Category Archives: Jessica Lucas

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution tomorrow morning.” — Henry Ford

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS: THE BATTLE OF STARBUCKS

Brain maven Alex Straiker was in a chatty mood this morning, for which I detested him. I hadn’t had my life giving dose of Sumatra yet and therefore was in no position to tolerate the very existence of Straiker or anybody else, much less hear anything he or they had to say.

But good old Alex persisted. And give me credit; I didn’t assault or batter him. I must like the fellow.

Lucky Guy

Anyway, he asked, “Did you see what happened at the Starbucks?”

I concealed my abhorrence of his presence enough to grunt in the negative. “Yeah,” he said, “someone smashed the window.”

Fortunately for him my caffeine fix arrived at that moment. I took a deep gulp. As if by magic, I felt I could bear the existence of certain humans, of which he is one.

“What happened?” I asked. “What was it all about?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Anti-corporate radicals?” He smirked.

“Aha! May Day,” I concluded. “The revolution is starting.”

The Battle Has Been Joined

“Perhaps,” Alex said. “But it’s May 6th.”

“There is that,” I allowed. “When did it happen?”

“Last night, I assume.”

“Maybe they were late.”

Good scientist that he is, Alex eyed me skeptically. “Well, I suppose that’s possible,” he said, which is code for “That’s stupid.”

Riot!

Not having my digital camera with me, I borrowed his iPhone and trundled off to Indiana Avenue where the Starbuck’s in question faces the Sample Gates. I clicked away at the devastation for publication in this up-to-the-nano-second media colossus. No one scoops the Electron Pencil.

While waddling back to Soma Coffee I mused about what I would say upon receiving my Pulitzer Prize for recording the opening shot in the Great War Against the Corporations.

“I’d Like To Thank….”

Back at Soma, Alex and The Loved One sat waiting for me. “So,” T-LO asked, “What do you think?”

By this time, perspective had elbowed its way back into my thinking processes. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, it could have been just another incident of vandalism. I felt let down.

Alex said, “Did you notice the smell in there?”

No, I told him, I hadn’t gone in.

“There was a horrible smell. They said there was a problem with the ovens, as well. It smelled like burned plastic.”

A lightbulb went off over T-LO’s head. “I’ve got it,” she announced. “They were stoners. They smashed their way into the place and put some food in the oven. But being stupid and stoned, they didn’t realize that you shouldn’t put plastic in a hot oven.”

“Dude, I Got The Munchies.”

Alex nodded. Her theory seemed distinctly more reasonable than my revolution story. Still, I persisted. “Hey, there’s a long history of revolutionary action (read: rationalized vandalism) in this town,” I said. I reminded them of the rough welcome both Starbucks and McDonald’s got when they opened up shop in downtown Bloomington some 12 years ago. Windows were routinely smashed and radical graffiti was spray painted on their walls.

It was clear, though, that neither T-Lo nor Alex was willing to grant another iota of credence to the idea anymore.

By and by, T-LO and I said our goodbyes to the Soma gang. I suggested we walk past the Starbuck’s. Early Sunday morning coffee sippers sat calmly in its outdoor cafe seats. Birds tweeted, the sun shone, joggers huffed past. Revolution was not in the air. Nobody seemed to notice the board-up job on the Starbuck’s storefront.

I shrugged and said, “Well, it wasn’t crazy to think it was a revolution, was it?”

“I Mean, It Could Happen, Couldn’t It?”

T-LO had the good grace not to respond. George Bull, a long-time IU staffer, now retired, coasted up on his snazzy new bike. I pointed out the boarded-up window. “Oh,” he said, “I hadn’t even noticed.”

“I thought it might have been radicals,” I said.

“Hmm,” he said. “Looks more like childish overexuberance on graduation day.”

Sheesh. These people sure know how to throw cold water on a good scoop.

PRETTY PICTURES — HARD SCIENCE

Speaking of Straiker (which sounds like a good name for a blog — I’d better copyright it), he tells us plans have been finalized for an innovative art exhibit at the SOFA Grunwald Gallery. Set to open in August, 2013, the show will be a collaboration between scientists and artists.

Straiker says with the new developments in microscopic imaging for scientific researchers, the potential for compelling art is ripe to be explored. Straiker and a couple of colleagues, Jim Miller, also of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, and the botanist Jessica Lucas, have their own exhibit of images on display at Finch’s Brasserie.

Photo Microscopy Image Of Plant Root Hairs By Jessica Lucas

“But we’re just dabblers,” Straiker says. “We’ll partner with real artists for this show. It should be interesting.”

