Category Archives: George Carlin

1000 Words: Trendy

Bill Maher on his weekly gabfest “Real Time” recently put forth an opinion that is sure to get him run out of town, any town, but especially a college town. Take Bloomington, for example, a town filled with folks who believe with all their hearts and souls they know what is right and just and good and, damn it, you’d better listen.

Well, Bill Maher isn’t listening. He caveat-ed that it’s good and great that people confused about their assigned genders — and those not confused but certain their specific assignment is in error — are becoming more welcomed in workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and the whole of western society in general. His kumbaya props established, he then pointed out, awkwardly and sloppily, something I’ve suspected for a while: that today’s focus on gender fluidity and trans people in general is largely The Latest Big Thing.

I could rip apart his essay piece by piece, talking about how he mixes up gays and lesbians with trans people and cites stats about the one while trying to make the point about the other and…, well, as I say, it was a mess. Hidden somewhere in his pile of confusion was something I’ve suspected for a few years now.

I wrote several years ago that the increasing number of young men who wore skirts or halters or painted their fingernails or otherwise thumbed their noses at the rigid binary gender rules the world has imposed since…, oh, forever, seemed to be today’s version of my generation’s Long Hair.

See, I grew up in the late 1960s and into the ’70s, a time of dramatic social and cultural change. And those who wanted the world to know they were on the right side of that change very often communicated it by growing their hair long. That went for both males and females. The guys sprouted wild bushes or mussed, asymmetrical, tortuously parted mops, or even long, straight, Rapunzel tresses. The young women of the day tended to go the long, straight route, a la Julie from The Mod Squad.

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By 1970, merely by shunning the barber, you were able to let everyone know you were against the war in Vietnam, you supported civil rights, you were concerned about the environment, and more. Dang, long hair just might have been one of the most effective communications tools ever conceived.

And let’s not forget youth’s eternal urge to shock the bejesus out of mom and dad, the school principal, the cops, the fussy old lady neighbor down the block or, simply, The Man.

In the ’70s, I grew my own hair out at different times in a shoulder blades-length cascade of waves and curls and a beach ball-sized white boy ‘fro. Then, a few years later when I was 23 and 24 and my pal Sophia and I went out clubbing and dancing all night long, I wore eyeliner and colored fingernails and dangling ear piercings. I did those things because I thought they made me look cool and I wanted all the passing frat boys and South Side lunkheads who’d see me to know I wasn’t one of them. Mom and Dad and The Man, too.

Today, that 22-year-old barista who has a five o’clock shadow and shoulders as wide as a doorway but is sporting a slinky, sleeveless dress and affects a Kathleen Turner-style coy yet come-hither accent may or may not be grappling with his-in-the-process-of-becoming-her gender identity. Or he-slash-she may simply be saying, Hey, Mom & Dad, up yours!

Like Maher, I don’t say this to denigrate people wondering what their genitals mean, why their packages aren’t maturing as magnificently as others’ of their putative gender, or why they feel so wrong in their own skin. Just that I can’t shake this feeling that signaling gender fluidity may be hot today and a lot cooler tomorrow.

And it isn’t just the rebellious young doing this displaying. At the bookstore not long ago a sweet little old granny came up to me and asked if we carried any books for trans children. I asked: “How old is the kid?”

“Three,” she replied. “He — oh, I should say they — are questioning their gender.”

I resisted the urge to to silently stare at her with my head cocked to the side, like a dog hearing a doorbell on TV. Three years old. As George Carlin once observed, a three year old hasn’t even located his dick yet. And he wasn’t talking about gender questioning.

Bill Maher noted:

Maybe the boy who thinks he’s a girl is just gay…. Maybe the girl who hates girly stuff just needs to learn that being female doesn’t mean you have to act like a Kardashian…. I understand being trans is different, it’s  innate, but kids do also have phases. They’re kids; it’s all phases: the dinosaur phase, the Hello Kitty phase. One day they want to be an astronaut, the next day you can’t get them to leave their room. Gender fluid? Kids are fluid about everything! If kids knew what they wanted to be at age eight, the world would be filled with cowboys and princesses.

