Category Archives: dlisted

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Thursday


“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” — Carl Reiner



Well, that was some few days off, eh?

I’m back from my little hiatus and all I missed was America’s definitive holiday, another psychotic going wild with a gun, and a foot of freakin’ snow in South Central Indiana.

I just peeked outside and the snow’s still there. Damn.

Anyway, as the white blanket was falling, I was getting ready to go into the Book Corner, see, because I’m a hero.

None of this soldiers and firefighters nonsense anymore. I’m the real hero because — ta-da! — I was going to be the one guy working in downtown Bloomington when every other flabby creampuff was shivering at home, looking out at the snow, and wondering if he/she was going to survive the ordeal.


I was raised in Chicago, baby. We go out for a picnic in a foot of snow. We may be a few minutes late to work in two feet of snow. If we ever get three feet of snow, well then, that might be a problem, but I doubt it.

So I called the Head Whip-cracker at the BC, Crystal Belladonna, and said, smugly, “Dontchu worry ’bout a thang. You just stay home in your footies. This is nothin’. I’ll open the store and stick around as long as there are customers.”

There was awe in her voice as she asked, “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure? Girl, am I sure? Man, you South Central Hoosiers slay me. You get an inch of snow and the schools are shut down. A little bit of ice and the emergency management dude comes on the radio to warn citizens to stay off the roads. I’m surprised you people have survived into the 21st Century.”

“Well, I can’t get my car out of the driveway,” Crystal Belladonna said.

“Oh,” I said. “I understand.” Although I didn’t. She obviously hadn’t been trying hard enough. Maybe she spun her rear wheels once or twice and then threw her hands in the air.

The quitter.

I puffed out my chest. “Well, I’m gonna take the bus. It’s no big deal to me.”

“You’re awesome, Big Mike,” she said.

We hung up. I said to myself: “She’s right.”

Steve the Dog padded up and gave me that look. Time to shake hands with the mayor.

So I harnessed him up and decided, You know what? I’m awesome. I’m not even gonna put long pants on. I’m just gonna keep my Champion workout shorts on. And if the neighbors see me, why then, they’ll know I’m awesome, too.

Of course, I’m not a lunatic so I kicked off my flips and put on socks and Sketchers. I don’t want to appear to be a show off.

I flicked the garage door switch and next thing I knew a gust that had to rate a 73 on the Beaufort Scale almost pushed me back in the house. Now that’s a wind, considering the fact that the Beaufort Scale only goes up to 12.

Steve the Dog looked up at me as if to say, Sometimes I just don’t get you.

Now then, I wasn’t going to let a little breeze intimidate me. Hell, I had a spring jacket on. I was dressed for the weather, after all.

We got to the garage door after a few dicey moments of ambulation at a near 45-degree angle. Steve the Dog stopped just at the edge of the snow. He sniffed it, flapped his ears, and sidled just around the outside wall and lifted his leg.

“Oh no, buddy,” I said as he did his business, “we’re going out there.” I pointed broadly toward the frosted ivory expanse. He gave me that I don’t get you look again.

I walked out into the snow. Steve the Dog stayed just where he was and watched me. I turned back and saw him at the wall. I shook my head and gave the leash a yank. He didn’t move. “Hey, what’s this all about?” I shouted. “Come on!”

And I yanked the leash even harder. He took the first dainty steps into the snow. Within four steps the white stuff was up to his haunches. He stopped, looked back toward the inside door sadly and then began moving when I yanked the leash again.

I had fully expected Steve the Dog to romp around in the snow as he usually does. Then again, I’ve never had the chance to take him out in what I was learning was some 10 inches of the stuff. Steve moved around resembling nothing so much as a recalcitrant teenager being told to clean his room.

Steve finished with his toilette and threw a glare in my direction. I’ve no doubt that if evolution had outfitted him with the physiology to call me an asshole, he would have at that very moment.

We got back inside, I de-harnessed him, and he took up his customary post on the living room sofa. He eyed me as if to say, “Now we know who’s the intelligent life form around here.”

I showered and dressed. Came the query from the master bedroom: “What are you doing?” It was, of course, The Loved One.

“I’m going to work.”

“Why?” she said.

“Um, because I’m scheduled. Duh.”

“Don’t be silly. Everything’s closed down. Nobody’s going out today.”

“Correction,” I said, a trifle austerely. “One person is going out.”

She threw open her bedside laptop and started clacking. “Mike,” she called out after a couple of minutes, “there’s a blizzard warning.”

“So what?”

“It’s dangerous out there.”


“Mike! You’re not going to have any customers. Why are you doing this?”

I grumbled.

While I was tying my shoes, I heard her voice again. “Mike, 45 mile per hour gusts!”

“I know it.”

“And you’re still going out?”


Now she grumbled.