Jim Powers, manager of the IU Light Microscopy Imaging Center, and Lucas, as well as some geologists and a few other scientific researchers, all are slated to participate in the show.

SCIENCE CAFE UPDATE

BTW: Straiker also revealed this morning that the Science Cafe, originally scheduled to resume sessions last month, has been tabled until September. “Everybody wanted to do it in the fall,” Straiker explained. “It’s not easy getting these scientists together on anything. It’s like herding cats.”

The Science Cafe will be held monthly at Rachael’s Cafe. Each session will feature a researcher speaking about a specific topic. The idea is to bring science to the public. I can’t wait.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2012

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

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

Angela Hendrix-Petry With Chloe & Jasper

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsExhibit, Daniel Lager; through May 17th

The Solution LabConference, Bloomington Startup Weekend, for developers, designers, entrepreneurs, etc.; through Sunday

Cafe DjangoBrunch guitar, Peter Kienie; 11am-1pm

Sembower FieldIUBaseball vs. Nebraska; 1pm

TC Steele State Historic SiteSunday Hiking Series: The Birds and the Trees for Nature Lovers, led by IU’s Jules Erwin; 1-3pm

Monroe County History CenterReception, Historic Preservation Month, keynote address by Duncan Campbell of Ball State University’s Center for Historic Preservation; exhibit, Bloomington Fading photos; 3pm

Bloomington Fading

IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture CenterListening & dancing to Ritmos Unidos; 4pm

Emeriti HouseJuried art show, works by retired IU faculty and staff; 5:30-7:30pm

The Player’s PubRichard Dugger Band; 6pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series, “444 The Last day on Earth”; 7pm

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.” — Criswell

ROLLING INTO THE 2012 SEASON

Wait, what? You weren’t there Saturday night? Come on, people — what’s the matter with you?

Tools Of The Trade

The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls opened their 2012 regular season at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center. The place was packed, I tell you.

Bloomington’s two traveling derby teams, the B-league Code Blue Assassins and the A-league Flatliners faced off against their counterparts from the Ohio Roller Girls. The CBAs staged a thrilling rally in the final three minutes to overtake Gang Green in the opening bout. The Flatliners, though, fell behind early in the first half and, despite mounting a comeback of their own, couldn’t catch Ohio by the final buzzer, losing 115-90.

The BHRG actually has a mascot now and the kids in the crowd loved it. The mascot doesn’t have a name yet so you might just want to get on over to the team’s Facebook page and make a suggestion. And, hey, the Roller Girls’ ads are becoming slick enough to stand up against the best Apple or Ford has to offer. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a bit. Check out this one for Saturday’s bout:

Wily veteran Truly F Obvious was roaming the roller colosseum Saturday night, natch. She’s retired this year after breaking her arm a couple of times last season. She proudly showed me her scar. She’s got a few bucks’ worth of hardware implanted in her now, holding her radius and ulna together for the rest of her life. Truly made me grasp her forearm, then she twisted it so I could feel the iron. I almost passed out.

Battle Scar

Bleeding Heartland, now in its sixth season, is getting better every year. They were ranked 16th in the North Central region of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association in 2010 and jumped to 13th last year. Could this be the year they crack the top 10?

Their next home bout is Saturday, March 31st, against the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls of Grand Rapids, Michigan. If I don’t see you there, I’ll assume you’re dead. What kind of flowers should I send?

PRESIDENT MITCH DANIELS REVEALED TO BE A KOCHOMATON

There’s still a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on the line for the lucky aspiring wag who submits the best prediction of how nuts the Republicans will become by the 2016 presidential race (if you click the link, scroll down to “C’mon, Let’s Play”).

I’m figuring the GOP will be trying to decide between Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump for the nomination. The Dems — book it — will be running Chelsea Clinton.

See? You can let yourself get crazy — just like the GOP!

If you think the party that once claimed Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt as standard-bearers is psycho now, just wait. What are they gonna wanna outlaw next, breasts?

GOP 2016 Slogan: “No Mamms!”

One entrant, Susan Sandberg, worries that the Republicans will run Mitch Daniels in four years. He’ll win, she says, and turn this holy land into a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually-starved country.”

Eek.

