Category Archives: Colton Burpo

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Acting is a nice childish profession — pretending you’re someone else and, at the same time, selling yourself.” — Katharine Hepburn

IMMORTAL

Quickie rec: David “Sonny” Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks speaks at the Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union at 7pm.

He’s the son of Henrietta Lacks, who was the subject of Rebecca Skloot’s bestseller, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” The story of Lacks mere brings to life issues of cancer, medical malpractice, stem cells, race, scientific research, individual dignity — you name it, the book has it.

Sonny Lacks will discuss his mother’s story and how it affected the Lacks family — as well as the rest of humanity — for generations to come. He’ll also sign copies of the book.

ACTORS AND THEIR SCALES

Just a thought: Why do Hollywood actors feel it imperative to lose or gain massive amounts of weight for the roles they play?

I understand it all has to do with what seems to be the illogical evolution of method acting. You know, the discipline that made Marlon Brando (or vice versa) some 60 years ago — live the role and be the part. I get it.

Brando, Getting Into A Part

That’s why pretty boys who are slated to star in cops and robbers dramas ride along with real police officers before shooting begins so that they can pretend they know what it’s like to to carry a badge.

The latest two stars who’ve turned themselves into broomsticks for their roles are Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, who are appearing in “Les Miserables” and “The Dallas Buyers Club,” respectively.

Hathaway & McConaughey, Sans Flesh

This trend goes at least as far back as 1979 when Robert De Niro was working on “Raging Bull.” He packed on approximately three-quarters of a ton of lard, the better to portray Jake LaMotta as a bloated 50-year-old.

A Meaty Role

De Niro won the Oscar for his portrayal but it wasn’t because he jammed cream puffs into his face for several months before production began. De Niro arguably was the best actor of his generation. He’d have won the Academy Award if he’d never even touched a bag of Cheetos®.

Now, Hathaway and McConaughey are capable actors, although neither breathes De Niro’s rarified air. I’m willing to bet they’d be convincing in their parts no matter what size their waistlines are.

A lot of this has to do with what we like to think of as reality. In a nation where significant portions of the population believe in angels, UFOs, ghosts, and three-year-old kids going to heaven and coming back to tell about it, yet don’t believe in man-made climate change, the movie-going public demands “realism” in its entertainment. We’re all mixed up.

So, I suppose Hollywood actors are giving us what we want. Which is heaping piles of bullshit.

It reminds me of a famous, if apocryphal, bit of acting advice offered by Laurence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman, his costar in “The Marathon Man.” Hoffman, the story goes, stayed awake and ran himself ragged for several days before shooting a key scene. Olivier asked him why he was putting himself through hell. Hoffman replied that he wanted to be convincing.

“Try acting, dear boy,” Olivier said. “It’s much easier.”

To Which Hoffman Replied….

SPEAKING OF BRATS GOING TO HEAVEN

How many times do I have to harp on this, people?

The latest New York Times Non-Fiction Trade Paperback Bestseller list is topped by “Proof of Heaven,” and “Heaven Is for Real.” Again.

The Burpos, On Earth

It’s the second week in a row the two fever dream retellings have ranked one and two on the list. (And let’s leave aside the obvious problem: These books are not nonfiction.)

What’s going on? Are the fundamentalist Christians who voted against Barack Obama trying to console themselves by fantasizing about a fab afterlife?

And another thing. What’s with the debate team topic titles? Are these people trying to convince us?

Or themselves?

HEAVENLY CRASH

Here’s a trivia bit that’ll make you a hit at the next holiday party.

The following bands and acts have recorded songs entitled, simply, “Heaven”:

  • All Saints (natch)
  • Better Than Ezra
  • Bryan Adams
  • Carly Simon
  • Hanson
  • Ice Cube
  • Jamie Foxx
  • Joan Armatrading
  • John Legend
  • Psychedelic Furs
  • Simply Red
  • Suicidal Tendencies
  • Talking Heads
  • The Rascals
  • The Rolling Stones

Heaven?

