Category Archives: Frank Sinatra

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Read The Electron Pencil everyday, especially now that we have daily event listings. Scroll down to our Go section. What are you waiting for?” — Big Mike Glab

WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK….

So, Bloomington has been blessed by Parade Magazine as the fourth-hardest working town in these Great United States, Inc.

I don’t know if Bloomingtonians are dancing in the streets just yet (I’m still sitting in my underwear in my garage office typing out this bilge, after all) but I’m going to have to dump some cold water on all the glee.

Typical Monday Morning In Bloomington

What in the world does this arbitrary list mean? Do the people of, say, Santa Clause, Indiana, which is not on the list, just sit around dreaming of Christmas? Does the populace of Hoboken, New Jersey refuse to work because they’re busy listening to hometown boy Frank Sinatra’s records?

“I Just Don’t Have The Time To Work.”

Here’s the most troubling thing about Parade’s survey and findings: Bloomington ranked so high mainly because our citizens are, as a group, the most willing in the United States to work weekends (“an astounding 15 points above the national average”).

Ever since unions started becoming unfashionable and workers rights turned into a pie-in-the-sky ideal in this Land of Reagan, Americans have been compelled to work longer hours and sacrifice more of their personal and family lives for employers who have been laying them off as never before. The weekend as well as the lunch hour and, for that matter, even an uninterrupted dinner have come to be viewed as luxuries.

I wouldn’t throw a party for the Parade ranking.

READ TO LIVE — LIVE TO READ

Happy World Book and Copyright Day!

Bet you didn’t know this holiday existed. Unless I missed the news, I don’t think there’ll be a parade down Kirkwood Avenue today in honor of it.

Why Not?

Here’s what I suggest you do — take your favorite book to work or school today and just give it to somebody. It could be a stranger or your best friend. No matter, just give her or him a book.

And if the loss of the book makes you feel deprived, I have a simple remedy for that, as well. Go to your local independent bookseller (he he) and buy a new one.

Simple, no?

WELL, I NEVER!

So, John Edwards goes on trial today for the heinous crime of conspiring to conceal his extramarital affair during his aborted presidential run in 2008. Additionally, the Secret Service/prostitutes scandal continues to race along.

This weekend whiny Joe Lieberman, Independent (read: incapable of commitment) senator from Connecticut, wagged his finger and revealed that one of the offending Secret Service agents actually stayed at the hotel where President Obama was scheduled to occupy when he arrived in Colombia. The horror!

Lieberman: They Had Sex, Those Fiends!

Other than obvious atrocities like shooting an unarmed black teenager on a dark street in a white neighborhood or Mel Gibson offering his opinion on anything, the worst thing you can do in this holy land is have anything other than missionary position sex outside the sacred bonds of marriage.

Ergo, Secret Service agents have been fired and may yet be prosecuted and a presidential candidate whose top talking point was the poor eventually may be sentenced to time in the joint.

Meanwhile, these fine citizens continue to roam the streets freely:

The Unindicted

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

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

The Kinsey Institute Gallery“Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze,” exhibit, art by women examining men; Ongoing

From the “Man as Object” Exhibition

IU Memorial Union, State Room East — Lecture, Dr. Joseph Collentine, chair of Modern Languages at Northern Arizona University, “On the Compatibility between SLA Corpus and Variationist Research”; 2:30pm

IU Asian Culture CenterHenna 101 with introduction and hands-on application; 5:30pm

IU Auditorium“Spirit of Indiana Showcase,” annual student-athlete awards gala; 6:30pm

Bell Trace Health and Living Center“Life in a British Period Drama,” 4-session class on British class life; 6:30pm

Madame Walker Theatre CenterAuditions for “Queen Esther — A Fearless Shero”; 6-8pm

IU Hutton Honors College, Great Room — Indiana Review Editors Showcase; 7-8:30pm

The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

The BishopNo Requests with DJ Burke; 8pm

The BluebirdDave Walters Karaoke; 8pm

The BishopSpirit of ’68 Presents: WOODS with Mmoss & Apache Dropout; 9pm

The BluebirdLaidback Luke; 9pm

Laidback Luke

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“You can safely assume you’ve created god in your own image when it turns out that god hates all the same people you do.” — Anne Lamott

NEW YORK KNUCKLES UNDER

Now I’m worried.