The people I know who’ve undergone sex reassignment surgery spent years wrestling with their own feelings, trying to understand their nearly inscrutable perceptions and reactions, working with counselors and medical professionals, undergoing genetic and hormone testing, and any number of other hurdles.

Being trans is not like putting on a new shirt. If that barista is indeed shouting to the world that he despises the rigid binary sex typing imposed on us from birth onward — hell, people paint the nursery either pink or blue even before the kid is born! — and that everyone deserves dignity and respect no matter where they reside on the huge gender spectrum, then I’m with him. But if he’s wearing that slinky, sleeveless dress and doing a breathy Kathleen Turner voice for the same reasons I made my eyes up, polished my fingernails, and wore a dangling earring 40 years ago, at least let’s recognize that there are far fewer trans people these days than people trying to make a point.

And his display, in a lot of ways, is a slap in the face to people who’ve endured the ordeal of becoming trans.

Gridiron Hot Air

Sporting Rants

Okay, I come to this with a pre-existing bias. Football, I’ve pontificated here and elsewhere many times before, is one of the dumbest-assed games imaginable.

I mean, how can you root for a pro football team when your favorite players are likely to have their knees folded sideways at any given moment in the big game? That and the game represents all the most dearly held fetishes of the Republican Party: the forceful acquisition of real estate, corporate welfare, violence, extreme obeisance to authority, regressive labor subjugation, and the only role for women in it is as scantily-clad window dressing. So, yeah, I’m likely to cherry-pick evidence that the game ranks somewhere on the spectrum of crimes against humanity. But, honestly, how can you explain these two stories of the past weekend?

◗ Superstar running back Adrian Peterson played a football game Sunday, a mere two days after his two-year old child died. The kid died due to injuries suffered from an alleged beating at the hands of his mother’s current boyfriend.

Peterson is the best player on the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings played the Carolina Panthers, an historically mediocre team. The Vikings themselves seem to be on a fast track to last place this year. So, this game did not mean anything in the larger scheme of things, even if that scheme includes an undue and ghoulish preoccupation with the Vikings’ final record for the 2013 season, considering the circumstances.

Even with their superstar running back, the Vikes lost to the mediocre Carolina Panthers 35-10 yesterday. There will not be a championship parade in Minneapolis next winter after the Super Bowl. But even if the Vikings and their fans had a realistic hope of winning the NFL’s big prize, wouldn’t a father want to take some time to remember his son and to help the kid’s mother get through this horrifying time? Is football that important?

To Peterson it is. It was also important to him to send a text message to Laura Okmin, a Fox Sports reporter, explaining his decision. Here’s the message, a screenshot from the Fox Sports broadcast of the game:

Screenshot from Fox Sports

So god told him to play. God, apparently, thinks fathers (and brothers) should be playing football rather than grieving over their lost sons (and siblings). I would like to think that Adrian Peterson might have spent his Sunday afternoon helping to console the kid’s mother or assisting with whatever arrangements that need to be made.

But, of course, god “wants good” to come of the kid’s death. Peterson did score a touchdown, so all is right with the world.

Peterson told another reporter the idea of not playing never even crossed his mind. “It was all about praying to god for the strength to get through and help my teammates,” he said.

No mention was made of the kid.

◗ Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub suffered an injury on a play Sunday afternoon against the St. Louis Rams. Schaub had been sacked and as some several hundred pounds of humanity was lifted off of him, he lay on the turf holding his lower leg and writhing in pain.

As Schaub lay on the ground, the agony clearly visible on his face, the loyal Houston fans cheered. No, not for Schaub being courageous and steely and a game warrior. They cheered because maybe, just maybe, they’d get a new quarterback. Huzzah! Turns out he’d hurt his ankle badly enough that he was unable to continue to play in the game.

Houston fans got what they wanted.

Schaub Injury


See, Schaub has committed the unforgivable sin of not being the best quarterback in the league. He hasn’t allowed the city of Houston to climb on his back so that he might carry them single-handedly to a Super Bowl victory.