Bloomington’s own singing sensation Krista Detor submitted her nightmare scenario that builds on Sandberg’s dystopia. Detor writes, “… in 2018, a resistance fighter will be propelled back in time to alert us to the hard truth that Mr. Daniels is actually a cannibalistic automaton, controlled on alternating days by the Koch Bros.” Detor writes a happy ending, though. The resistance fighter will slay Daniels in a light-sabre battle. The Dreamworks people will want to make a movie based on the story and will beg Krista to score it. But our own plucky musical muse will turn them down so she can work for the 2020 presidential campaign of Lucy Lawless.

BTW: Krista Detor coined what might become the most fabulous word in the English language (after the F-bomb, of course.) She calls the android Daniels a Kochomaton.

I hope her vision comes true just so we can use that word regularly.

To enter the contest email me, post it on my Facebook wall, or click on Leave A Comment at the top left of this page.

SCIENCE AS ART

Here’s what you ought to do Wednesday from 6:30-8:00pm: mad scientists Alex Straiker and Jessica Lucas will host an opening reception for their artwork at Finch’s Brasserie.

Straiker will feature photomicroscopy of stained brain cells. He studies the effects of cannabinoids on the brain at the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. Lucas has taken magnificent photos of teensy botanical structures as part of her work in the IU Biology Department.

Plant Root Hairs

Science is fun — and gorgeous. Drop by and ogle the art. If you’re not there, we’ll talk about you.

CHICAGO (THAT TODDLIN’ TOWN)

Man, when I was just starting out in this writing racket, I’d be pounding the Chicago pavement, knocking on doors at the Tribune, the Sun-Times, Chicago mag, the Reader and all the rest, trying to convince any soft-hearted or desperate editor to take a chance on me.

That was back in the mid-80s, before the internet, before the 24-hour news cycle. Dig: I even used a typewriter at the time. Smith-Corona, baby.

Jeez, I’m Old

At the end of any typical day, after getting thrown out of half the editors’ offices in town, I might need some liquid comfort.

If I wanted to cry in my beer with Jeff the Bartender (who was a fine writer and academician in his own right), I’d do Billy Goat’s Tavern under Michigan Avenue.

Every time the door would open, I’d check to see if the Prince of the Papers, Mike Royko, was coming in. Maybe, just maybe, if he could hear what a whippet-quick wit I was, if I could toss off some devastating bon mot, Royko might pull me aside and say, “Y’know what, kid? You got the stuff.”

Never happened.

Royko

If I just wanted hear music and hang around lesser media lights and TV anchors, I’d hit Andy’s Jazz Club on Hubbard Street. If I was lucky, Barrett Deems, Louis Armstrong’s old drummer, might be hitting the skins. It’d be too loud for me to display my verbal chops and, besides, I knew enough to know TV people’d never be interested in me. So I just drank my gin and tonics and floated on the sounds.

This version of “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by the Oscar Peterson Trio reminds me of those days downtown. The city was everything I’d dreamed it would be back then. Any door in the world could open up for me if only I kept knocking.

Chicago and I celebrated birthdays yesterday — the Windy City turned 175 and I hit 56. Now I know the best door that ever opened was the one that let me in me here, little old Bloomington, Indiana. Go figure.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I can’t understand looking forward to seeing a commercial.” — Paula Poundstone

A NATION OF AD PIMPS

A word of explanation about the quote above. Poundstone on this morning’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” was talking about how a grocery checkout clerk was shocked that she had neither watched the Super Bowl nor cared a bit about the telecast. “Not even the commercials?” the clerk gasped.

Poundstone later concluded, “No wonder we’re going downhill.”

Guess what — she’s freakin’ right!

LAND OF THE FREE(-ISH)

Like many Americans, I complain a lot about many things.

Admittedly, there’s much to complain about and I needn’t run down that list here for the three thousandth time. If you’ve been reading these screeds, you know where I stand on everything from “Two and a Half Men” to the corporatization of this holy land.

The Golden Arches-Spangled Banner

We’re a complaining bunch, we Americans. Louis CK does a terrific bit about how impatient and demanding we are. He talks about a guy saying he hates — hates — Verizon because a couple of his calls had been dropped. He refers to a woman saying she was once forced to sit in an airplane on a runway for 40 minutes before it took off, and described it as the worst day of her life.

Louis points out, correctly, that both cell phone technology and human flight are virtual miracles that we should be amazed to partake of. He challenges the person who hates Verizon to create his own cell phone network and see how close he can come to perfection in its operation. Then he riffs on the woman, saying the airplane, of course, did take off and she was sitting in a chair in the sky like the Greek gods did, moving from New York to Los Angeles in a matter of hours, a trip that at one time took years.