Generally, when there’s a controversy over the teaching of evolution in a school district, we can be certain it’ll be raging in some tucked away rustic corner of this holy land.

We, the intellectually superior citizens of these Great United States, Inc., can snort derisively at the yahoos, rubes, and Jethro Bodines across America who wish to shove sinners like scientists and other bookish commies out of the curriculum-making process.

The New School Board Member Relaxes With His Dog, Duke

Not any more, babies.

The city of New York, bastion of the intellectual elite, homosexuals, abortion-profiteers, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, women-who-don’t-retch-at-the-very-thought-of-sex, and all the rest, is now the locus of an evolution controversy.

Folks, we have officially gone to holy hell, thanks to the theocrats who’ve taken over the USA.

The New York City Department of Education has banned the use of the term dinosaur in its standardized tests. Yup. The word, the department says, is dangerous.

Dangerous

Not slaughter, or hate, or ethnic cleansing, or rape, or racism, or even Lady Gaga — all of which are terms describing horrifying aspects of the human condition. Words that might make sensitive young test-takers shiver under the covers after being forced to confront them on a test that day in school.

And that’s why the NYC education ministry is banning dinosaur. A spokesperson for the schools says the word could “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”

The horror.

Apparently, the invertebrates who oversee New York’s schools have a whole list of terms that are to be avoided in the drawing up of these standardized tests. The words include birthday — it may offend Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t recognize birthdays; Hallowe’en — it reeks of paganism; and even pepperoni — the mention of which may turn the stomachs of kids whose parents frown on eating such a delicacy for religious reasons.

Dangerous Pizza

Most of the words — hell, virtually all of them — got nixed because of the fear that some religious group or another might throw a hissy fit should it get wind that these subjects are broached in NYC schools.

If I believed in god, I’d pray for him to help us.

The NYC Department of Education is not saying precisely why words like dinosaur are being excised but it’s safe to assume the anencephalics who populate the fundamentalist Christian world might begin juddering in their square-toed shoes if they hear or read it. The term dinosaur, you see, might conjure the idea of evolution, which is almost as sinful as enjoying sex.

Dangerous Enjoyment

So what in heaven’s name is acceptable to teach and test the kids about?

The sciences, obviously, must be avoided at all costs. Wanna teach kids about the valiant researchers attempting to find a cure for AIDS or the latest flu strain? No way. Those hell-bound souls depend on the concepts of genetic mutation and natural selection — underpinnings of evolution theory — to do their work successfully.

How about geography? No, geographic understanding relies upon the plate tectonics and continental drift theories. These hold that the Earth is ancient — hundreds of millions of years old, as opposed to Bishop Ussher’s estimate that our little globe is a mere callow youth.

Okay then, math. How can you go wrong with numbers? They’re as simple as two plus two equals four.

Hold it right there, you godless demons. Nowhere in the Bible is two plus two equals four mentioned. Ergo, it ain’t true.

I suppose the only thing left is to teach our dear little ones that George Washington could not tell a lie.

Safe

Only the incident with the cherry tree never happened.

Man, we are an effed-up nation, my friends.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

This clip from the movie, “On the Town,” features two of the greatest American performing artists of the 20th Century — Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

The third guy is Broadway song-and-dance man Jules Munshin.

Leonard Bernstein scored the original Broadway production of “On the Town” but the film’s producers saw his music as too complicated and operatic, so Roger Edens wrote new music. The lyrics are by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

I still get goosebumps watching this scene. I wonder, will we ever see naked joy and childlike wonder portrayed in movies again? Probably — everything comes around again. But it ain’t gonna happen this year.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’m supposed to have a PhD on the subject of women. But the truth is I’ve flunked more often than not. I’m very fond of women; I admire them. But, like all men, I don’t understand them.” — Frank Sinatra

BREAD AND CIRCUSES (MINUS THE BREAD)

Time to beat a dead horse again. Didja see where Hamilton County has to sell its physical rehab hospital just so it can pay its debt service bills on the two Taj Mahals it built for Cincinnati’s pro sports teams?

