corner of the Solar System was when Barack Obama was elected president. Not that I expected him to outlaw guns in cities, care for the sick, tend to the poor, pull the soldiers out of Iraq and Afghanistan the next day, and order the summary executions of Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon, but because the election of a (half) black man demonstrated that these United States had grown up a bit since, oh say, the 1970s.

That and the fact that Obama wasn’t George W. Bush nor was he craven enough to have chosen as his running mate a MILF-y knucklehead from Alaska.

Every Right Winger’s Wet Dream

The fact that Obama has surrounded himself with so many unindicted felons from the Goldman Sachs mob makes me want to retch. Then again, I never expected him to name among his advisers Dennis Kucinich, Howard Zinn, and Rachel Maddow.

So, that’s my roundabout way getting to the fact that I am categorically, incontrovertibly, without question or fail, voting for Barry come November. As long as nobody better comes along.

You think I want to see Roe v. Wade overturned? And all those Wall Street baboons given free reign? The privatization and profit-ization of basic human services? The digging for oil in every citizen’s backyard? Rush Limbaugh smiling?

Hell no, babies. I’m a staunch(ish) Obama man from here on out.

TRUTH — REALLY

Bloomington author Julia Karr waltzed into the Book Corner Monday, carrying the galley copy of her forthcoming book, “Truth.”

It’s the follow-up to her successful 2011 release, “XVI,” a murder chiller set in a dystopian future.

‘Truth” will go on sale a week from tomorrow with a book release party Friday, January 20, at Boxcar Books.

Julia Karr

Karr brought in “Truth” for our town’s Book Babe R.E. Paris, who’s reviewing it for Ryder magazine.

I was chatting with another customer at the time, a man whom I don’t know. When I told him he was in the presence of a big time pen lady and then told him about all the other successful authors in town, he said, “No kidding? I had had no idea this was such a center for authors.”

It is, pal. It is.

BLOOMINGTON’S BOOK BABE LOOKS BACK AT 2011

Speaking of R.E. Paris, I mentioned yesterday that she looks at the year in publishing in the current issue of the Ryder. Peter LoPilato, the Ryder’s majordomo, has been kind enough to let us run selected pieces from the magazine in these precincts.

The Ryder

So, let’s take a look at R.E.’s retrospective, no?

2011: The Year in Books, by R.E. Paris

In which I discuss some interesting titles from 2011, note others, and leave out yet many more worthy of mention among the hundreds of thousands of books published last year.

Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt, (Norton), is a very readable history of the intellectual inheritance of the Renaissance. Greenbaltt shows that history ties the modern world to the classical one…. read more

TRUE FAITH

New Order was born of Joy Division after that band’s lead singer committed suicide. Joy Divison had led the post-punk movement in the late 1970s and New Order took the sound to a new level with its incorporation of then-new electronic technology.

And, BTW, New Order has a bit of a Bloomington connection. The video for “Round & Round” featured the face of super-model and recent local divorcee Elaine Irwin (go to the 3:15 mark.)

Elaine Irwin Decorates New Order’s “Round & Round” Video

Anyway, here’s “True Faith”:

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