Category Archives: Global Weirding

The Pencil Today:


“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus


Why not? Okay, but you only have one week left to do it! Here’s where you can vote today and tomorrow:

The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm

IU Assembly Hall, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm


So, the Republicans are pulling out one last pie to throw in the face of Barack Obama with a week to go before the November election.

According to them, Obama conspired with Muslim extremists to murder four Americans during the attack on this country’s diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya a couple of weeks ago. Then Obama covered up his administration’s complicity in the affair.

The whole shebang, says everybody from John McCain to Newt Gingrich, is worse than Watergate.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Of course, I’m exaggerating when I say they’re actually accusing Obama of participating in the attack. About as much as they’re exaggerating about it and Watergate.

And, by the way, the GOP has been salivating for a “Democratic Watergate” for some 40 years now. It hasn’t happened yet.


This day comes every year around this time.

Baseball is finished for 2012.


Their Joy; My Loss

The San Francisco Giants completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series last night. I’ve been listening to the games on live stream. Not only do I love baseball, I love radio (even radio on my laptop.) So I get to combine two of my loves at once.

It’s like having a pizza and spaghetti party.

A Kind Of Heaven

But it’s over.

I wanted the Giants to win. But not just yet. Not now. Not this soon. Couldn’t they have drawn it out for a few more games or, better, a few more weeks? Baseball’s done. So is summer. So is another year.

My boys, the Chicago Cubs, had one of the worst years in their long and storied history. They’re as far from the World Series as they’ve ever been in my lifetime — and that includes a lot of absolutely rotten teams.

But I’m hoping. The new brain trust led by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and John McLeod has gutted the organization, ridding it of deadwood, ne’er-do-wells, and — for all I know — Satan worshippers. That’s a good start. Now they have to gather real ballplayers.

I don’t believe in god or magic or life after death. But the thing I do believe in makes all those things seem rational. I believe the Cubs will win a World Series while I’m still alive.

Anthony Rizzo Will Lead Us To The Promised Land

Call me a crackpot.


Big Think took on climate change skeptics yesterday.

You know, without Fox News, these people would be babbling on a street corner somewhere. Of course, in a sane world, so would the Fox News people.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago The Daily Mail of London ran this ludicrous headline:

Everybody with a functioning cerebrum ignored it. Except, natch, Fox News.

The Party of God’s house organ ran with it big time:

Turns out that the Daily Mail piece was completely erroneous.

Doesn’t it scare the crap out of you that a huge percentage of this holy land’s population eats up Fox News on a daily basis?

It makes me want to throw my hands in the air and moan, “I give up!”

On the other hand, maybe Fox is coming around. Their screen headline implies that there was global warming, once. That’s better than denying it ever existed, right?


How about one last blast of summer from Brazil’s Astrud Gilberto?

This song is also known as “Summer Samba.” Light and airy, hopeful and exciting — it’s the perfect metaphor for what I hope every summer will be. They never really turn out that way yet I still dream of those ideal summers in the dark of every winter.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Monday, October 29th, 2012

VOTE ◗ Two locations for early voting in Monroe County today and tomorrow:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Indiana University Assembly Hall, South Lobby, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Adam Brown on guitar; 5pm

TOWN HALL MEETING ◗ IU Memorial Union6th Annual China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections, Speakers include: Zhao Shaung, Scott Kennedy, Abassador Gary Locke; 6pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleBarbara McGuire; 7-9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Juan of the Dead“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallPercussion Ensemble, John Tafoya & Kevin Bobo, directors; 7pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts CenterMAC Lobby Concerts Series: Jazz Combo; 7:15pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceRockin’ Roots: Brownbird Rudy Relic, Los Basttardos Magnificos, Tilford Sellers & the Wagon Burners; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ IU Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Begin at the Performance & Lecture Hall — Ghost Walk, Tour haunted spots on campus; 8pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts CenterJazz Ensemble, Jeremy Allen, director; 8pm

MUSIC IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallDoctoral Recital: Chappell Kingland, composition; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopMargot and the Nuclear So & Sos, Gentleman Caller; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdWhite Denim; 9pm



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
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • 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 from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:


“[Martin Luther] King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living….” — Cornel West

GORE VIDAL, 1925-2012

An unapologetic liberal. Of course, I don’t know why anyone should feel a need to apologize for being liberal.