  • Uncle Kracker
  • Warrant

Want more? Okay. Here’s a list of selected movies with the word heaven in the title:

  • “Kingdom of Heaven”
  • “Just Like Heaven”
  • “Between Heaven and Earth”
  • “Pennies from Heaven”
  • “Days of Heaven”
  • “Heaven and Earth”

  • “All Dogs Go to Heaven”
  • “Far from Heaven”
  • “Heaven Can Wait”
  • “Heaven Only Knows”
  • “Heaven with a Gun”
  • “Heaven”
  • “My Blue Heaven”
  • “Back Door to Heaven”
  • “7th Heaven”
  • “Gates of Heaven”
  • “Chance at Heaven”
  • “All This and Heaven, Too”
  • “East Side of Heaven”
  • “Heaven Is a Playground”
  • “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison”

What Could Steve Martin Have Been Thinking?

Believe it or not, some of these films are good. Many of them, though, are dogs. Perhaps the bow-wow-iest is “My Blue Heaven” in which Steve Martin tries to play a “Goodfellas”-type mobster for laughs. I love Steve Martin but he made his biggest mistake by simply opening up this script.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallGuest Recital: Jonathan Biggers on organ; 12:15pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Art MuseumNoon Talk Series: “The Light Fantastic,” Presented by Rob Shakespeare; 12:15-1:15pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallArtist Diploma Recital: Nathan Giem on violin; 5pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — “Posters from the Revolution: The Anthropology of Graphic Arts in Cuba,” Gerrie Casey talks about her collection; 5pm

WORKSHOP ◗ Monroe County Public Library, Auditorium — “Serve IT: Get Engaged!” Program to help non-profits use social media; 5:30pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallSchool of Music Lecture Series: Steven Zohn on “Norality, German Cultural Identity, and Telemann’s Faithful Music Master“; 5:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, Public viewing through the main telescope; 6:30pm

DISCUSSION ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumDavid Lacks, son of Henrietta Lacks (subject of the bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”), speaks about his family’s experiences; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Bloomington High School NorthFall Concert, Performed by the BHSN Concert Bands; 7-8:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — SOLD OUT: “On the Road“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center Recital HallSenior Recital: Anastasia Falasca on violin; 7pm

PERFORMANCE ◗ Unity of Bloomington ChurchAuditions & rehearsal for Bloomington Peace Choir; 7-8:30pm

ROUNDTABLE ◗ IU Ballantine Hall — “Elections 2012: What Went Right, What Went Wrong, and Where To From Here?“; 7:15pm

STAGE ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, in the Rose FirebayDrama, “The Rimers of Eldritch“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubAfro Hoosier International; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn HallMedieval Studies Movie Series: “Ostrov (The Island)“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterSymphony Orchestra, David Effron, conductor, Gulrukh Shakirova, piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallContemporary Vocal Ensemble, Dominick DiOria, conductor, Mason Copeland, organ; 8pm

DANCING ◗ Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallDoctoral Recital: Daniel Bubeck, countertenor; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdThe Personnel; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopMaserati, The Young, Majeure; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits through December 1st:

  • “Essentially Human,” By William Fillmore
  • “Two Sides to Every Story,” By Barry Barnes
  • “Horizons in Pencil and Wax,” By Carol Myers

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits through November 16th:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf
  • Small Is Big

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits through December 20th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners
  • Gender Expressions

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibits:

  • The War of 1812 in the Collections of the Lilly Library“; through December 15th
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can have a revolution wherever you like, except in a government office; even were the world to come to an end, you’d have to destroy the universe first and then government offices.” — Karel Čapek

DISTAFF DEMS

So, Julie Thomas is the Dems’ choice to replace Mark Stoops on the November ballot.

Julie Thomas

Stoops, you may recall, is replacing Vi Simpson on the ballot for her state senate seat. Simpson is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with John Gregg. Thomas aims to swap her Monroe County Council seat for Stoops’ Monroe County Board of Commissioners post. Got all that?

It’s the Democratic Shuffle.

Anyway, the Thomas move only adds to the local Democrats’ big women’s push this year. Make sure you read my piece about Dem women in this month’s Ryder magazine.

THE RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED!

Don’t you just love petty tyrants?

Some officious little dweeb in London cut the power as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello played and sang in Hyde Park Saturday night. Arguably the two biggest rock stars in the world, Springsteen and McCartney have been jonesing to jam together for years.

A Dream Come True

They finally got their chance at the end of Springsteen’s big show last night. Right in the middle of “Twist and Shout,” though, the aforementioned noodge gave the order for the plugs to be pulled.

Seems the Westminster Council has a hard and fast new rule that outdoor concerts at Hyde Park must be completed by 10:30pm. It was 10:45pm when London’s Big Hall Monitor cut the boys off.

