Category Archives: Gertrude Stein

The Pencil Today:


“I had a romance novel inside me, but I paid three sailors to beat it out of me with steel pipes.” — Patton Oswalt


Today’s Bloomington-area events at the click of a button.


I thumbed through “Fifty Shades of Grey” the other day. You’ve heard of the book, no doubt.

Number one on the New York Times Best Seller list, viral marketing phenomenon, has sold more than 10M copies, gave birth to the newly-coined genre “mommy porn.”

Here’s the bad news: don’t get your panties in a bunch over it. The sex scenes are as tepid as anything in any cheap, bodice-ripping romance novel you can get in a grocery store.

Swear to god, the author, some previously anonymous keyboard banger named E.L. James, refers to men’s junk as their “manhood” and even once, when describing a scene wherein the heroine unzips a man’s fly, refers to what pops out as simply, “him.”

Oh, the sizzlingness of it all!

James, Author of Th… Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z…, Oh, Sorry

So, if “50…” isn’t good for the sex then it’s good for nothing. Save your dough.


Meg Whitman lost her bid to win the California governor’s race in 2010.

As you know, she was the big boss over at eBay at the time and now she runs Hewlett-Packard. She ran, as all business big shots do, as a candidate who knows how to run a corporation. California voters didn’t buy it; they elected retread Jerry Brown instead.

Whitman Knows Business

Whitman yesterday announced that H-P will commence the biggest lay-off in its long history. Some 27,000 poor saps are going to lose their jobs. Whitman told reporters that the lay-offs won’t be easy but “they’re absolutely critical for the long-term health of the company.”

Which puzzles me. Weren’t the 27,000 part of “the company”? Looks like their long-term health prospects are awfully dicey right about now.

A couple of guys named Hewlett and Packard, natch, started the biz in a garage back in 1939. The two were worth a tad more than $500 at the time.

Hewlett-Packard World Headquarters, 1939

By the turn of the century, H-P had become a multinational corporation, ranked in the top ten in the Fortune 500, and shelling out billions to take over competitors and vendors.

Hewlett and Packard ran the joint until they were doddering old men in the 80s and 90s. Since 2000, H-P has had a total of six CEOs.

You know, the type of folks we ought to be voting for because they know how to run corporations.

H-P hasn’t been doing well of late. Fewer people are buying its computers and those in the know say the outfit isn’t being run properly.

Naturally, the rank and file will suffer because those at the top have done a lousy job.

But, you know, we ought to vote for people because they’d run big companies.

See, when they get into office and times become tight, they know how just what to do. They can lay off a few million citizens.

Mitt Would Know Just What To Do


I pride myself on being a contrarian. If I could, I’d stop breathing because, you know, that’s what everybody else does.

Anyway, many of my fellow literates would sneer at me because I believe that Gertrude Stein was a fraud.

You know her: “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Sheesh.

Stein was part of a famously terrifying lesbian couple, the other half of which was Alice B. Toklas, who was responsible for the pair’s only real contribution to world culture, her hash-laden brownies (the recipe for which she stole, BTW.)

The Happy Couple

Anyway, Mental Floss has a fabulous quiz that truly puts old Gert into perspective. MF collects 11 different quotations from either Stein’s “writings” or Jose Canseco’s Tweets.

Remember Jose Canseco? Lunkheaded major league baseball player who loaded up on steroids and went out with bimbos even more brainless than he was? Canseco was chasing down a fly ball in the outfield once, he missed it, the ball clunked off his head, and bounced into the stands for a home run. You know, that Jose Canseco.

The Mental Floss quiz challenges you to determine who’s responsible for each quotation. I took the quiz. I swear on a stack of Bibles I could not tell who said what. Try it yourself.