I had my political awakening in 1968, when I was 12 years old. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed, segregationist George Wallace ran for president, Vietnam was raging. Riots, protests, the Democratic convention in Chicago — all of it thrilled and horrified me.

Then, on a steamy Wednesday night in August as Chicago cops rioted, busting heads and bloodying protesters, reporters, delegates, and innocent passersby on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley faced off on ABC TV. The moderator was Howard K. Smith.

Vidal was aggressively anti-war; Buckley aggressively pro-war. The two battled verbally until things seemed about to devolve into physical combat.

Vidal: “As far as I’m concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley: “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the god damned face and you’ll stay plastered.”

I watched this live. I took sides right then and there.

Vidal would not back down, even when threatened by a Tory, royalist, blue-blood, former captain of the Yale debate team. He merely smiled when Buckley called him a queer.

I only wish liberals were as tough today.


If you read nothing else on the environment or the issue of climate change this summer, make sure you catch Bill McKibben‘s latest, terrifying piece in Rolling Stone.

Bill McKibben

Folks, we’ve got problems. The crisis is not tomorrow; it’s today.

And if you happen to encounter someone who denies global warming, don’t even bother arguing with them. Just tell ’em to kiss your ass.


Dig Tuesday’s XKCD: What If? post, imaged and linked below in Big Mike’s Playtime section.

This week’s physics theoretical asks, “What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?”

The answers (spoiler alert!) are — 1) not much would happen (unless we consider the computers that control the world’s nuclear arsenals to be robots, then too much) and 2) indefinitely (unless, again, the above contingency holds, then, oh, 13 seconds).

But the fascinating thing I found was the author’s calculation that at any given moment in the United States, there are 10 million cars on the road.

I might add that fully 75 percent of that number are snarled up at the Bypass construction zone at this very moment.


Shelli Yoder yesterday challenged Todd Young to a series of debates in each of the 13 Indiana counties that make up the 9th Congressional District.

Young’s camp pooh-poohed the whole idea. The Republican incumbent’s campaign boss, Trevor Foughty, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the debate challenge is a publicity stunt.

Shelli Yoder & Todd Young

Funny thing is, Young himself upset long-time 9th District rep Baron Hill in 2010 in part by, well, challenging the Dem to a series of debates.


Will Murphy, former general manager of Bloomington’s WFHB and current honcho at Ft. Wayne’s WBOI, learned about Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion yesterday.

Or Maybe I’m A Soldier — Ten Hut!

Murphy observed, “Not sure what to make of this.”

I set the radio man straight. “Nothing, Will. Absolutely nothing.”

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

XKCD: What If?

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Flip Flop Fly Ball

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

The Daily Puppy: Skeeter The Samoyed

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

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 5, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Senior citizens day, Joe Edwards & Jan Masters Show; 1, 3:30 & 6pm — Royal Flush karaoke; 6pm — Clayton Anderson; 7:30pm — Three Bar J Rodeo; 7:30pm; Noon to 11pm

Cafe DjangoTom Miller’s Last Show; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Bear’s PlaceAmericana Jam: Chris Wolf, Danika Holmes, Suzette Weakly; 8pm

The Player’s PubSarah’s Swing Set; 8pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival, audience vote decides the funniest person in Bloomington; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic viewing through main telescope, weather permitting; 10pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:


“Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented. But they can be taken out of the gun.” — Martin Amis


Two things about the mass shooting outside Denver early this morning:

  1. I demand that reporters and announcers cease and desist obsessively referring to the opening of the new Batman movie. It’s as though they’re already writing the dramatic narrative for the shooting: To wit, it’s a movie dealing with darkness and evil and, poetically, a dark and evil event followed. No. It was an atrocity and it doesn’t need poetic spin
  2. I’ve said this too many times already: America, stick your guns up your ass.

It Happened At The Movies


So, farmers in Indiana and much of the rest of the Midwest will lose their crops this summer, thanks to the drought and the unusually high temperatures.