Why, it’s positively unpardonable.

Instead, Schaub got his limb turned into a gruesome origami and — voila! — now Texan fans have hope again.

I’m torn now. I don’t know who is more loathsome, pro football players or pro football fans.

Baseball & Football

A master at work.

The Pencil Today:


“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” — Salman Rushdie


Before we say anything else, let’s agree that every nation and culture is weird, bizarre, inane, ludicrous, and so on until we run out of adjectives.

Some Middle East cultures force their women to cover their faces. Ultra orthodox Jews practice Kapparot around the high holidays, wherein a person (okay, a man) reads Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24, then grasps a live chicken and swings it over his head, thereby transferring his sins to the soul of the chicken. Emmis (Yiddish: the truth.)


Here’s more. Many subcontinent Indians still practice dowry wherein the family of a girl child must sell home or land or even go into crushing debt to fork over a pile of rupees to the family of the girl’s future husband.

People in the town of Phuket in Thailand celebrate their annual Vegetarian Festival by sticking knives and spears through their cheeks and other penetrable parts of their bodies.

Some Somalians girls still undergo female circumcision, which is a palatable way of say clitoridectomy, which itself is a palatable way of saying those people are jerks

Many Mongolians refuse to pee in the direction of the rising or setting sun, fearing the act would demonstrate disrespect toward the holy orb.

Hey, Point That Thing The Other Way!

Under Bubi law, people of different social classes in Equatorial Guinea are forbidden from eating together.

Before we start patting ourselves on the back a little too much, remember Americans value the gun over all other items and concepts mentioned in our Constitution.

We also drive to the gym to workout.

We consume more calories and fats than any other peoples in the history of the Earth, yet an alarming percentage of us still suffer malnutrition.

Starvation Diet

America is the most technologically and educationally advanced nation of all time, yet many folks in this holy land believe the Earth is 6000 years old and that angels hover around us, making sure safes don’t fall on our heads.

So we, too, are kinky beyond all reason.

I was reminded of this by a report on NPR this morning. It was part of StoryCorps, which I usually try to ignore, being constitutionally incapable of caring about whether some husband and wife I don’t know are in love with each other. It is the definitive emotional porn, which is inferior to sexual porn in that the latter at least has a payoff in the end.

Anyway, today’s Story Corps deals with a teacher who describes his first few days at Chicago’s notorious Marshall High School, which is to secondary education what Stateville Correctional Center is to charm school.

Marshall kids get killed by stray bullets with alarming regularity. Many a Marshall teacher considers the day a success when no student flings a shiv at her. The next time the name Shakespeare is bandied about in Marshall’s halls will be the first time in a long time.


The teacher, a fellow named Tyrese Graham, says that on his first day at the school, he tried to get his class to quiet down. One student, according to Graham, shouted out that he musn’t know what the fuck school he was at.

Another student asked who the fuck he thought he was.


Graham goes on to recount the first funeral of a student he had to attend. A young man had been shot in the head by a drive-by shooter aiming at someone else. The dead boy’s mother also was hit in the arm. Graham says he did his best to present a strong front but eventually broke down and sobbed in the funeral parlor.


He says he wondered what the hell he was getting himself into that first week on the job. He promised himself he’d get through one year and then get out. But Graham eventually learned to love the place. He calls it more than a job. “[Y]ou’re dedicating your life to this,” he says.

Now, that’s a hell of a story, one every citizen of these Great United States, Inc. should hear.

It’s a hell of a lot more meaningful than the typical StoryCorps piece about someone’s grandmother falling in love as a young girl.

Anyway, here’s the bizarre part. Before the story ran, the announcer issued a warning — there will be language, she said, that may be offensive to some people.

Clearly, she was referring to the F-bombs mentioned above. Now it gets really psychotic: the F-bombs were bleeped out. Even the online version of the story ran the word [expletive] rather than the original spoken word.

In other words, you might be offended by not hearing the strong language. Your ears and sensibilities might be so fragile that the mere thought of the dirty word would ruin your day.

Not of course, the idea that high school kids are getting their brains blown out or even that the typical Marshall class is as docile as a pack of hyenas.

