Category Archives: Joy Shayne Laughter

Hot Air

Firehouse Politicking

The WFHB gang got together for its annual meeting this afternoon at the Monroe County History Center. A quintet of candidates stood for election to the Board of Directors and four of them sat before a crowd of volunteers prior to the meeting’s official start to explain to them (the vols) why they (the cands) should be elected.


The four were on their best behavior and told the multitude what good citizens and lovers of community radio they were. Q’s were fielded and the only one that hit home with me was Music Director Jim Manion’s: “Other non-profits specifically charge their Boards with the task of fundraising. Some organizations even give their Board members fund-raising quotas. What would you do to improve fundraising for Firehouse Radio?”

None of the candidates was able to say something on the order of “Hey, no prob. I’ll put the touch on three or four millionaire friends and colleagues of mine.”

Which, BTW, is the primary qualification for membership on many a Board.

Anyway, the new Board members who, presumably, won’t be bringing in any five- or six-figure donation checks this coming year are Markus Lowe, William Morris (Brother William to his listeners), and Kelly Wherley.

They and the rest of the Board this coming year will have to figure out ways to goose the station’s fundraising numbers.

Pay Cagle’s Way

Soon-to-be Bloomington expat Mike Cagle wants your dough. He’s jumping on the crowd-funding bandwagon to facilitate his move west to study law.

Only Cagle will toss a premium your way if you pitch cash at him. See, he’s a crackerjack cartoonist, as anybody who’s anybody in this town would know. So if you empty your coin pouch into his PayPal swag bag (or whatever online money laundering service he’s using), he’ll  present you with an original, signed work of art. Something like this:

Cagle Art

A Cagle Poster For Krampus 2013

Cagle, of course, is not the only crowd-funder in town. Ink-stained wretch Shayne Laughter had the cyber-hand out for spare change to fund her residency this summer at the Can Serrat artists’ colony in Spain. Shayne will depart in two weeks for Iberia where she’ll work on XXXXX surrounded by the gorgeous trees and hills of the Penedes wine-growing region. God, I hate her.

Anyway, help these artists if you’ve got some disposable lettuce. Look at it this way: It’s better than throwing  a C-note or more a month at Comcast just so’s you can watch reruns of Two and a Half Men.

Saty tuned for a link to Cagle’s alms cup. He’s busy setting it up as we speak.

Hot Air


How excited are you about that new politico-memoir, A Fighting Chance, written by Elizabeth Warren?

Warren’s the coolest human in politics these days. I’d love to live in world wherein she’d be the queen. OTOH: I don’t want to see her get within a mile of the Oval Office. People who have a fighting chance, to borrow a phrase, of becoming president must compromise themselves into a certain near-nothingness, witness one Barack H. O.


Tough Dame

The Devil has in his safety deposit box the souls of some 43 presidents as well as all the real challengers they faced before becoming the boss of this holy land. And don’t correct me on the no. of presidents — Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, ergo he’s counted as two of ’em.

Anyway, I want Warren on the outside, fighting the good fight. So far, she’s the best there is at that job.

Pencil Logrolling

If you don’t read the Comments section of this communications colossus you might have missed this from yesterday:

Shameless Related Promotions Department: I’m working with my dear friend and doc-film collaborator Nadeem Uddin to get his lifelong project finished this year, the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal gas leak disaster. If you ever wondered what a major chemical attack would look like in a densely populated civilian area, this is it.

We’re currently setting up an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the second segment, which looks at how a child exposed to the gas in 1984 has passed on genetic defects to his children.

PS – Nadeem is coming to town for a visit in late May. Anyone interested in a screening of footage and some Q&A?

The comment is from Penicillista and great friend, Shayne Laughter. If she’s in on a project — or even if she merely gives it her blessing — you know it’s the real deal and worth your while.

Mid-Life Adventure

One of our town’s most compelling figures, cartoonist Mike Cagle, is shipping off to Oregon this summer. He’ll begin the 2014-15 term as a student at Lewis & Clark Law School. He sez he just may want to practice public interest law.