The hospital has been valued at $30M but Hamilton County’s offering it for half that price because, well, it’s desperate.

The Wall Street Journal last July called the public financing of Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium “one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government.” Hamilton County took on about a billion dollars’ worth of debt to get the stadia built.

Half A Billion Here…

County officials promised trusting voters that the two facilities, both on the Ohio River, would usher in a new era of economic fabulousness for downtown Cincy.

Didn’t happen. And, according to the WSJ, it wasn’t going to happen even if the economy hadn’t tanked in the last year of George W. Bush’s reign.

The beauty of this story is the reaction of Cincinnati Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn. The Bengals play football in Paul Brown Stadium. The team pays virtually no operating or capital improvement costs for its palace. Additionally, Hamilton County is contractually on the hook to pay for any as-yet uninvented gizmos like hologram replay devices the team might desire. Swear to god.

… Half A Billion There…

Blackburn’s Bengals pushed hard for the County to foot the bill and ink a sweetheart lease deal for the team. The Bengals threatened to move to another city if the County didn’t come through.

County officials caved in, of course, as almost all local pols do when sports team owners put guns to their heads. Hamilton County honchos promised the good burghers of Cincy that piles of dough would roll into city and county coffers as well as local businesses if the two cathedrals were built. Voters bought those promises.

When confronted by reporters about the County’s current financial hardships, including yearly shortfalls and essential service cuts, Blackburn shrugged and said his team was not to blame for anything. Hamilton County’s suckers, he rationalized, were “an informed and engaged electorate.”

Hehe.

… Sorry, Nothing Left For You.

Former Cincinnati mayor Tom Luken was against the deal from the start. “Anybody with half a brain can figure out this is a bad deal,” he says.

We are one weird eff-ing country, kiddies.

VIDEO KILLED

Uh oh — we’re even weirder than you and I feared. Some Hollywood producer is putting together a deal to make a film about the start-up of MTV.

As in, VJs and all.

VJs.

For all you kids out there, MTV used to play music.

Ya Gotta Love the “21 Jump Street” Pose

ILLINOIS SINNERS

Rick Santorum is telling Illinois voters they can atone for their sin of giving the world Barack Obama by voting for him (Santorum) in the state’s primary Tuesday.

Guess what — a lot of my left-leaning friends are registering as Republicans and voting for god’s candidate. Their rationale? Make Santorum the Republican candidate because he can’t beat Barack.

Man, that’s playing with fire.

Plus, I don’t think the GOP needs anybody’s help in committing political suicide this year. They’re handling it just fine already.

GIRLS TO WOMEN

I’m reading Patti Smith’s National Book Award winning memoir, “Just Kids.”

Here’s my capsule commentary so far: She knows how to write and she doesn’t know how to write. That’s what makes the book charming.

I haven’t got past her poverty-stricken early days with Robert Mapplethorpe yet. She’s young and dreaming and certain there is something important she has to bring to the world. Only she doesn’t know just what it is.

Smith was already in her 60s when she was writing the book. Still, it has the sound and feel of a hungry, delightfully pretentious, ambitious, 14-year-old geeky girl.

How refreshing. I’ve had it with reading about men and boys coming of age. It’s time for more women authors to let the reading public know what it’s like to be a proto-emo girl. Or any kind of a girl at all.

GIRLS TALK

Don’t be fooled by the cover art — this is the Dave Edmunds (with Nick Lowe) version of the Elvis Costello gem.

There are some things you can’t cover up with lipstick and powder

I thought I heard you mention my name, can’t you talk any louder?

Don’t come any closer, don’t come any nearer.

My vision of you can’t get any clearer.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

From the movie, “The Apartment,” by Billy Wilder:

C.C. Baxter: “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”

Fran Kubelik: (smiling) “Shut up and deal!”

TRAPPING THE WORLD IN MY WEB

So, I got some news yesterday morning. Good news. Problem is, I don’t know if I should brag or play it cool.