No. The F-bomb — or, rather, the very idea of it — might boil your blood.

Man. We are one nation of weirdos under god.


Click GO!


Who else?

The Pencil Today:


“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.” — Mark Twain


When I was a kid, magazines often carried cartoons featuring a robed, bearded guy walking the big city streets and carrying a sign that read, “The End Is Near.”

Usually the punch line would be delivered by a couple of passing businessmen, one of whom would muse to the other on how that end would affect his promotion or raise or his wife’s meatloaf.

Looking back, I suppose those cartoons reflected our need to deal with the specter of nuclear annihilation. On a less literal level, the general uneasiness over the burgeoning civil rights and women’s movements caused people to realize the world they were familiar with really was coming to an end.

May As Well Laugh

By and by, the Soviet Union collapsed and blacks and women began taking their rightful places in society. Lo and behold, the world didn’t end.

Now, we’re back to wondering if the end is near again. Climate change, our own vulnerability in the wake of 9/11, a crashed economy, internet panics, genetically modified foodstuffs, a black man as president, gay marriage, and even the Mayan calendar silliness have caused many to wonder if these are the last days.

They’re not. As George Carlin observed, we give ourselves too much credit. We can’t destroy the Earth, he said. It’s been here for billions of years and our societies have only been around for a few tens of thousands of years.


The world has been struck by comets and asteroids, it’s been convulsed by earthquakes, it has experienced droughts and floods and been scoured by Ice Ages. Still it spins and life on it continues to grow and diversify.

Carlin even mentioned the crazy glut of discarded plastic bags accumulating in our oceans and across the land. He said the Earth, as it’s done since it came together eons ago, will just come up with a way of incorporating them into itself.

Part Of The Earth Now

We can’t end the Earth, Carlin concluded, we can only end ourselves.

And, I’d add, even that’d be awfully tough to accomplish. We tried our damnedest to wipe ourselves out back in the 1930s and 40s. World War II was the most violent spasm humanity has ever gone through. Anywhere from 60 to 100 million people were slaughtered during the hostilities. Yet here we are.

We’ve figured out a lot of things since the first hominids swung down from the trees and began branching off into proto-humanity. One thing we haven’t figured out, though, is perspective. Sometimes it seems we’re even regressing on that front.

In the 1960s, people who warned that the end was near were considered cartoon characters. Today they’re called in by the cable news channels to offer expert opinions.


Remember that line from Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson”? Make sure to catch the vid at the bottom of this post.

Just a reminder: get yourself over to Bloomington High School South tonight for the debate between the five Democratic candidates for US Congress in Indiana’s 9th District.

BHSS is located at 1965 S. Walnut Street. The debate begins at 7:00 and runs for an hour and a half.

If you can’t make it, at least visit the candidates’ websites:

The primary is Tuesday, May 8th. The winner takes on Republican Todd Young in the November general election.


Got two pieces of news at Bloomington Information Central — AKA the Book Corner — yesterday.

First, Maarten Bout, one of the big chiefs over at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, was brimming with the news that the first show of the 2012-2013 season has been set. Rufus Wainwright will play the venue on Tuesday, August 7th.


A few minutes later, Tom Roznowski ambled in, wearing his trademark fedora and a smart gray-on-gray retro ensemble. Bloomington’s storyteller, singer, author, and general custodian said he’s got a show lined up Saturday in Greenfield and his next hometown gig will be Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, 6:00 pm at The Player’s Pub.


