Category Archives: Dan Savage

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Speaking In Tongues

I’m on a roll here, as today’s topic again touches on female plumbing and architecture.

Loyal readers will recall that on X-mas day, I mused on the difficulties several media outlets might have experienced when confronted with the need to employ nomenclature — and a more casual, if not downright common variety thereof — for the double-X-chromosomed set’s nether regions.

Phew! Have you penetrated my faux-intellectual obfuscations yet? Don’t worry; I can hardly tell what I’m referring to.


A Delightful Georgia O’Keeffe Image

Anyway, I snickered with schadenfreudal glee over what I imagined to be NPR voices’ discomfort with having to say the words Pussy Riot.

Lo and behold, the usually-stuffed shirts at CNN descended into a discussion of a certain pastime enjoyed by connoisseurs of, shall we say, the eroto-culinary arts last night. (h/t to Wonkette.)

Anderson Cooper and Dan Savage discussed the top news stories of 2013. When Cooper asked Savage what the funnest scandal of the year was, Savage immediately cited Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s celebrated forays into drugs and hookers.

Said Savage: “I love a good cunnilingus joke on the evening news.”

Now, most TV anchors might either pretend Savage never said any such thing or the more delicate of them might simply faint. But Cooper felt compelled to relate this story about his mother (the late Gloria Vanderbilt):

My mom once wrote a romance memoir about men she’d dated, and I use that term loosely, and she described one guy she was currently dating — my mom was 85 at the time — as the Nijinsky of cunnilingus. And she made me proofread the book.

“My mom“?

As in, My mom made brownies for my Cub Scout pack one afternoon, or, My mom made sure I always wore earmuffs in the winter.

Even Tricky Dick Nixon, when describing the woman who’d given birth to him (while, it should be added, he was drunk as a skunk) could muster only enough familiarity to say “My mother was a saint.”

Not My mom was a saint. My mother.

Yet here’s Anderson Cooper musing about his own sainted mother’s orgasmic calisthenics, referring about said activities as if he was Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

My mom.

I get the feeling that merely contemplating my own mother engaging in such a refreshing pursuit would cause my skull to come apart at the seams.

Skull Sutures

My Coconut Would Disintegrate Into 10 Pieces

BTW: Fox News bloviators have yet to comment on Cooper & Savage’s colloquoy. Probably because none of them knows what the word cunnilingus means.

The Pencil Today:


“It gets better.” — Dan Savage


Illustrator and comix genius Mike Cagle points out a fascinating story of revenge in the rural town of West Branch, Michigan.

Well, the folks pulling it off will soft-soap it as a teaching moment for the town’s teens. I know better.

Here’s the dope: the kids at Ogemaw Heights High School voted a sophomore girl named Whitney Kropp to the homecoming court for this weekend’s festivities. Kropp was shocked by the vote because 1) she hadn’t run for the honor, and 2) she’s the kind of outsider kid that ABC-TV used to make after-school specials about.

See, the kids had all gotten together to vote for Kropp as a prank. Ha ha ha, she’s the geeky chick with the multi-colored hair and she wears black much of the time and she’s pretty much a loner. In other words, she’s the girl I would have had a crush on in high school, but that’s me.

Whitney Kropp

To the vast majority of this holy land’s fat and arrogant youth, she’s a joke.

Ergo, her schoolmates voted her in as the sophomore queen so they could point at her and laugh. Which they did.

Her sophomore boy counterpart even quit his post on the homecoming court because, reportedly, he was loathe to to be seen walking arm in arm with such a nerdgirl.

Kropp, according to her mother, cried in her bedroom the night after the vote was announced.

The town’s elders got wind of this whole deal and mobilized for action. They created a Facebook page to support Kropp. They’re going to flood the football stadium Friday night, wearing her fave color (orange), and cheering their lungs out when she is introduced on the field.

They’re also going to pay for her gown, hair, makeup, and all the other froufaraw that surrounds such a teen beauty pageant. They’re calling themselves “Team Whitney.”