How can you not love B-town when this burgh is populated by folks like Mike. Our loss is the world’s gain.

Sterling Redux

I wiped the floor with Donald Sterling yesterday, natch. The only thing right-thinking folk might quibble with was my assertion that Sterling should not be officially punished for utterances in, presumably, his private home where he was being recorded without his knowledge. That, friends, is thought crime.

Now, don’t have a fit; I fully support a boycott of his Los Angeles Clippers games. He’s a bad man in so many ways I’ve run out of fingers and toes and facial hairs to count them. The sooner his evil soul departs his body, the better. But, again, human beings should not be persecuted or prosecuted by any authority for the hate in their hearts.

Or, as Bill Maher says, “Calm down. Being an asshole is still legal.”

Oh, BTW, Sterling is a Republican. Registered. Who’da thunk it?

And, to make this farce even more ridiculous, certain conservative groups and publications are trying to spread the lie that’s he’s a Dem! We live in a weird, weird country, kiddies.

Large And In Charge

And, speaking of posterior orifices, our gal Sarah Palin bleated this past weekend before the assembled multitudes at the NRA’s annual fapfest, held this year in Indy.

And, again, just like yesterday when I took the bullet for you by listening to the Sterling tape, I did it again by listening to Palin’s speech. Babies, I am your freakin’ he-ro!

The gist of her shrieking could be summarized in the quote, “If I were in charge….”

No word yet if audience members began masturbating furiously in their seats upon hearing this most risible sentiment.


We all have heard her marvy quote about waterboarding being the way “we baptize terrorists.” Nuts, right? But did you catch her statement that, again, if she were in charge, she’d be standin’ tall right there in the Ukraine and she’d have stopped Putin from making his land grabs?

Swear to god, this piece of work sees herself as something like that Chinese kid who stood before the line of tanks in Tiananmen Sq. back in 1989.

Okay, that’s my report on Palin. That’s plenty of heroism for this big boy for one weekend. I’ll be going off to check myself in for battle fatigue treatment now.

Hot Air-waves III

WFHB: A Spot Of Joy In The GM Dust-up

Everybody’s got a dog in this race.

WFHB Button

The selection of Kevin Culbertson as new general manager of WFHB touched plenty of raw nerves among the community radio station’s volunteer membership. Those who host shows or otherwise contribute to the on-air product at Firehouse Broadcasting have mixed it up with each other as well as with folks who haven’t really thought much about the 20-year old Bloomington non-profit until now.

The good news is people are thinking about WFHB more than ever before. Those who love the station hope that will translate into more participation and — gasp! — more contributions.

The Pencil broke the news Friday morning that Culbertson had been hired. WFHB’s Board of Directors followed a few hours later with its official announcement. Activist volunteer member and former Board member himself Hondo Thompson didn’t like the selection one little bit. His bill of particulars against Culbertson ran here as well.

The next thing anybody knew, a new Facebook group called Friends of WFHB had been started. As of this morning, it has about 150 members with that number growing by the minute. WFHB is the talk of the town.

Friends of WFHB

And the Pencil aims to keep it that way. We’ve been covered the GM search for months. Stay tuned here and on Friends of WFHB for further developments.

Our good friend Joy Shayne Laughter told the Pencil she was working on a response to Hondo Saturday night. We invited her to run it here and she’s graciously agreed to do so. Here it is:

I have a feeling that friends and volunteers at WFHB are learning more about their participation rights this week than they ever have before.

Of course the fuel for this blaze of interest has been the drawn-out search for a new General Manager, and the match tossed into the tank was Hondo Thompson’s essay published here on November 6.

I am glad Hondo did his digging and paid for a company to do a background check on the finalist candidate for WFHB General Manager. The piece stirred up a lot of questions for me, since I am a longtime WFHB volunteer, news reporter, and was on the GM Search Committee, just as Hondo was.  Just like Hondo, I had privileged, confidential access to Culbertson’s resume. Unlike Hondo, I was present at both of Culbertson’s interviews.