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

Tuesday, April 24, 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, 1:30-5pm

Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibition, “Esse Quam Videri (To Be Rather Than To Seem),” featuring Muslim self-portraits; 9am-4:30pm

Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryIU MFA & BFA Thesis 3 Exhibitions; Noon-XXX, through May 5th

Sembower FieldIU Baseball vs. Miami of Ohio; 4pm

Myers Hall, Indiana Molecular Biology Institute — Seminar, keynote speaker Dr. Don Ennis, University of Louisiana, “Mechanisms of Mycobacterium Marinum Transmission between Fish”; 4pm

Puccini’s La Dolce VitaYoung Professionals of Bloomington monthly meeting; 5:30-8pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsGreg Jacobs presents “The Art of Wellness — Finding Wellness in a Health-Challenged Society”; 5:30pm

Bloomington City Hall, McCloskey Room — Erin Asher Meager presents “Creative Healing,” South Central Arts WORK Indiana meeting; 5:30-7pm

First Christian ChurchMoney Smart Week & the Indiana Attorney General’s office present “Schemes, Scams, and Flim-Flams”; 5:30pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke Tuesdays; 6pm

Patricia’s Wellness Arts Cafe & Quilter’s Comfort TeasUnfinished Object Night & Up-cycle Evening; 6:30-8:30pm

Bloomington High School SouthDebate, Democratic candidates for US Congress, Indiana’s 9th District; 7-8:30pm

Cafe DjangoJazz Jam; 7-10pm

First United Methodist ChurchSymphonic Bells of Bloomington Spring Concert; 7:30-8:30pm

Show-Me’sPoker; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubBlues Jam; 8pm

Farm Bloomington, Root Cellar — Tuesday Trivia; 8-10pm

The Palace Theatre of Brown County, Nashville– Cowboy Sweethearts; 8pm

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

Max’s PlaceScott Bender’s Showcase; 8pm


The Pencil Today:


“By all means, let us be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.” — variously attributed to Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, James Oberg, and others.



I wonder if hypnotists still dangle pocket watches before the eyes of subjects they’re trying to put in trances.

More to the point, I wonder why there are still hypnotists. Then again, I shouldn’t wonder at all, considering we live in a credulous near-theocracy whose citizens largely believe in angels, a 6000-year-old Earth, and alien visitations.

Unbelievably, the ancient art of hypnotism is in Indiana news today. It seems a Christian woman who makes it a practice to visit Loogootee High School to pray for teachers and students is up in arms about the school’s Saturday fundraiser that will feature, yep, a hypnotist.

The fundraiser will benefit the school’s baseball team. Loogootee is a speck on the map in the southwest corner of the state, total population as of the 2010 Census: 2751.

Lots of schools around this holy land hire hypnotists to entertain at fundraisers. It’s all in fun and every once in a while some kid or parent can be seen lurching around the stage, clucking like a chicken. I’m sure such a sight reaps scads of money.

Geneva Yoder, on the other hand, takes her medieval belief systems seriously. Yoder used to have kids at LHS and still cares enough about it to go there, kneel down and implore her BFF in The Sky to smile kindly upon the place.

When she found out the organizers of the baseball team’s fundraiser had hired a hypnotist, she lodged a complaint with the Loogootee Community School Corporation.

Yoder told radio station WBIW that it’s “not morally or ethically right to hypnotize children” just to raise dough for the baseball team.

Not that Indiana has a sterling reputation as a land of forward thinkers but this mini contretemps, coming on the heels of Ft. Wayne Rep. Bob Morris claiming the Girls Scouts are a radical organization, makes us look worse than usual.

The sane among us can only hope our fellow state residents will someday bring their thinking in line with more modern 16th Century ideals.


All my life I’ve been a contrarian, so much so that at times it’s been to my own detriment.

My operative philosophy is, don’t get swept up in group think. The bigger the group, the dumber everybody in it becomes.

For many years, I wondered if perhaps I was — oh, I don’t know — anti-social. Imagine how thrilled I was, then, to read George Carlin’s critique of teams. Here it is:

Teams suck! I don’t like ass-kissers or team players. I like people who buck the system. Individualists. I often warn kids: “Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you ‘There is no I in team.’ What you should tell them is, ‘Maybe not. But there is an I in independence, individuality and integrity.’ Avoid teams at all costs. Keep your circle small. Never join a group that has a name. If they say, ‘We’re the so-and-sos,’ take a walk. And if, somehow, you must join, if it’s unavoidable, such as a union or a trade association, go ahead and join. But don’t participate; it’ll be your death. And if they tell you you’re not a team player, just congratulate them on being so observant.”