The story has gone national, natch. Kropp has appeared on the Today Show and her Facebook support page had 36,146 likes as of 7:50 this morning.

So, now, young Whitney will be the star of homecoming weekend. The game Friday and the big dance Saturday night will be bookend acts for the Whitney Show.

That’ll show ’em, say the town’s elders. The idea being, those mean kids will learn a lesson.

I doubt it.

Remember, it’s adults doing the “teaching” here. And what do adults know about popular girls versus geek chicks?

No, it’s more likely the adults are trying to screw the little bastards at their own game — which I endorse wholeheartedly.

In fact, if the adults really, really want to get a message across to the kids of that school, they might employ some more, shall we say, persuasive means.

Lemme tell you a quick story. When I was very young, I was the kid who was bullied and ridiculed in school. Being a nascent genius, I came to the conclusion after years of having my books strewn all over the street and being pushed into piles of dogshit that my best defense against such treatment would be an offense.

I had to leave my first elementary school, thanks to the bullies. In my new school, I decided, I wouldn’t be the bullied. I’d start leading the pack in bullying somebody else. Better him or her than me, right?

This worked for about three years until I was a freshman in high school. One of my classmates was an overweight, effeminate guy named Bobby. I zoomed in on him, making his life a holy hell. I never missed a chance to snap him with a wet towel in the gym locker room. I mocked his whiny voice. I led groups of guys in tying his street clothes into knots while he was off in the shower room.

I was a rotten little bastard to Bobby.

But at least it was Bobby and not me, I’d think on those rare occasions when I felt bad about what I was doing.

One day, one of the biggest, toughest guys in school stopped me coming out of the shower room. He was a lineman on the varsity football team. He pulled his ham-sized fist back and unleashed a punch that, when it collided with my sternum, felt as though I’d been hit by a Tomahawk missile.

I collapsed on the tile floor. He stood over me and said, “Why don’t you leave the poor guy alone?”

It was an epiphany. That such a symbol of maleness and accomplishment could stand up for an overweight, effeminate underclassman impresses me to this day. I vowed at that moment — before even lifting myself up off the floor — that I’d never pick on a kid again.

Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to defending the defenseless. Since then, I’ve identified with everybody who’s ever gotten bullied.

Who knows? Maybe I would have come to the same conclusion had that big football lineman simply talked to me and not tried to put his fist through my chest cavity.

All I know is, for the next couple of weeks, every time I ran my fingers over the lump on my chest, I remembered his words. And today, I don’t even need to feel the swelling to hear those words.


Get yourself over to The Venue Fine Art & Gifts to hear IU’s Ross Gay read his poetry tonight at 5:30.

I generally shy away from poetry but Ross is the real deal. This guy can throw around the ink and the meters with the best of them.

Ross Gay

The only Bloomington-area events listings you need

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

FOOD ◗ Corner of Sixth & Madison streetsTuesday Farmer’s Market; 4-7pm

MIXER ◗ Topos 403Young Professionals of Bloomington, monthly get-together; 5:30pm

POETRY ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsRoss Gay, An American Poet, the poet reads from his own work; 5:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleRichard Groner, 6-8:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Swain Hall East — “Miss Bala,” directed by Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico; pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center — “How Does A More Cooperative Ape Evolve?” presented by primatologist Brian Hare; 6pm

WORKSHOP ◗ BloominglabsIntro to Soldering, for electronics; 6-8pm

NATURE HIKE ◗ Leonard Springs Nature ParkGuided, one-mile hike, observe wildlife, binoculars & magnifying glasses provided; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoJFB Jazz Jam with Tom Clark; 7pm

POLITICS ◗ Ivy Tech-BloomingtonLeague of Women Voters Candidate Forum, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation board candidates; 7pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “A Bag of Hammers,” with appearance by director Brian Crano; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeChad Nordhoff; call Rachael’s for show time

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “When the Rain Stops Falling;” 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallStephen W. Pratt conducts the Wind Ensemble; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam hosted by Fistful of Bacon; 8pm

GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm BloomingtonTeam trivia; 8pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “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
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

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 LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

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The Pencil Today:


Courtesy of the White Rabbit.