Sorta funny no? If only London’s bosses had been such sticklers when the LIBOR scandal was brewing.

NO SIR

BTW: You’ll note I did not call the former Beatle “Sir” Paul McCartney.

I won’t do it. Not now or ever.

There’s no place in my world for phoney-baloney titles of “nobility.”

My Blood Is Quite Blue

This holy land’s “Founding Fathers” had no use for Britain’s caste society either. After all, we had our own system of oppression and disenfranchisement to nurture.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Flavorwire.com points out a new website modeled after Rotten Tomatoes called I Dream Books.

RT, as you know, is a film criticism aggregator that canvasses movie reviews from around the nation and rates each picture based on some algorithm the geeks in charge have conjured. Now IDB does the same thing, only with tomes.

So, I clicked on the first title that came up on the IDB page. It turns out to be that risible Christian fever dream, “Heaven Is for Real.”

Do I have to explain this criminal misuse of a significant portion of our nation’s forests to you? Everybody should know by now it’s about some reverend whose three-year-old kid undergoes an emergency appendectomy and emerges from the surgery with a hair-brained tale that he’d died and gone to heaven but for some odd reason was kicked back out and his soul returned to his Earthly body.

The most gullible among the populace take this as de facto proof that their religious fantasies are the real deal.

Get this: IDB gives this aggressive insult to our intelligence an 80 percent positive rating! The review the site features reads, in part, “‘Heaven Is for Real’ will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.”

Honestly, people. A three-year-old explaining the nature of existence to us?

The Time-Space Continuum

To the best of my knowledge, three-year-olds are those members of society who defecate in their pants, throw tantrums when they’re denied any more cookies, often believe monsters are hiding under their beds, and who occasionally display their penises in misguided attempts to entertain us. Because we realize three-year-olds, to put it politely, aren’t fully all there, we don’t throw them in jail for the latter infraction.

Why, then, would millions of people take as gospel some crackpot tale such a kid would tell his old man, who no doubt asked a lot of leading questions to draw said nonsense out of him?

And we let these people vote?

I can’t imagine that four of every five book reviewers in the country think this drek is hot stuff. I’ll be watching IDB closely to see if the bugs in its algorithm are worked out.

THE GOOD DOCTOR

Well, one guy now knows whether Colton Burpo and his daddy-o made up their little story or not: Dr. Conger, a terrific guy from Lima, Ohio.

That’s all I’ve ever known him as — Dr. Conger.

Clyde Conger

He kept a home here in Bloomington as well as his Ohio digs. He was an insatiable reader and would make the trek to the Book Corner every month or so to stock up on hardcovers.

Dr. Conger was an anesthesiologist. He wasn’t a rich man but he and his wife were comfortable. He was no fan of the greedy bastards who hold sway in these Great United States, Inc. today.

Whenever I’d see his wife pull up in front of the store in their minivan, I’d dash out to help him walk the few steps to our front door. Dr. Conger suffered from diabetes and the resultant pain in his feet tortured him.

I’d sit him in one of our Franklin chairs, and we’d talk about the issues of the day as well as new books. I’d mention a title that might interest him and he’d say, “Would you get me that? I think I’ll buy it.”

After a half hour or so, the pain in his dogs would get to be too much and he’d struggle to stand in preparation to go outside and wait for his wife, who was shopping around the square. The two of us would wait for his wife to pull back up. I’d ask him why he just didn’t call her and he’d always reply that he didn’t want to cut in on her shopping time.

Old man Dr. Conger was a swell bird. He died a few weeks ago.

No depictions of heaven ever allude to books being there. I get the feeling Dr. Conger wouldn’t care too much for that kind of heaven.

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

TC Steele State Historic Site“Sunday at Home: An Old Fashioned Celebration,” with fun, crafts, vocal and harpsichord music, hand-cranked ice cream and more; 1-4pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It With You”; 1pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Musical, “Footloose”; 2pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: David Linard Trio; 4pm

The Player’s PubThe Reacharounds; 6pm

Bryan ParkOutdoor concert, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra with Charles Latshaw, conductor; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series, “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 7pm

Gerhard Richter And His Piece, “Abstract Painting (911-4)”

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Various performances by members of the Jacobs School faculty; 8pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “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:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ 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 — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

Today: Sunday, November 13, 2011

POETIC JUSTICE

Penn State lost. Good. May they never win another game again.