I sorely wish these issues had been made available to the Search Committee and the Board BEFORE the Board’s hiring decision on October 28th, and not AFTER.  I have had a few conversations with WFHB Board President Joe Estivill, and he said he received the results of Hondo’s digging on November 5th — more than a week after the Board’s vote. It would have been completely appropriate and welcome for a member of the Search Committee to say, “Hey, wait a minute,” much earlier, and make us aware of further questions to ask our candidate, either at the final interview or the Board’s hiring discussion. I really wish that had happened.

Estivill made a call to Culbertson on the night of November 5th, and asked direct, hard questions about everything Hondo found. Estivill relayed the issues and Culbertson’s answers to the rest of the Board within 24 hours. According to Estivill, the Board felt that the facts behind these issues did not affect their decision, so no further action was taken.  
That being the case, it’s possible that the facts of the matter — coming from the source — mean things are not as dire as Hondo wants all of us to believe.

Here is the troubling matter for me. While Estivill was still informing the Board of the issues and Culbertson’s responses, Hondo submitted his piece to the Electron Pencil – without having any knowledge of Culbertson’s side of the story.

That makes Hondo’s piece an op-ed, a highly personal and emotional response — not journalism, not reporting, and just barely factual.

As Big Mike told us in the opening paragraph of that post, the piece is “non-authoritative … impressions” about a decision that had not even been made public yet — it was still a close secret among the WFHB Board, set for release that afternoon.

Everyone is free to have an opinion. Everyone is free to express an opinion. Everyone is free to have emotions about a situation they are involved in. Everyone is free to make a call to action that they believe is necessary.

Those who read or hear that opinion and that call have the responsibility to read with discernment and thought. And they have the right to question what they read.

Of course my own initial reaction to Hondo’s piece was sharp dismay, as I was one who interviewed Culbertson initially and had highly positive impressions of his resume, experience and personality. I went through all of Hondo’s links and was left wondering. None of the linked articles gives any account of Culbertson’s actions that support Hondo’s narrative and warning call.

How does Hondo know, to such an intimate degree, what Culbertson’s motives and moves were, during his 30 year career and the failure of a few small, low-power station ventures? (I would like to know what the WFHB Board heard from Culbertson that reconciled them with these failures, I really would. I hope I do.)

Only the KHHB articles from Hilo, HI quote Culbertson at all. The first two are complimentary, and the last three describe the murky legalities around the sale of the station and the disappointment that Culbertson’s plans for a hyper-local TV station just didn’t pan out. (I hope to hear that sale deal explained in detail, because it sounded like it anticipated an expected FCC ruling that would relax regulations and make it legal. I know businesses of a certain size conduct deals this way all the time, but still.)

The KEEN link is to a Wikipedia entry that doesn’t even mention Culbertson. The KEEN FCC violation notice says that KEEN “was late by six days in filing its children’s television programming report for the second quarter of 2004.”

This is a hanging offense? Or would it sharpen Culbertson’s resolve to make damn sure it never happened again on his watch? What would you do, as a professional, with this on your record?

The WXOC links only show general market data and that the station’s license was cancelled.  
The current Google result for WXOC reads:

“WXOC-LP is a low-power television station in Ocean City, Maryland, broadcasting on local UHF channel 63 and virtual channel 26. Founded in 2003, it licensed to WXOC, LLC. It is an affiliate of Me-TV, a television network that airs classic television sitcoms, dramas and classic commercials from the 1950s through the 1980s. Started in Chicago, Illinois in 2005, Me-TV’s classic TV format was created to present a wide variety of the iconic series, stars and genres that have defined pop culture and television for decades. Its sitcom program list includes “M*A*S*H,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “I Love Lucy” and “The Bob Newhart Show.” Dramas on the network include “Perry Mason,” “The Big Valley,” and the original “Hawaii Five-O” series.   Visit the TV station’s website Network: Me-TV WXOC-LP Digital Channel: 63”

There is no factual indication in any of this that WXOC “was operating just fine” (as Hondo asserts) for eight years before Culbertson became its owner. There are no archived articles anywhere on the net that show it had any kind of relationship with its market. So what did the station ever do? What was the license that was cancelled? Possibly an analog broadcasting license, I don’t know.  We will have to ask Culbertson about that in person. If we do ask, he will probably also explain why WXOC is not on his resume. That would be nice to know. Still, I’m not sure why a station’s change of platform and ownership justify such harsh judgment on the former owner.