Experts say drought conditions are exacerbated by higher temps which cause faster evaporation.

Experts also say human activity is causing global warming and global weirding.

Goddammit, how many times do the sane among us have to say this?

We sell Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe‘s book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” at the Book Corner. For the longest time it was on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list (which is ironic considering the book’s premise).

Inhofe has been verbally vomiting on this topic for more than a decade now.

Back in 2006 in an interview in the Tulsa World newspaper, Inhofe had this to say about global warming:

“It kind of reminds… I could use the Third Reich, the big lie. You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their strategy.”

Whoever “they” are is never revealed. Make no mistake, though, it’s a conspiracy. Neither does Inhofe explain why any group of misguided souls might want to conjure up such a hoax.

The Environmental Protection Agency, according to Inhofe, is just another Gestapo. He often cites biblical passages to back up his “arguments” against global warming

Inhofe’s stance on the “hoax” has changed only slightly over the years. What he now characterizes as the greatest hoax he only ranked number two in his early years in the Senate. The biggest hoax at that time, he felt, was the idea that the framers of the US Constitution were in favor of a separation of church and state

Inhofe’s slogan when he first ran for the Senate in 1994 was “God, guns, and gays” — as in, they were the three most important topics on which he’d concentrate.

From God’s Lips To The Senator’s Ear

In short, the man is a dick.

Want more evidence? Try this, something he spewed during a debate on gay marriage:

“I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Anyway, there isn’t much the average citizen who can read and write can do about tailless monkeys like Inhofe. But I’ve found one thing: I always make sure his book is hidden behind a bunch of other books.

Every little bit helps.

Oh, another thing we can do is vote. For instance, Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence often appeared with Inhofe on right wing radio and TV shows. The two also worked on joint legislation including quashing the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting.


The majority of human beings on this planet were not alive when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin gamboled on the moon back in the summer of 1969.

The Lunar Excursion Module “Eagle” landed on the surface of the moon 43 years ago today, at 2:18pm our time. Some six and a half hours later, first Armstrong, then Aldrin bounded down the LEM’s ladder to leave their footprints on extraterrestrial dirt.

I was 13 at the time. I was also transfixed. Swear to god, I stared at the moon that Sunday evening, hoping against hope that I could see something like the LEM’s rocket engine firing.

That first moon landing remains one of the defining moments of my life. It happened during the summer of Woodstock, Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, the Manson Family, and the Cubs surely on their way to their first World Series appearance in my short lifetime. I considered all of them part of a package. Peace, love, politics, music, hippies, horror, unbridled joy, crazy hope, and crushing disappointment.

Unbridled Joy

I once assumed that everyone — even those born after ’69 — considered the moon landing something, well transcendent.

Many don’t.

I was walking down Michigan Avenue with my brothers and his three sons one Sunday afternoon ten or so years ago. We approached the Tribune Tower which is famous for having bricks, stones and other chunks of famous buildings embedded in its walls. There are pieces of the Alamo, the Berlin Wall, Westminster Palace, the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramid at Cheops, the Parthenon and many, many others.

There also is a moon rock on display. It’s not embedded in the wall, of course, considering it may be the most expensive hunk of stone in existence. It’s behind a several-inch thick slab of bullet-proof glass next to the main entrance of the Tower.

I’d passed it dozens or even hundreds of times in my life and never had neglected to stop and look at it. There is a hunk of the moon, I’d think as I gawked. Holy fk!

Moonrock Encased In Lucite At The Tribune Tower

So, as the five of us came off the Michigan Avenue bridge I said to the boys, “I wanna show you something so cool you won’t believe it.” Ranging in age from their early to late teens, they seemed skeptical. Only the appearance, say, of Batman himself or the spectacle of a man leaping from the top of the Tower to his certain death was likely to impress them.

Still, I believed this piece of a celestial body 238,000 distant would give them goosebumps.

It didn’t. I may as well have pointed out a common house brick. The only one of my nephews who was moved to even comment on the rock said, “So what?”

I was crushed.