There was triumph in her voice when she announced, “Bloomington Transit has just suspended service.” And then — just to rub it in, I’ll bet — she explained, “There are no more buses.”

“Then I’m driving.”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am.”

We both grumbled.

I threw my jacket and beret on and marched back toward the garage.

Now, even a hero must be cautious before lunging into the fray. So I walked out into the driveway, just to test the depth, you understand. I got about 20 yards out and realized the snow had reached up above the midpoint of my shins. It appeared deeper farther on, toward the road.

I stood there a minute or two, trying to figure out how I was going to explain my way out of this. I shook my head. It was obvious there was no way the Prius would be able to plow through this. The thought of walking the three miles to the square flitted through my mind. But, see, I was already huffing and puffing just from walking 20 yards. No, walking to work was out.

I re-entered the house as carefully as a second-story man. I moved around as silently as the cats, shedding my coat and shoes. Maybe — just maybe — The Loved One wouldn’t hear me making my tactical retreat.

All seemed well until, sneaking into the living room to position myself next to the very intelligent Steve the Dog, I bumped into my acoustic guitar. Broi-n-n-n-ng, it rang out.

“Mike?” The Loved One called out. “Is that you?”

I froze, not answering.

“You aren’t going in, are you?”

Again, silence.

As much as one can hear a smirk, I heard The Loved One’s.

I am now, officially, a Hoosier.


I have just learned who Courtney Stodden is. I read about her on dlisted and had to google her.


This Is Not Courtney Stodden

I am now less of a human being than I was moments ago. This newfound knowledge makes me wonder: Does America deserve to exist any longer?

[ED’s note: I couldn’t bring myself to run a pic of Courtney Stodden as she is the apotheosis of this holy land’s concurrent fixations on child sexuality, empty celebrity, cosmetic surgery, and, well, titanic bullshit. I figure it’d do my readership well to see a photo of an actual human being who has accomplished marvelous things. Melissa Franklin, shown above, is someone you should know. The spawn of Satan known as Courtney Stodden is not. Please take time to click the links for Dr. Franklin. It’ll make me feel better about things.]


Here’s your last-gasp Xmas bit. A man named Stephen Wagner is becoming acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on Santa Claus sightings.


Wagner, who calls himself a paranormal researcher (which, from this vantage point, seems as contradictory a term as lottery strategist), says he’s compiled a list of several hundred Santa sightings since he began studying the phenomenon two years ago.


Another One

And, mind you, these sightings are all reported by adults.

Wagner is lobbying for Santa sightings to be included in the august discipline of paranormal research, which is practiced at numerous universities. Swear to god.

He’s not having a lot of luck in getting his research accredited by the fuddy-duddies of academia.

See, within the woo world, there are people who are considered too woo to be normal. Wagner is the woo’s woo.

And you thought your family was crazy.


Ben Patimkin: “Lemme tell ya, somethin’. In the real world, you need a little gonif in ya. You know what that means, gonif?”

Neil Klugman: “Thief.”

Finally, farewell to Jack Klugman.

Scene from "Goodbye, Columbus"

Klugman Stuffs His Punim In “Goodbye, Columbus”

Perhaps the greatest casting coup in cinematic historic occurred when he was tabbed to play Ben Patimkin in the movie version of Philip Roth’s “Goodbye, Columbus.”

Don’t be confused by the names of the speakers in the dialogue, above. Neil Klugman was played by Richard Benjamin, which was also an instance of inspired casting. Then, as if to negate all the good, director Larry Peerce cast the single most shikse non-actress of the day, Ali MacGraw, as the Jewish-American princess, Brenda Patimkin.

Klugman (Jack, not Neil), appeared in a lot of great stuff that was been overshadowed by his star turns in the TV series “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy, M.E.” Catch him as Juror #5, the street tough all grown up, in “12 Angry Men,” or as the broken-down trumpeter, Joey Crown, in a 1960 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

The Pencil Today:


“Am I really cool? You’re telling me I’m cool? Well, that’s good to hear.” — Paul Giamatti


How cool do you want to be? Cool as me?

Then check out the Friday Night Sound Clash on Louisville’s WFPK-FM Friday nights from 8-11pm.

Matt Anthony

Show host Matt Anthony is the smoothest, hippest white man this side of the International Date Line. Last night at about 10 o’clock, for instance, he segued from Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” to “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five. He mixes in jazz, Afro-Cuban, Chaka Kahn, Beck, Amy Winehouse, dance, trance, chill, funk, ska, the original Parliament, Fela Kuti, Mos Def, and dub step. And he won’t stop there.

I listen every Friday night after Steve the Dog and I take our walk around the boat docks at Paynetown SRA on Lake Monroe.

Steve doesn’t know what a lucky dog he is to be able to hang out with a cool cat like me.