Hondo also holds these details as grounds for suspicion (his words):

◗ 17 different addresses in seven separate states
◗ A filed Chapter 7 (full liquidation) bankruptcy in Arizona in 2010

Me, I’ve lived in three separate states at more than 20 different addresses (ten in Indiana, ten or twelve in Washington, and three in New York). I also filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and I bet many readers of this blog have been there as well. If traveling around for work and school and hitting a rough financial patch are so common, why should they be criminal indicators when Culbertson does them?

Then there’s the whole Christian broadcasting scare. You know what?

I could not care less.

Why? First, if Culbertson were out to evangelize Bloomington through radio, he would have applied to WVNI Spirit 95.

Second — and I said this in the comment thread of Hondo’s piece — WFHB is set up to prevent takeover by a third party. The GM has no ownership rights. The Board elections are set up to keep terms staggered, so no group can swoop in and create an instant majority.  And (as they are already demonstrating) the WFHB membership would be three-deep dead in the streets before they allowed such a takeover to even bubble up.

Third, consider this: One of WFHB’s stalwart news show producers served proudly in the military, and I cannot think of anyone who is less of a warmonger — in fact she is a fighter for peace and tolerance. I know a lot of other military veterans who are peaceniks, and my two decades in corporate administration left me with an allergy to cubicles. So evidently, where you work for a while — even out of interest or conviction — does not mean THAT is what you are, forever after.   

This is where my discerning reading of Hondo’s op-ed turned into critical dissection — because I really dislike witch-hunts. I have seen witch-hunts conducted by Buddhists, Unitarians and LGBT pagans, corporate offices and New-Age fluffbunnies, and the smoky fragrance is familiar.

One thing that I like about Bloomington is that although there is a lot of Christian real estate around here — and individual assholes do emerge — the population by and large is far more invested in service than in sales pitch. Look at Monroe County United Ministries, the Interfaith Shelter, the shelter work at First Christian Church, Shalom’s first home at First Methodist. The walk matters more than the talk.

I have spent time with Kevin Culbertson in interviews and drove him around town to introduce him to Bloomington. My own impression of Culbertson is that he is a Bloomington kind of Christian. Service, not sales pitch.

As an aside, WFHB needs to increase its listener (and donor) base beyond Bloomington into our six-county broadcast area, a region which is awfully rural and deeply-churched. Would it really hurt the station so much if the GM has insight into how this potential listenership thinks?

I have no idea whether Kevin Culbertson will work out in the long run as GM for WFHB. I have a lot of questions remaining, from reading Hondo’s op-ed.  But I am willing to give the guy a chance — mainly because the WFHB Board is populated by grownups with deep experience as responsible professionals in their fields, with a lot of non-profit experience between them. The majority of them are active broadcasters at WFHB. They are not fools, nor are they naïve, and through the development of the Strategic Plan they are well-versed in what the station needs to do to grow and thrive in the next 20 years. Also, there’s that personal contact with Culbertson that I had as part of the Search Committee. I encountered a real human being. I believe that when I ask the questions I need to ask, he’s going to respond like a human being.

Part of the opportunity in this moment is for the WFHB community of volunteers to step up to fill empty Board seats, commit to committees, and actually show up for Membership meetings. Now that we have your attention, the governance and by-laws documents for WFHB are available to all here (scroll down to find the pdfs. Info on the Board is here (at the bottom of the page; note: “Pam Raider” should read “Pam Davidson.”) Volunteer orientation is the first Saturday of every month at 11 am at the Firehouse, Quarterly Meeting minutes are here. Finally, Strategic Plan documents are here. Also see Facebook group Friends of WFHB.

I still think Hondo was right to do his digging. I just wish he had done it a month earlier. As a dear old friend of mine whispered in my ear yesterday, “Bless the agitators – without them, the laundry would never get clean.”