Joe Pa’s Statue Being Molested By Penn State Fanatic

PONY UP

Indiana University employees are raising a stink about having to pay a larger share of their health insurance premiums, according The Herald Times (log-in required).

Some 800 IU wage slaves have signed an online petition asking for more time to mull the huge increase. IU honchos say the increase is set in stone, so tough luck, kiddies.

The hike will hit IU workers who make about $10 an hour hardest. The university did agree to a slim wage increase for this school year ($1.5-3 percent) but additional expenses like the health insurance premium pretty much offset it.

I hate to be a nudge (well, alright, I love to be a nudge) but I just want to remind the world that Big Chief Michael A. McRobbie is enjoying his hefty pay raise this year. The school’s pres is making $533,120 in 2011-12, an increase of 12 percent over lost year’s paltry sum.

Higher Premium? No Prob.

Jes sayin’.

LOOSE NUKES SINK WORLDS

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m supposed to villify Senator Richard Lugar  but I can’t help but thinking he isn’t all bad.

You know, we progressives are mandated by blood oath to abhor all Republicans. They are, after all, the spawn of Adolf and Eva, but — silly me — I’m just a contrarian.

Commentator Mike Leonard in today’s H-T heaps kudos on the 79-year-old running for his sixth term in the Senate for a piece of legislation Lugar co-sponsored 20 years ago. Lugar and Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat, successfully pushed through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program Act in 1992.

The bill authorized this holy land to spend tons of dough to help the nations of the former Soviet Union find and destroy nuclear weapons that had been positioned within their borders. The Soviet Union, natch, wasn’t the most open of hegemonists when it planted the big bangers within such wild spots as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

The Act led to the destruction of at least 7500 nukes as well as thousands of delivery systems and tons of fissionable materials.

Here Is Soviet Gift To You, Mr. and Mrs. America

For you younger readers, the Act was the result of something we used to refer to as “bipartisan cooperation,” a quaint concept that means Democrats and Republicans working together.

I know, weird, huh?

LOVE TRUMPS POLITICS

Sam Allison is quitting his job as Monroe County Board member.

I met Sam on election night, 2010, when his fellow Dems across the nation were dropping like flies under the onslaught of the Me Party-ists. Even Bloomington congressman Baron Hill got fired by the voters that sad night.

Not Slick, Just Decent

Allison had been the County Recorder and was running for the first time for County Council. He and his lovely bride hung around the Democratic campaign headquarters on 3rd Street. Gloom descended upon the place as results came in. The figures showed Allison winning early in the night, though. Too bad his moment of triumph came in what was essentially a funeral parlor.

Sam Allison seemed a decent and humble man. Those qualities, apparently, didn’t hinder his political career. Now his lovely bride has scored a big new gig in Missouri so Sam, faithful mate that he is, is following her.

Good luck.

I’M COMIN’, ELIZABETH!

Heaven Is For Real” is still the number one paperback bestseller in this holy land, according to the New York Times Review of Books.  Next week will mark a full year since it hit the list. That ain’t all: Somehow, the hardcover version is still among the top movers in that category, sitting at number 26 this week.

It’s The Big One!

“Heaven…” recounts young Colton Burpo’s trip to paradise after his appendix burst when he was three years old. The book was written by his father, Todd Burpo, an evangelical pastor from Nebraska. Old man Burpo’s co-writer was the controversial Lynn Vincent who co-penned another other work of bizarre fantasy, “Going Rogue,” with Sarah Palin.

The book is joined on the coffee tables of the willfully credulous by “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” at number 17. This one is the tale of a six year old kid who falls into a two-month coma after a car accident. The kid, of course, comes as close as can be to joining the putative creator of the universe in his palatial digs but somehow finds the strength to come back to Earth because, you know, any place with the Taliban and Donald Trump in it has to be preferable to eternal paradise.

Screw Heaven; I’d Rather Be Around This Guy!

Anyway, this whole I’m-precious-enough-to-be-brought-to-the-doorstep-of-god thing got me to searching the interwebs for other fascinating folks who’ve seen the bright light. Sure enough, Hollywood is filled with ’em!

One website that finds the whole phenomenon credible lists the following souls as having entered the tunnel and coming back:

● Liz Taylor

● Sharon Stone

● Gary Busey

● Larry Hagman

● Erik Estrada

● Burt Reynolds

● Ozzy Osbourne

● and the King himself, Elvis Presley

So, you tell me, who ya gonna believe, a bunch of dumb scientists or Erik Estrada?

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