Category Archives: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Pencil Today:


“He had seen me several times, and had intended to call on me long before, but a peculiar combination of circumstances had prevented it.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Great Gatsby


Perhaps the most touching obit yet for the beloved Sophia Travis comes from Monroe County Democratic Party boss Rick Dietz.

It was Dietz’ unhappy task to break the news of Travis’ passing to party loyalists Thursday.

Here is his statement in its entirety:


I have sad news that I can barely bring myself to write. Last night Sophia Travis passed away.

Sophia was a dear friend, a community leader, a creative & musical spirit, and a caring mother & wife. Sophia had suffered since early in the year from an undiagnosed heart-related condition and had just returned from the Cleveland Clinic where she, Greg and young Finnegan had traveled for care.

Sophia personified kindness — a dense gravitation kindness — and wielded a gentle strength that could move mountains. And move all those around her. And did many times over.

There are times when one wonders how this world can just keep turning with loss after loss we can hardly bear. Please keep Finnegan, Greg and all of Sophia’s family and friends in your thoughts today.


“Where I am, I don’t know. I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” — Samuel Beckett

People all around me are walking around in a dazed state in the wake of the news. Such a shame that I never had the chance to meet Sophia Travis. I’d heard about her seemingly constantly whenever the conversation would turn to the arts, politics, community service, and just life in this town itself. Apparently, Sophia was one of those rare folks who simply personify a place.

Lesson: If you want to meet someone, do it now. The opportunity may be lost forever at any time.


Overheard at Soma Coffee this morning:

[Two people are talking about treasures they’ve found at flea markets and yard sales.]

Man: “Back in June, I found a 1908 Hamilton Beach vibrator at a yard sale.”

Woman: “What? Really? You mean a personal satisfaction device? Is there such a thing or did I just invent a new term?”

Man: “A PSD, hmm.”

[The woman looks up the device online.]

Woman: “Here’s an ad for this thing. [Reading] ‘Very useful and satisfactory for home service.’ That’s it. From a hundred years ago. Actually, more than that.”

Man: “Home service.”

Woman: “Home service.”

An ad from 1908, huh? More proof there’s little new under the sun.


Hell, I’ve been saying this all along:


Do not miss the Shouts & Murmurs column in this week’s New Yorker.

Writer Jack Hitt aggregates a dung heap of misquotes, faulty interpretations, and outright lies uttered by some of the Republican Party’s finest examples of humanity regarding the history of this holy land.

He takes these fictions and creates a timeline of America, according to those who tend to believe that Barack Obama is a Kenyan, Indonesian, Russian, Muslim, Communist patsy/stooge or that just saying no will magically end drug abuse and teen pregnancy.

Among the revelations the Republications have foisted upon their ovine faithful are:

  • 56 men, “mostly clergymen,” signed the Declaration of Independence
  • Blacks made up much of the fighting force of the Confederate States of America
  • John Kerry shot himself
  • Bill & Hillary Clinton were personally responsible for more than 80 political murders

Okay, so we’ve outlawed literacy tests, poll taxes, and other obstacles to voting. But what about a sanity test?

I’m all for it.

Yep, we’re back here for the time being.

The spanking new Ryder website is…, well, it’s somewhere. While Peter LoPilato and his army of computer geeks perfect the new site, we’ll be running Bloomington’s best events listings here, again.


Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

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

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Downtown Bloomington, various locationsLotus World Music & Arts Festival; though Sunday, September 23rd, various times, today’s lineups:

Buskirk Chumley Theater:

  • Deolinda; 7pm
  • Deolinda; 8:45pm
  • Karen Casey & John Doyle with the Vallely Bros.; 10:30pm

First United Methodist Church:

  • Vida; 7:30pm
  • JPP; 8:45pm
  • Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps; 10:30pm

Ivy Tech Tent:

  • Panorama Jazz Band; 7pm
  • Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird; 8:45pm
  • Delhi 2 Dublin; 10:30pm

IU Tent:

  • MC Rai; 7pm
  • Canteca de Macao; 8:45pm
  • Movits!; 10:30pm

First Presbyterian Church:

  • May Monday; 7pm
  • Keith Terry & Evie Ladin; 8:45pm
  • Trio Brasileiro; 10:30pm

Jake’s Nightclub:

  • Fishtank Ensemble; 7:30pm
  • Taj Weekes & Adowa; 10pm

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park & Campground38th Annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Uncle Pen Days; through Saturday, September 22nd, today’s acts:

  • Dr. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Paul Williams & the Victory Trio, JD CRowe & the New South, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, Larry Stephenson Band, Tommy Brown & the County Line Grass, Don Stanley & Middle Creek

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

WORKSHOP & RETREAT ◗ Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterWhat Is Natural — And What Seems To Go Against Nature?,” led by Ani Choekye; 10am-4:30pm

WINE & MUSIC ◗ Oliver WineryHarvest Wine Festival, wine-tasting, tour of the vineyard, and live performances:

  • Monika Herzig; Noon-2pm
  • Not Too Bad Bluegrass Band; 2:30-4:30pm
  • Jon Strahl Band; 5-7pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Sleepwalking with Me;” 3pm

FOOD & MUSIC ◗ First Presbyterian Church of Bloomington — 3rd Annual Eat Around the Equator, dishes from Nicaragua, performances by Don’t Call Me Betty, Evan Main & Stefan Lenthe, Hank Ruff; 4-6:30pm

WINE & MUSIC ◗ Owen Valley Winery, SpencerMusic in the Graden Series: The Davis Harlow Project; 5-8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “The Imposter;” 6:15pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Old Dog;” 6:30pm

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

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleLittle Merrie Simmons, 7-9pm

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

MUSIC ◗ Bloomington High School NorthBloomington Symphony Orchestra presents “Mustaches & Melodies,” compositions by Brahms, Fauré, & Dvorak; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Brown County Playhouse, NashvilleFred Jones Band, Shelflife; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeXoe Wise; 7:30-8:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Don Giovanni;” 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater Ryder Film Series: “Marina Abramovic: The Artists Is Present;” 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubGordon Bonham Blues Band; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoPost Modern Jazz Quartet; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Palace Theatre of Brown CountyConcert saluting the 60th anniversary of Sun Records, starring Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial UnionUB Films: “The Amazing Spiderman;” 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceIndiana Boys, White Lightning Boys; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls;” 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceUp Draft, Text Auction; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdMain Squeeze; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDinosaur Feathers, Shark, Firemoose; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Neighboring Sounds;” 9:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial UnionUB Films: “The Amazing Spiderman;”11pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “The Bolognese School,” by Annibale & Agostino Carracci, through September 16th
  • “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

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit:

  • Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection;” through September 21st

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

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:


“Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald


People were eating free bowls of Total cereal on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn yesterday morning.

A couple of big party tents and dozens of folding chairs were set up around long tables in front of the venerable domed structure. All were plastered with the Total brand name. People wearing Total t-shirts, vests, and smocks walked around the square, directing passersby to the giveaway.

It was all part of the “celebration” for Bloomington being named one of the 25 hardest-working towns in America by Parade Magazine Sunday.

The “Celebration” Raged On In 25 Cities

At least that’s what the press release issued by Total claims. For my money it was nothing more than a cheap hey-look-at-me-stunt. In fact, the entire list of hardest-working towns thing is an ad man’s gimmick.

I’d like to think we’d keep the courthouse lawn fairly free of commercialism. And if we were going to allow businesses to tout their wares on it, those businesses would at least be local, not some multi-national, Fortune 500 concern with annual global net sales near $15B.

Corporate Headquarters, Golden Valley, Minnesota

Perhaps the citizenry of Bloomington is too sophisticated for such obvious commercial flattery. I didn’t see many people flocking to the tents and tables even if they were going to get something for nothing.

But whoever gave Total and its parent, General Mills, the go-ahead to use our public space to hawk their breakfast cereal is easily flattered indeed.


So, perhaps the best business to get involved in these days is bill collecting for hospitals.

One of the side effects of the sputtering, stuttering economy is the growing inability of poor and working class families to pay their hospital bills. Last year, hospitals in the United States provided some $39B in “uncompensated care,” meaning treatment for the uninsured.

One publicly traded hospital collection agency, Accretive Health, reported a 130 percent increase in company profits in 2011 over 2010.

Wait, did I type business? I meant racket.

“Now, Whaddabout D’at Money Y’Owe Me?”

According to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, that fabulously successful business, Accretive, is planting collectors in hospitals to circulate among folks waiting to be treated in emergency rooms. The collectors are allegedly leaning on the sick and injured to pay off their outstanding hospital bills for previous services.