A couple of things about my favorite Martian, Rick Santorum, before I get into the meat of today’s post.

  1. Yesterday, speaking before a crowd in Arizona, Rickey-girl slammed the Obama health care bill, natch. But he acknowledged that part of Obama’s reasoning was that every citizen should have the right to health care. Haharights. “When the government gives you rights, they can take those rights away,” he spewed. I’ve never thought about it that way before. I guess Martin Luther King, Jr. and all his cronies, were they still alive, would regret the enactments of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. Because, after all, who cares about rights when they can be taken away?
  2. Pennsylvania’s man-in-the-closet is taking heat for casting aspersions on Obama’s “theology.” He has declared he will not step back from the statements because they came from his heart. You know, that’s why Republican Cro-Magnons are attractive to a lot of voters. They won’t back down. It’d be refreshing to hear a Democrat once in a while saying, Screw it, I said it and I believe it, no matter how many people think I should apologize.


Speaking of Democrats, the Monroe County party faithful gathered together last night in the Fountain Square ballroom to pat themselves on the back and tell each other how badly they’re going to spank the GOP this coming November.

Even Mayor Mark Kruzan emerged from his cocoon to press the flesh.

Kruzan Has Been Seen In Public Before

Dem hopefuls running in the May primary for city, county, and statewide offices were introduced by the somnolent county party chair Rick Dietz during last evening’s finger-food love fest.

BTW: perhaps Dietz does a fine job maintaining the records of the party, or maybe he finds the best deals on yard signs and bumper stickers. But when it comes to rallying the troops, Steven Wright would be a more emphatic orator.

Anyway, the star of the show was the mustachioed John Gregg, who’s running for governor. He grabbed the mic out of Dietz’s hand when he was introduced and wowed the crowd. The man has charisma in addition to that big furry thing on his upper lip.

A Hirsute Governor?

The five brave souls running for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District met the flock as a unit for the first time. In fact, some of them met the flock for the first time, period.

At least three of the contenders threw their hats into the ring within the last few weeks. They’re all earnest and most of them paid lip-service to the memory of liberal Dem representative Frank McCloskey as well as the sainted Lee Hamilton. But from this vantage point, it seems likely the only one with a ghost of a chance to unseat Congressboy Todd Young is Shelli Yoder.

McCloskey: Local Hero

I came down hard on Yoder Monday. She’s best known as Miss Indiana 1992 and earned a second runner-up spot in that year’s Miss America drool-fest. Apparently, she’d earned her second-lieutenancy by smoking up the pageant stage in her swimsuit.

Being a licensed and certified smart-ass, I felt compelled to make fun of her beauty-queen past. But smart pols like Regina Moore and Linda Robbins dig her the most, so I can’t discount their evaluations.

On the other hand, I spoke to a couple of female pols last night who want to see more from Yoder — and they weren’t talking skin, either.

Here are the Dems running for the nomination:

I haven’t got time right now to reveal my impressions of the gang (there’s the little matter of catching my bus to get to the Book Corner) but I’ll run them all through my wringer within the next few days. It should be fun.


Back to the-man-whom-Google-made-famous, Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times decided to check out his website. Steinberg reveals the results of his research in today’s column.


His conclusions? What I’ve been saying all along, these theocratic right wingers think about sex, sex, sex, and more sex.

To be frank, I do, too. As do you, I’ll bet. But, speaking for myself, I don’t flagellate myself for those thoughts.

And yeah, I tried the whole whipping-for-fun trick once. Didn’t do much for me. Still, I don’t run around screaming that my S&M pals ought to be banished to a desert island.

Maybe, Rickey-girl should try it. Could it be that’s what he really wants?



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