Yay! I wasn’t alone. The great George Carlin agrees with me.

Despite mainly being an independent writer since 1983, now and again I’ve worked for a private company. I worked in the Education Department at Whole Foods Market for three years not terribly long ago. This was at the time when companies were spending gobs of cash on foolishness like team-building getaways.

I’d ask, Why do we have to do this junk?

Everybody would say, Oh, so we can all get to know each other and spend quality time with each other. It’ll really make us unified.

Oy, I had so many objections I didn’t know where to start. Here’s a couple. First, if I wanted to get to know my co-workers better, I’d go out with them. Since I haven’t asked certain ones out, that means I don’t want to know them any better.

I mean, the company pays me to spend eight hours a day with people who, by and large, I would never want to be around unless there was remuneration involved. Once that eight hours is up, I wanna go home or to the places I hang out and see people I really like.

Second, why do we have to be reminded we are a team? “Well, it’ll put us all on the same page,” they’d say. For pity’s sake, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Of course we’re a team! Of course we’re on the same page!

They sort of told me when I was hired, This is what we do here. Now you’re going to be doing it with us. I had no illusions that I’d be able to, say, work on my great American novel while I was at work — well, at least not where I could be caught at it. By definition, all our presence in this building makes us a team. We’re trying to sell groceries here, for fk’s sake!

None of these arguments went over very well. And when I couldn’t come up with any credible excuses not to go on team-building functions, I’d go and I’d spend all my time with people I liked and avoid those I didn’t. Just like the regular work day.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about all this because of raw milk.

Huh? Raw milk.

Yeah. WFIU ran a report on the morning news the other day about people who strive to circumvent Indiana’s raw milk ban. See. the state outlaws the selling of raw milk for health safety reasons. Pasteurization destroys most of the microbes that can cause food-borne illnesses.

Raw milk advocates, on the other hand, think pasteurization adversely affects the flavor of moo juice (sorry, I got tired of typing milk.)

When it comes to food fetishists, though, Bloomington often seems the center of the world. Almost immediately, Facebook lit up with people claiming raw milk is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

One person posted that since his family has switched to raw milk, his kids have suddenly been relieved of all their allergies.

Another said that he, his wife, and none of his kids have had so much as a cold since his family turned to raw milk.

I suppose they can believe what they want. What harm does it do for someone to believe raw milk is a miracle substance?

Now, I consider myself an advocate of fresh, healthy, wholesome foods. I try (although I occasionally fail) to minimize my intake of hydrogenated oils, red meat, excessive salt, and other iffy comestibles. I eat spinach every day. I gobble my fruits. I do my best to buy foods that aren’t laden with chemical preservatives or artificial flavors. I restrict my visits to White Castle to once a year.

That puts me on the health food team, I imagine. But remember, I hate being on teams. And the reactions of those Facebook posters is a prime example why. They’ve elevated a personal preference to an almost philosophical imperative.

So, I posted something myself. I wrote, “Look,if you dig the taste of raw milk that’s cool. But it ain’t no magic elixir, folks.”

Aw, that’s one of the 10,000 reasons why I hate Facebook. It too often turns me into a pain in the ass.


Hey, Cindy Wilson is 55 years old today. The B52s were the pride of Athens, Georgia and middle America’s intro to punk/new wave pop.


Wilson and her brother Ricky were two of the four original members of the band, formed in 1976. The B52s were sailing along in terms of popularity when Ricky suddenly died of AIDS-related complications in October, 1985. He hadn’t told anybody about his illness and his death was a shock to the other band members. Cindy, naturally, was hardest hit by his death. The band went on hiatus for three years.

When they came back and hit the charts in 1989 with “Love Shack” they achieved their greatest success.

The Pencil Today:


“Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.” — Frank Gifford

Gifford (Recumbent)


Anybody who knows me even a little bit knows of my deep and abiding hatred for football.

Ergo, today, for me, is pretty much the most loathsome day of the year.