High Above Omaha

We do forget what a special time we live in, especially in this very, very privileged nation.

Even in the wake of the Great Recession, we have plenty to eat, we have cars, we have warm homes, we have cable, and, yes, we have cell phones.

The latest estimate by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization holds that in 2010, 925 million people were hungry in the world. That’s a shade below one of every seven human beings alive.

Even in these hard times, we’re doing pretty well here.

So, I figured I’d say something positive today.

I woke up in the middle of the night Wednesday. I couldn’t get back to sleep and yet I was too tired to read, so I clicked on Netflix to watch a movie. I selected something called “Death of a President,” a pseudo-documentary that was made in 2006.

The movie deals with a trip of then-President George W. Bush to Chicago to deliver a speech to a gathering of big shot business leaders. As he walks out of the Sheraton Hotel after the speech, he is shot twice in the chest by an unknown gunman. He is rushed to the hospital where he dies after several hours of surgery.

The FBI and the Chicago police beat the bushes to to find the shooter and after a couple of weeks settle on a Syrian-born, nationalized American citizen.

This fellow, Jamal Abu Zikri, once traveled back to the Middle East to study Islam at an ill-defined camp which turned out to be an al Qaeda training center. He was threatened with death if he attempted to leave the camp but eventually found a way to escape and returned to his home and wife in Chicago.

In the hysteria following the assassination, authorities cobble together some iffy evidence and, depending mainly on Zikri’s supposed connection to al Qaeda, get him convicted of the crime. In the meantime, new President Dick Cheney pushes through a third Patriot Act that allows the government even greater latitude in spying on and detaining suspected terrorists. Cheney also pushes the CIA hard to find connections between the Syrian government and the assassination.

I’m not telegraphing the ending by saying doubt is cast on everybody’s motives.

The movie is more about emotionalism, fear, rage, prejudice, xenophobia, vengeance, jingoism, radical hyperbole, and, essentially, every destructive trait that exists today in these Great United States, Inc. than the actual act of killing the president.

These destructive traits threaten to grow exponentially until they suffocate us.

“Death of a President” is not flattering to us. The US Chamber of Congress did not push it for an Oscar.

Still it ran in theaters here. And it’s a standard offering on such an innocuous service as Netflix.

That says a lot about America — maybe as much as “Two and a Half Men” and the corporatization of this holy land do.

I refer back to Louis CK who cracks that people in certain other nations wake up some mornings and say “Uh oh, today’s the day we get our heads cut off.”

Can you imagine movies depicting the killings of Hu Jintao, Manmohan Singh, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Dilma Rousseff, Yousaf Gillani, Vladimir Putin, Sheikh Hasina, and Yoshihiko Noda?

“Nyet.”

They are the bosses of the ten most populated nations on Earth, minus the United States. The people they boss constitute fully 53 percent of the people on this planet.

These 3.7 billion people, I suspect, would not be permitted to view a movie of such an uncomplimentary nature, much less one that allows the possibility that any of those nine dear leaders could be offed.

And keep in mind I haven’t included several billion other souls who live under a rogue’s gallery of minor despots, tyrants, and sadists.

I don’t like where we’re headed in these United States. I also know we still have a hell of a lot of freedom and latitude.

It’s worth remembering that now and then.

THE ART OF THE MICROSCOPE

Brain scientist Alex Straiker’s microscopy-based artwork will be on display in March at Finch’s Brasserie here in Bloomington. He’ll share the stage (or, more accurately, the easel) with award-winning botanical microscopist Jessica Lucas.

Straiker studies the effects of cannabinoids on the brain at Indiana University’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Lucas is a researcher and outreach educator in the Shaw Lab at IU’s Biology Department.

Jessica Lucas’s Image Of A Fast-Growing Seedling

Alex and his lab-mates treat mice to mega-doses of THC and then check their brain structures to determine, among other things, why they crave White Castle sliders for hours afterward.

Straiker’s striking images have appeared on this site several times already in our short history. Watch this space to find out the date of the opening reception for his show.

JAZZ TIMES

Tune in to WFIU Monday afternoon for David Brent Johnson‘s “Just You and Me” daily jazz show.

DBJ And His Special Gal

DBJ tells me he plans to feature the jazz Grammy award winners Monday. The Grammy awards will be presented Sunday night in New York.

“Just You and Me” begins at 3:30 and runs for an hour and a half. It’s a good bet DBJ will be spinning loads of Roseanna Vitro and Kurt Elling.

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