I’m So Cool I’m Blue


Speaking of cool, have you heard about the spectacular ice ball that’s hurtling our way through the Solar System yet?

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is so out there it doesn’t even have a Christian name. Or a Jewish one, for that matter, ala Shoemaker-Levy. It was discovered a week ago last night by a couple of Russkie spies who claim to be astronomers. Yeah, sure.

The Dot In Question, At The Cross Hairs

Anyway, the two, Artyom Novichonok and Vitaly Nevski, spotted a miniscule dot on some digital images of an area inside the constellation Cancer. They were using a monster telescope that, presumably, can see you inside your bedroom right now, so stop doing that.

The dot, informally dubbed Comet ISON, is too tiny to be seen by the naked eye as yet, considering it’s more than 600 million freaking miles away from Bloomington as we speak.

But by the time of its nearest pass to the Sun in November 2013, it may be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight — no lie! — and at night might be as bright as the full moon.

Passe, Next Year

It’ll be porn for astro-geeks like me. You’ll get a kick out of it, too, I’m sure.


Husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends of artists have to be remarkable souls.

My mother would say there should be a special place in heaven for them.

That’s because living with a creative sprite can be a special hell.

Think Picasso, Van Gogh, Amy Winehouse, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Robert Mapplethorpe, or Marilyn Monroe. Those who befriended them, slept with them, or paid the rent once or a million times for them and didn’t murder them have to be saints.

Robert Mapplethorpe Had Patti Smith

The drama, the poverty, the ego, and, in the case of many rock stars, the bad hair, or, in the case of painters, the incessant odor of linseed oil, might drive the sanest person bats.

Think Jackson Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner.

The Kinsey Institute Gallery opened a new exhibit last night dedicated to those selfless few who stayed with their photographer spouses and loves through thin and thin. Called “A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners,” the exhibit features images documenting the lives of partners of photographers from the US, China, Brazil, and Japan.

Photographer Yuhki Touyama’s Mate

Check it out, especially if you’ve been aggravated by your mate of late. He might only let his toenails grow too long; Jackson Pollock, drunk, drove a car into a grove of trees with his young mistress next to him while Lee Krasner waited for him at home.

The exhibit runs through December 20th.


The Electron Pencil, of course, is the finest and most sublime utilization of the interwebs since the gossip site dlisted came on the scene nearly eight years ago.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other sites you can click on now and again.

Check out Rawrahs, a political blog written by a midnight surfer from Forest Park, Illinois. This fellow, whom we’ll call, oh, let’s say Rushdie, was one of the first people I ever knew who got much of his info from the Net. He was online when the prevailing forums were bulletin boards and newsgroups.

In other words, Rushdie was wired as far back as the 1910s. He and Marconi were thick as thieves.

Rushdie’s serious. He doesn’t go for the easy joke (like some people we know.) And he’s got a personal stake in the unionization of public employees.

Go ahead — visit Rawrahs. You have my permission.


The irreducible Hondo Thompson is grappling these days with a disturbing question.

He asks, “Why can’t we just tell some folks they simply aren’t qualified to participate in this conversation, this government process, this debate, this election? Must every voice really be heard?”

He illustrates his quandary with this clipping from the Letters to the Editor section of some Australian podunk newspaper:

Yeah, that’s right, the letter writer actually suggests the extra hour of sunlight brought on by Daylight Savings Time might be causing drought. He urges Australia’s CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) to look into the matter.

Need I explain why this is as mad as the notion that Sharia Law is gaining a foothold in this holy land? Maybe madder. Wait, nah.

Anyway, Hondo’s query, although attractive in a perverse way, smacks a tad of elitism, even fascism. Yet each and every one of us has wondered the same thing at one time or another.

Ambient 1, 1/1

Brian Eno‘s breathtaking, hypnotizing, groundbreaking first foray into environmental sound. Perfect for a Sunday morning. Try it yourself, you’ll see.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

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

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

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

CONFERENCE ◗ IU Memorial Union, Walnut Room — “Where’s the ‘World’ in Popular Music?” Interdisciplinary presented by the Colloege of Liberal Arts & Sciences, click link for schedule of events, free and open to the public; 9:30am-4:30pm

SEMINAR ◗ Various venuesThe Combine, 3rd annual display of talent , innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, featuring speakers, workshops, idea pitches, and mixers; through Sunday, September 30th, today’s events:

Buskirk Chumley TheaterMain Stage Speaking Event, a full day of speakers; 9am

The Atlas Bar, 209 S. College Ave. Open Gaming, presented by Studio Cypher; 6:30pm

The Atlas Bar, 209 S. College Ave.Official Unofficial After Party; 9pm

NATURE ◗ Jackson Creek TrailExploring Jackson Creek Trail, guided hike, observe wildlife; 10am-noon