Accretive employees get to people after they’ve registered at the ER or the obstetrics desk. “Patients are harassed mercilessly,” one hospital staffer told the New York Times. If the patients owe on unpaid bills, the Accretive people stall and pressure them. Even those who don’t owe money are given the rough massage by Accretive employees — they’re badgered to pay in advance for treatment, a practice unheard of until recent times.

That, my friends, is a racket. And Accretive isn’t the only racketeer in on this dirty business.

In a more innocent day, we called such people goons or plug-uglies. You knew them because their fists were the size of small bowling balls and their noses were crooked. Now you can’t tell them apart from nurses and patient service representatives.

“Y’Don’t Want Me To Get Tough Now, Do Ya?”

Swanson has filed a lawsuit against Accretive regarding its practices. She’s conferring with state and federal regulators over whether to file criminal charges.

I imagine there’ll be plenty of tut-tutting over these ghoulish corporate tactics. Nothing illustrates the transformation of health care from a civic good to a profit-making enterprise better than this story. The lament surely will go up: The corporate bean counters are now holding the strings, controlling our doctors and nurses!

I’d like to bring the discussion down to the individual level, though.

What kind of a human being would willingly work for a company like Accretive?

Yes, I know jobs are scarce these days, and one can’t be terribly picky about things. Someone offers you a job, you snap it up, even if it’s not the perfect position.

Still, how desperate do you have to be to agree to strongarm a pregnant woman whose pains are five minutes apart? Won’t trying to squeeze money out of people who are suffering appendicitis attacks or whose kids are burning up with fever all day eventually get you down even if you are keeping up with the mortgage payments?

“Hey Kid, Where’s Your Mudder? I Gotta Talk To Her’.”

If the only thing that counts is the earning of regular pay, why not hire out as a contract killer or sell crystal meth to teenagers? I’ll bet those two vocations pay a hell of a lot better than Accretive does.

These days it’s a luxury to refuse to work for big bad Barnes & Noble, say, because it’s putting independent bookstores out of business. As long as this recession hangs around, you can table your finely honed social conscience. It’s better to eat and keep your home than it is to maintain some impossible standard of political purity.

The people who work for Accretive, though, have to dig being thumb-breakers, even if they’re not required to actually snap phalanges. Yeah, Accretive is an evil corporation if these charges are true but it’s made up of little individuals who are equally as amoral.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

American Red CrossThursday Book Sale; 9am-4pm

City HallToday’s 1st Public Input Session for Switchyard Park; Noon

◗ Bloomington, Citywide — IU’s Arts Week Everywhere 2012; Ongoing, various times

IU Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryMFA & BFA Thesis 3 exhibitions; through May 5th

IU Dunn MeadowRent-a-Puppy, play with puppies fundraiser for Bloomington Animal Shelter; 1pm

IU CinemaLecture, Irene Taylor Brodsky discusses her documentary film, “Hear and Now”; 3pm

Irene Taylor Brodsky

Meadowood Retirement CommunityFive Star Chef Challenge; 3:30-6:30pm

IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — Presentation, Gayle Cook talks about “The Mystic of the Domes”; 4pm

City HallToday’s 2nd Public Input Session for Switchyard Park; 5:30pm

Bear’s PlaceAha! Quintet CD release party; 5:30pm

IU Assembly HallIU Men’s Basketball 2012 Awards; 6pm

Rhino’s All Ages Music ClubBenefit concert for Abilities Unlimited featuring Elmo Taylor and Don’t Call Me Betty; 6:30pm

Pictura Gallery — Artist talk with Russian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva; 7-8pm

IU Memorial Union, Alumni Hall — Das Racist; 7pm

IU CinemaDocumentary film, “Hear and Now,” by Irene Taylor Brodsky; 7pm

Rachael’s CafeDrunken Moon Cabaret; 7:30-9pm

The Player’s PubOpen Mic; 7:30pm

Yogi’s GrillPoker; 7:30pm

IU AuditoriumMusical, “Young Frankenstein”; 8pm

Cafe DjangoSeth Tsui Jazz Quartet; 8-10pm

IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — Film, “The Artist”; 8 & 11pm

Comedy AtticKumail Nanjiani; 8pm

Bear’s PlaceKaraoke; 9pm

Max’s PlaceWhiskey Mystic; 9pm

The BishopSweetback Sisters; 9:30pm