I quote from that renowned thinker and opinionator, me:

The Super Bowl, of course, is this holy land’s holiest event. I’ve long endorsed the idea that Super Bowl Sunday should be declared a national holiday. Football is a game that is run by men, involves violence, employs strippers disguised as cheerleaders, and rakes in literally billions of dollars a year for teams, television, bookies, athletes, anthem singers, halftime entertainers, orthopedic surgeons, criminal defense attorneys, and many more.

What’s more American than that?

(This gem of cogitation originally ran Friday.)

Anyway, Betty Greenwell, a sometimes-lapsed member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Boys of Soma, reminds me that the statesmen and philosophers who run the NFL are in a quandary these days, what with the fiftieth Super Bowl a mere four years off.

As you know, Super Bowl branding — which was bestowed upon mankind by god — decrees that each Super Bowl be designated by Roman numerals. Today’s sacred rite is number 46, or more properly XLVI.

Number 50 presents a problem, though. The Roman numeral for 50 is, of course, L.

Now, L is the sports equivalent to the the biblical 666. It is the mark of Satan as well as those evil souls who have scored fewer points than the opposition.

The NFL reptilian-brain trust will not have the single most important date in their canonical year be smutted by such a sinister figure.

Super Bowl L? The horror!

BTW: The 30th Super Bowl didn’t seem to ruffle NFL feathers:

Football and porn — perfect.


George Carlin explains it all.

The Pencil Today:


“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” — George Carlin


Bloomington chanteuse Krista Detor’s star is getting bigger by the day. Not only is she the subject of a breathless profile in the current issue of Bloom magazine, but tix to her shows are almost as hot as Indy Super Bowl ducats.

She wandered into the Book Corner yesterday, looking for last minute gifts. She told this nosy bookseller/correspondent that her holiday show last week at the Bloomington Convention Center was the biggest yet.

Krista’s 6th annual benefit blast, “Once Upon a Time,” packed the center’s Great Room a week ago tomorrow.

Better grab your chance to see her soon before she starts filling up those big arenas around the Midwest — or even the entire nation!

Krista! Krista! Krista!


Many of my leftie pals have been screaming to high heaven about the US government’s alleged propensity these days to engage in undercover hijinks, manipulation of information, and generally act like the USSR-lite.

The Obama Administration — and the Bush Gang before it — claims it must keep the citizenry safe from all manner of mayhem.

Here’s a development from NPR‘s Nell Greenfieldboyce. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is urging the feds not to release the findings of government-funded research into bird flu mutation to the public. Their rationale — bioterrorists might take the info and create a virulent strain of the virus to unleash on target cities.


Usually, federally-funded research is promptly released to scientific journals and even to the mainstream media. The normal follow-up to the time-honored scientific method is to publish findings so other scientists can test and, if needed, poke holes in a new theory. This last step, the Board is saying, is a little too risky in this case.

One aspect of the lab work has been to fiddle with the virus’ genes. Scientists already have developed a strain that is far more contagious than the original.

So, it’s the right to know versus a crippling bio-attack.

Don’t know what my suspicious pals are going to say about this one.


This is America, some 300 years after the Age of Enlightenment began.

A 17-year-old California boy was sentenced this week to 21 years in prison for assassinating in cold blood a high school classmate who was gay.

Judge, Jury, And Executioner

A young boy in Washington battled a flesh-eating bacterium in 2006. Doctors expected him to die. He didn’t. Relatives had placed a relic of some Mohawk woman at his bedside. Now Pope Benedict XVI says the whole thing was a “miracle” and will declare the woman a saint next year.

Kids: “You Got A Spare Miracle For Us?”

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is a flamboyant Christian. He kneels and prays every chance he gets on the football field. His team has won a bunch of games. Some fans argue that the creator of the Universe is interceding on his behalf.

God: “Nah. I’m Busy With This Football Game.”

A little baby has been missing in Kansas City since October 4. A Dallas psychic has claimed to have had a vision of where the kid is buried. A party of volunteers actually went searching for her in the area where the psychic said she was. The kid, natch, wasn’t there.

The Renowned Crime Investigator

And, of course, the old standby: 72 percent of Americans believe in angels while only 45 percent believe in the theory of evolution.