BTW: Author Joy Shayne Laughter quoted this morning from some anonymous philosopher (neither of us could remember who said it), “We went to the moon on 126K of RAM. Now, it takes six megabytes to open a Word doc.”


Pay no attention to the Muddy Boots Cafe calendar listing that has the band Elmo Taylor playing there Sunday night.

I was all set to plug the appearance here when Tyler Ferguson, rhythm guitarist for the band, came into Soma Coffee and plopped down next to me.

“So,” I said, “Sunday night at Muddy Boots, eh?”

Elmo Taylor

“What the hell are you talking about?” she snapped. Today seems to be a chocolate day for the usually ebullient Ferg.

It turns out Elmo is not playing at Muddy Boots this weekend. ET junkies take heart: the band is playing at McCormick’s Creek State Park amphitheater at 7:30, Saturday night.

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

Ivy Tech, Bloomington Campus — Breakfast Learning Seriea: Depression, Suicide, and Our Aging Population”; 8am

◗ IU Dowling CenterEnglish Conversation Club, for non-native speakers of American English; 1pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsOpening reception, “Abstracts on Canvas,” by Rick McCoy; 6pm

◗ IU Art MuseumJazz in July, Monika Herzig Acoustic Project; 6:30pm

Monika Herzig

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Oslo, August 31”; 7pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Indiana Boys; 7-9pm

Bloomington SpeedwayIndiana Sprint Week; racing begins at 7:30pm

Oliver WineryLive music, Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel; 7:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterMary Chapin Carpenter; 8pm

◗ IU Musical Arts Center Summer Arts Festival: Symphonic series, works by Strauss, Mahler & Schubert, conducted by Cliff Colnot; 8pm

The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah; 8pm

◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater — Ryder Film Series: “Elles”; 8pm

Juliette Binoche in “Elles”

The Comedy AtticHannibal Buress; 8 & 10:30pm

Cafe DjangoMr. Taylor & His Dirty Dixie Band; 8:15pm

◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 8:45pm

The BluebirdTodd Snider; 9pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Cade Puckett; 9:30-11:30pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
  • Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:


“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in the country. It was caused by a recession as a result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the cause of the deficit, I’ll be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)


Another Ozone Action Day and — a special treat — Monroe County is under a burn ban today.

As you know if you watch Fox News and other bearers of god’s truth, there is no global warming or climate change or human causation behind any weather anomalies. Tree huggers are insane. Recyclers are socialists. This is the way the world is and has always been.

In fact, anthropologists who have been uncovering Neanderthal art have revealed that our ancient cousins were posting Ozone Action Day alerts on cave walls half a million years ago.

Hmm, I’d Better Not Use The Power Mower Today

Take that, liberals!




Bloomington City Council at-large big shot Susan Sandberg loves the Bernie Sanders quote above. (And, no, “at-large” does not imply that she’s on the lam.)

I love it too. I’m thrilled a United States Senator is bold enough to utter such things. OTOH: I’m bummed he’s one of the rare ones.

In fact, while surfing for bios to link to, I came across any number of sites that portray the harmless old bird as a danger to our holy land. One site even posts this image of him:

Commie Zombie Sanders

Here’s why I call Sanders “harmless.” No one has taken a shot at him (and you know what I mean), he hasn’t been torn down by some trumped-up sex charges, and Fox News hardly ever mentions his name. If the Armed Right Wing Loonocracy doesn’t care about you, you may as well be hollering in an open cornfield with nobody around for miles.


If I have to explain the humor behind my “calamari” post on Facebook last night, you’ll never get it anyway.


How cool were the Rascals?

Quit reading this now and go out. Enjoy the day.

The Pencil Today:


“I started being really proud of the fact that I was gay even though I wasn’t.” — Kurt Cobain


Cynthia Nixon became a sorta-star appearing in that late 90s-early 00s paean to heterosexuality, “Sex and the City.” Thus it was ironic that at the very end of the show’s fabulously successful six year run on HBO, Nixon’s romantic involvement with Christine Marinoni became known.

Christine Marinoni And Cynthia Nixon

I don’t know the precise chronology of Nixon’s affair with Marinoni and how it meshed with the producers’ plans for the show, but a suspicious soul might conclude that her lesbian side only “coincidentally” came into view when it was learned S&TC would end its run in 2004.