WORKSHOP ◗ Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center — Mind Training Through Pain & Disability Series, Presented by Ani Choekye; 10:30am-noon

NATURE ◗ WonderLabBirds of Prey: A Live Raptor Show, 11am

OKTOBERFEST ◗ Upland Brewing Company, Bloomington Brew PubBeer, food, live music; 11am Saturday-1am Sunday

NATURE ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRAHarvest Moon Weekend, Family friendly camping weekend, campfire, crafts, & programs; 1pm Saturday-5pm Sunday

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “When the Rain Stops Falling;” 2pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“Petulia,” Directed by Richard Lester; 3pm

MUSIC & WINE ◗ Owen Valley WineryMusic in the Garden: Foster Jones; 5-8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Meet the Fokkens“; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU GymnasiumHoosier volleyball vs. Northwestern; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashvilledw Brykalski; 7-9pm

HALLOWEEN FUN ◗ Haunted Hayride & Stables, 8308 S. Rockport Rd.; 7pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“The Search”; 3pm

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

STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights ProjectComedy, “RX,” by Kate Fodor; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheatreRyder Film Series: “Neighboring Sounds“; 8pm

BALLET ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Light and Shade,” Presented by IU Ballet Theater; 8pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Behrendt; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubRitmos Unidos; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceRoom of Voices; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoSam Hoffman Quartet; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceWildflower Union, R-Juna, Honors, The Gentle Shades; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeThe BloomingTones Big Band; 8-10pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “Katy Perry: Part of Me;” 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts Theater Ryder Film Series: “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present“; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdChase Rice, Corey Cox; 9pm

MUSIC & DANCING ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington70s Disco Party, Meow Disco; 10pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Behrendt; 10:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “Katy Perry: Part of Me;” 11pm


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:


“Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” — Vaclav Havel. The leader of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution died yesterday in his home at the age of 75.


My old blogging partner, Benny Jay of The Third City website he and I founded, recently wrote about his wife seeing a white owl as she walked along Chicago’s lakefront. The gist of the post was that Benny couldn’t care less about the rare bird; he was busy reading about the Bulls as his bride gushed.

The soulless brute.

I saw a white owl at the lakefront on my birthday back in 1980. The bird was standing on one of those big four-spout concrete water fountains the Park District used to have everywhere. My girlfriend at the time and I saw the owl, stopped suddenly, and gaped. The bird then noticed us and took it on the lam. Swear to god, his (her?) wingspan had to be a three or four feet.

I’ve never forgotten that moment. And I’ve never seen another white owl.

Now, I may get another chance.

The Herald Times reports that Snowy Owls seem to be migrating as far south as these precincts this winter. The last such “irruption” (unusual migrating pattern) occurred fifteen years ago.

I’m grabbing my binoculars and bird book just as soon as I finish with this post.


I try to let very little disgust me.

I can think of only a few examples of things that have actually made me want to retch. I saw the body of a wayward juice loan collector who had his head blown clean off by shotgun blasts on North Nora Avenue back in 1975. I saw Divine eat dogshit in “Pink Flamingos.” And once at the Subway on North Walnut Street, I was forced to listen to Ke$ha’s collaboration with Li’l Wayne, Wiz Khalifa et al entitled “Sleazy Remix 2.0” while trying to eat my Veggie Delight sandwich.

Divine: Screenshot From Pink Flamingos

I remember that incident well. It took three Subway employees to pry out of my hand the pistol that I had pointed at my temple.

Anyway, while reading Michael K‘s indispensable celebrity gossip site, dlisted, yesterday, I nearly horked. (H/T to memoirist Mary Karr for the word.)

Michael K linked to a pep rally at Rosemount High School in Minnesota where — gack! — jocks and jockettes were blindfolded and then forced to make out with their parents!

Force yourself to look at the vid. Check out the mom who starts rolling around on the gym floor with — I remind you once again — her son. And watch another mom move — gluck! — her son’s hand onto her ass.

Sometimes I think I really don’t like kids. But then I realize it’s very often parents who turn my stomach.

And, by the way, should I by some weird chance learn that any of these parents vote Republican because this holy land is not living up to its “Christian ideals” I will personally drive up to Minnesota and kick them in their genitals.


A spamily- and brattle-free zone.

John Spencer Bergman of Chicago was one of my earliest roommates, back in  the days when I had the maturity of an 11-month old. He taught himself how to play bass guitar and turned out to be a pretty good one, providing the rhythmic foundation for the late ’70s cute-boy band Clox. He used to work at a little corner grocery on Clybourn Avenue that sold pig’s ear sandwiches. No lie — the place actually had a big sign out front advertising them. Poor earless pigs.

Anyway, John takes on god’s personal emissary on Earth, the NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who is beloved by, among others, the degenerate gambler Bill Bennett.

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