Yep, the Monkees.

BTW: For all the rage surrounding Davy Jones back in the ’60s, he sure looks dorky trying to keep time to the beat, doesn’t he? And did you notice he’s a monobrow? And his face is shiny?

Oh, alright, I’m still envious of him.

Today: Monday, November 14, 2011

If the boys in charge were smart, they’d let winter quash the Occupy encampments across this holy land.

But the boys in charge are smart about as often as a Republican candidate for president talks about issues that mean something to you and me.

So, this weekend riot-geared cops waded into Occupy camping jamborees here and there. And it’s ironic, considering that within the last few days there was a street melee that warranted the use of force in response.

I mean, honestly, wouldn’t you have felt good about the world in general had local and campus police cracked some skulls with their nightsticks when those Penn State reprobates rioted Wednesday?

An essayist on Michael Moore’s website opines that arrogant white men don’t like to be held accountable for their actions. The author of the piece, one Mike Elk, holds that Penn State is is the capital of whiteness in Pennsylvania. (Hat tip to my old pal R.E. for putting this up on her Facebook page.)

But the cops played nice with the entitled white boys who were so enraged that their child-molester-protecting, GOP-supporting football coach was fired.

The fact that poverty is spreading here in America, right wingers are clamping down on sex and women, corporations are taking over world governments, the gap between rich and poor grows more alarming every hour, and other terrifying developments meant nothing to these little frat farts. Only their football coach being persecuted for sitting on his hands while his great and good pal sodomized ten-year-olds in the shower room drove them into the streets.

An op-ed contributor in the LA Times rails against the cult of college sports, a sentiment close to my heart. I realize I risk being lynched in these precincts but the whole hypocritical, corrupt, fairly racist major college sports structure makes me ill. (Hat tip to Roger Ebert on Facebook for citing the LA Times piece.)

My next door neighbor Tom asked me if I wanted to watch the Hoosiers basketball game with him the other day. I like Tom. He’s a good man and a good neighbor and I enjoy spending time with him but watching college sports ranks just below submitting to my yearly prostate exam on the list of things I want to do.

One of the Irish Tough Guys who hang out at Soma, Tough Guy Pat, holds season tix to just about every sport on the Hoosier athletic department sked. His mood often is dictated by the result of yesterday’s football game or last night’s volleyball match.

College sports means a lot to guys like Tom and Tough Guy Pat. I get that. I also get that were it not for Hoosier sports husbands would have to start talking to their wives around here, and that, of course, is unnatural.

And, speaking of unnatural, it strikes me that too many folks burdened with what they or society consider “unnatural” sexual urges seem to gravitate toward institutions that frown on the whole notion of doing fun things in the nude.

Authoritarian clubs like the Catholic church and the Republican Party sometimes seem overrun with closeted gays and boy-lovers.

Now, I need to clarify my usage of the term “unnatural.” We all agree that men who have sex with boys are operating with frighteningly faulty wiring. Gays, on the other hand, are not. But many, many, many poor souls consider their own homosexual feelings sinful or sick. They would consider themselves “unnatural.”

Here’s why I made mention of Joe Paterno’s Republican party affiliation. The GOP in the last 35 years or so has become fixated on sex. Birth control, abortion, gay marriage — if you don’t hew to the party line on these topics you ain’t gettin’ elected, simple as that.

(Which reminds me of the George Carlin bit about how these sex-obsessed people aren’t the kind you’d want to have sex with anyway. Thanks to Benny Jay for reminding me of this routine.)

Anyway, the Church and the GOP hold that every kind of sex except the stultifyingly boring kind between married heterosexual Iowa farm couples is icky to the point of criminality or sin.

Once you paint bonking as intrinsically evil, you lose the capability to see truly evil sex for what it is.

Maybe Joe Pa didn’t even realize that poking a pre-teen lad is an ugly crime. Maybe he just thought Jerry Sandusky had simply succumbed to temptation, you know, like offensive guards who engage in premarital sex or tight ends who masturbate too much.

Maybe he’d been listening for too long to the fetishists who’ve taken over his party.

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