It just wouldn’t do for one of the leads in a program that celebrates blatant, flamboyant straightness to be identified as homosexual. I mean, would the great John Ford cavalry triology of the 40s and 50s have become so iconic had it been revealed John Wayne was in love with Victor McLaglen?


Since the ending of S&TC and Nixon’s coming out party, she’s been busy acting on the Broadway stage and making appearances here and there on network TV dramas. The disclosure of her current sexual preference clearly has not destroyed her career.

On the other hand, her sig-oth is not someone who could charitably be described as a lipstick lesbian. When, for instance, Ellen Degeneres fell publicly head over heels in love, it was with a couple of stunning actresses, Anne Heche and Portia de Rossi. Ergo, Middle America could deal with her alternative lifestyle.

Mom & Pop Approved

Nixon, though, gazes dreamily into the eyes of a woman who pretty much reinforces the frat boy stereotype of a lesbian. It’d be like Johnny Depp falling in love with RuPaul — it wouldn’t play in Kokomo.

Now, That’s Going Too Far!

Anyway, Nixon doesn’t give a good god damn what Kokomo thinks and that’s cool. Here’s something she told the New York Times not long ago (via Curve magazine):

“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.”

That’s the most refreshing thing I’ve heard in years on the subject of gayness. For far too long the gay community has been pandering in a way to the closeted Republicans and the pious celibates of this holy land.

Gays & Lesbians Want To Justify Themselves To These Simians?

First it was the ten-percent thing, with gay rights activists trumpeting that highly-iffy figure in order to show there are millions and millions of their brothers and sisters, as if there’s safety in numbers.

The first problem is the ten-percent number is about as unscientific as Sen. James Inhofe’s outlook on climate change. Does the figure represent all the DL guys with wives and kids in suburban Indianapolis? How about all the guys who loiter around interstate truck stops and then dash back to the bar to tell their pals they were trolling for chicks? For that matter, did every 22-year-old boy who allowed himself to be seduced by another guy after a keg party own up to his sexuality?

Then there was the medical-psychological argument. Activists showed slides of brain tissue taken from gays and straights and pointed to some missing or extra microscopic structures, proving that homosexuality is an innate trait, much like skin color or the ability to laugh at Kathy Griffin‘s “jokes.”

Like Hemophilia Or Crohn’s Disease

All of it seemed a desperate attempt to prove to the headmasters and nannies of the world that really, honestly, gays and lesbians aren’t bad boys and girls.

There was almost a sense that they couldn’t help being what they were, that they were victims of biology and fate.

Nixon throws a huge F.U. at all that.

For my money, I don’t care if there’s only one gay man or lesbian in these Great United States, Inc. That one human being deserves all the rights, privileges, and respect all the other 300 million or so American folks do.

And another thing. If incontrovertible evidence was found that every single gay man and lesbian merely decided at some point to sleep with someone of the same sex, that wouldn’t change my feelings about same-sex adoptions and gay marriages one little bit.

You Tell ‘Em!

So, go on Cynthia, tell the world you wanted to be a lesbian. And to hell with what the people in Kokomo say.


Alright, climate change deniers: this past March was the warmest on record. By far.

Now, it may have been random chance. There has to be one month that’s the warmest on record; there’s no reason why can’t it be this month or last.

Still, wouldn’t you want to at least make sure it isn’t 200 years of burning fossil fuels that’s messing up our weather?

That’s all I’m saying.

Could It Be?


We all agree that Oprah Winfrey, although admirable in a lot of ways, has a remarkably high opinion of the woman in the mirror, no?

Her initial-ly eponymous magazine features a huge picture of her on its cover every single issue. And, when she was still running her TV talk show, if she happened to, say, get herself a good foot massage, bang — she’d have three experts on the next day advising half the population of America that they must have daily foot rubs or else they’d risk sudden death.

Oprah is arguably the most powerful woman in America, which probably frustrates her because the issue is still in question.

Anyway, take a look at her latest magazine cover and try to convince me Oprah hasn’t really gone off the deep end. The woman is crazy in love — with herself.