Aw, you know me. I’ll brag.

According to my WordPress.com Site Stats, The Electron Pencil has been viewed by people in the following countries: the US (natch), Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, India, the UAE, and Australia.

The Mighty Electron Pencil Tower, In My Backyard

This being the Internet, I assume at least some of those hits are accidents, people misinterpreting a category listing for porn, or scammers trying to empty my checking account. Still, that’s 17 countries spread across all six habitable continents.

Cool, huh?

ONE LESS WHOOPING CRANE

Some son of a bitch shot another endangered whooping crane dead recently. The incident was reported Friday to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One of only 500 or so of the rare birds left in the US, the crane was found in the Muscatatuck River basin near Crothersville in Jackson County.

The current population of whooping cranes has increased from an alarming low of 21 in 1941. Of the birds now living in the US, some 70 percent are wild; the rest live in zoos and private sanctuaries.

Some whooping cranes can grow as tall as five feet. They graze in marshes and fields, pecking for small animals, fish, berries, and grain.

Adults are brilliant white with black wingtips and red and black masks. A whooping crane liftoff is a spectacular site.

A Whooping Crane In Flight

Did I mention the guy or guys who killed the crane are sons of bitches?

AIN’T THAT AMERICA?

Here is the defining snapshot of our holy land thus far in the infant year, 2012:

Billionaire big-city boss Michael Bloomberg smooches talent-free superstar Lady Gaga at the Times Square ball-dropping ceremony. Moments like these make me think it’s midnight in America, babies.

ROMNEY’S MATE

Look, Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee for president. He’s that party’s only near-centrist and he’s the savviest politician among the lot of them still in the running.

He’s The One

Remember how he dropped out of the 2008 race even though he was running virtually neck and neck with the eventual nominee, John McCain? Romney’s political instincts told him that the 44th Presidency was going to be defined by nothing so much as the nearly moribund economy.

I mean, Barack Obama’s in hot water only because the fallout from the Great Recession still is raining radioactivity upon us. People blame him for service cutbacks and unemployment even though he inherited from his four predecessors the conditions that caused those ills.

Four years ago, Romney figured, Why should I be the one to take that heat?

Smart choice.

So, when the GOP convenes in Tampa in August, that crafty pol will be the one telling the nation how fabulous things will be with him in the White House.

And Romney will hold up the arm of his running mate. But who will that be?

Mark it, dude, it’s going to be the right winger from our worst nightmares. The GOP’s most energetic base still considers Romney to be Abbie Hoffman with an expensive haircut. He’ll have to throw them the veep of their choice as a bone.

I get this creepy feeling we’re going to be longing for the good old days of Sarah Palin next November.

HELLO 2012

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at Chez Pencil. The Loved One and I stayed in and made some homemade pizza vanish.

We watched a couple of movies that, by happy coincidence, contained New Year’s Eve scenes: Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.”

The Little Fellow Awaits His New Year’s Eve Guests

The years, oddly, seem to be getting shorter. I wonder if calendar makers are cutting back during these tough economic times.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

Retro-junkie and film/vid producer Mike Flores posted a link to this old Bob Hope wisecrack last week.

Funny thing is, Hope could have told the joke exactly the same way except substituting “Republican” for “Democrat” and the other half of the country would have roared and said, “How true!”

We all think we’re brilliantly perceptive and the other side is either stupid or mesmerized.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

This is a gem, a clip from a 1965 documentary on Frank Sinatra. Say what you will about him, he was an artist. This clip, in fact, features three artists: Sinatra, of course; the conductor Gordon Jenkins; and the announcer, Walter Cronkite.

Sinatra in the studio was demanding, mostly of himself. His phrasing and articulation were stunning. His ear was almost inhuman in its sensitivity.

Sportswriters talk about superstars who raise the game of their teammates. That’s what Sinatra did for the other musicians in the studio with him.

Well, we didn’t blow ourselves up in 2011. We’re still here and plugging away, albeit clumsily and often stupidly. In that sense, it was a reasonably good year. Let’s see if we can get another thing or two right in 2012.

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