Now just one Oprah isn’t good enough for the cover. This Photoshopped May-December romance probably has every psychologist and psychiatrist in the nation running for a copy of the DSM-IV.

Perhaps the soon-to-be-released DSM-V will have its own section on Oprah’s auto-mania.

Here’s a thought: would anyone be surprised if Oprah Winfrey took a run at the presidency in 2016? And how about this fever dream: not only does Oprah run for the Dem nom, Sarah Palin seeks the GOP tab? And they both make it!

I don’t care how madly in love with herself Oprah falls, I’d still vote for her.


Dedicated by you-know-who to you-know-who.

The Pencil Today:


“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” — Bob Dylan


Okay, so we’re in the midst of a more-than week-long run of high temperatures in South Central Indiana. Each day’s high during this streak has been about 30 degrees above the normal. Monday, the high was a full five degrees greater than the previous record for that date.

Think about that. Usually, when record highs are set they beat the old record by a single degree, and if the heat wave is amazingly severe, perhaps two.

Five degrees.

Except for the deluded and deranged among us (in other words, Republicans) who deny the evidence of climate change, everybody’s talking global warming.

Lois Nettleton Schvitzes in The Twilight Zone Episode “The Midnight Sun”

Here’s where my professional contrarianism kicks into high gear. Generally, during weather extremes I caution people not to see the anomaly as evidence of the norm. In other words, just because today’s remarkably hot, it’s not proof the climate is changing.

Besides, climatologists see global warming as a half-degree, a degree, or maybe two-degree uptick in the average temperature over a period of years. It’s the sustained rising of temperatures that’s dangerous, not the odd heat wave.

But this thing is making me think twice. The new battle cry to replace global warming should be global weirding.

I admit this is anecdotal but something I heard this morning on the radio gave me pause. Apparently, a huge storm system parked over Texas produced thunder so severe that it caused seismic instruments to jump.

Now think about that.

Fine-tuned, delicately balanced sensors that measure the very slightest rumpling from deep within the Earth’s crust recorded thunder claps. These instruments are not supposed to be affected by outside clutter. Yet the needles flicked because of thunder

What in the hell kind of storm is that?

Storm Batters Kentucky Earlier This Month

I’m in a hurry this morning and I can’t spend the time researching this. Maybe seismographs record thunder claps all the time. I don’t know. I’ll get on it tonight after my Book Corner shift.

For now, though, I just might be beginning to think 2012 is the year we justifiably get the crap scared out of us by nature.


So, Dan the Jeweler, Crystal Belladonna, and I were gabbing of this and that at the Book Corner yesterday. Somehow the conversation turned to the year 1969. And somehow it turned to public porn.

Why don’t I just give you the dialogue from memory?

Crystal Belladonna (rummaging through the magazine shelves, weeding out old issues): Look at this — November 2011. What’s this doing here? It’s 2012, isn’t it?

Me: Why no. It’s 1969. Man, I’m gonna go to that big Woodstock thing in New York. And I can’t wait for the moon landing.

CB: Wise ass.

Dan the Jeweler: Do you remember where you were during the moon landing?

CB: I wasn’t even a twinkle yet.

Me: It was a Sunday night. I was staring at the moon just on the odd chance that I could see something, like the Command Module rocket firing or something.

CB: Geek.

D the J: Believe it or not, that night me and my friends were at an outdoor pornographic movie. We left it and drove around to look for a TV so we could watch the landing.

CB: I know just what outdoor theater you’re talking about!

D the J: It was on Route 46, on the way to Ellettsville. It was an outdoor pornographic theater for years. Right next to a trailer park.

CB: Yeah, yeah! Whenever my mother would drive by it at night, I’d strain my neck to see the screen.

D the J: Yep. The fence had gaps in it.

CB: Uh huh!

D the J: It was near a railroad crossing and when a coal train was going by, traffic would be backed up all the way to Bloomington.

CB: Yeah, my mother would always wonder why I’d be saying, “Ma, could you move the car up just a bit?”

D the J: It’s not there now.

CB: No, they knocked it down. There’s an old people’s home there now.

Who says people don’t have a rich sense of history anymore?

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