Shayne Laughter
Co-anchor at WFHB Daily Local News

As of this moment, The Pencil is trying to reach Kevin Culbertson. We hope he’ll agree to introduce himself to the community here.

Hot Airedales

Hanging In There

Ju-u-u-u-ust wondering: What if a noted B-town expatriate who is now an ex-expatriate wanted his old job back here?

And what if that old job, mirabile dictu, is still open from the time that ex-expat left this glorious metrop.?

What might happen?

Would the governing board of the local cultural institution communicate through winks and nudges that, although the ex-expat would have to go through the formality of the application and interview process that all other seekers of that plum-ish job have endured, he might as well start hanging his awards back up on his old office walls? Those board members who will vote on the job vacancy wouldn’t be letting the other applicants hang like chads?

Or would they?


Who Doesn’t Love Dalmatians?

More, More, More

Staying on the local scene, yet another of our ink-stained wretches, Joy Shayne Laughter, tells me poet/Superman Tony Brewer actually has published three books now. I neglected to mention yesterday his first book, The Great American Scapegoat.

Hurts So Good

Alright, this is really whacked, so bear with me. Ever since I emerged from my blissful, childlike slumber at the age of 11 in 1967 and became a Cubs fan, I have endured precisely 3869 of their regular season losses. In addition, my heart was broken a total of 19 times in those rare years the Cubs qualified for post-season play.

That’s right, my beloved Cubs have proven themselves inferior nearly 4000 times since I hitched my emotional wagon to them.

And you wonder why I occasionally show signs of bitterness and hopelessness.


Fat Man Was a Firecracker

And, in case you were wondering, it is now Day 3 of what has been variously described as a “pinprick,” a “slimdown,” “not a big deal,” “nothing to worry about,” and countless other borderline criminal euphemisms.

Yes, the Shutdown. Some 800,000 federal employees are out of work for the time being. Many, no doubt, are wondering how they might keep up with such trivialities as utility bills, rent, mortgage payements, and keeping the larder stocked but, y’know, that’s not a big deal.

In other news, Tea Party-ists have signed a letter to the residents of Nagasaki, Japan telling them to quit bringing up the events of August 9, 1945, because, after all, it was only one airplane dropping one bomb. Jeez, people, get over it!


Oooh! Aaah!

The Pencil Today:


“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.” — Tennessee Williams


Newshound Joy Shayne Laughter stopped by the Book Corner for a visit before going into the WFHB studios to interview a nationally-known digital doyenne yesterday afternoon.

We got around to talking about Facebook and we both agreed that sometimes we have to take a time out from it because, well, it has this weird capacity to turn even the sweetest soul into a jerk. And the two of us are nothing if not sweet souls.

I’ve been tempted a hundred times to write on someone’s wall, “Jesus Christ, what kind of stupid moron are you?!” Much to my surprise, the seemingly grounded and mature Joy admitted that she, too, finds herself on the brink of lashing out in like fashion at people on FB.

Facebook turns everybody into a bully to some degree or another. And god forbid any elected official should sneeze the wrong way — he’ll be strung up before he can reach for his handkerchief.

Case in point: Yesterday Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey praised the federal government and President Barack Obama for their quick response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Before the president could say, Don’t mention it, this meme image appeared on Facebook:

So, in essense, the Facebook zeitgeist now holds that no one on Earth can ever have a change of heart. There are no epiphanies. Redemption is for the birds. No matter what tragedy befalls you, you must hold fast to every embarrassing, opportunistic, politically expedient statement you’ve ever uttered, otherwise, you’ll be the object of ridicule for millions.

Who knows, maybe Chris Christie in a couple of weeks will proclaim that Barack Obama is Benedict Arnold, Sacco & Vanzetti, and Timothy McVeigh all rolled into one. It could happen.

But in this moment of horror, isn’t it possible that Chris Christie has just learned something?

Can it be that from now on, thanks to this horrifying storm, he’s become a better man?

Or in this Facebook age are we all obliged to be assholes forever?


Here’s a confession: I have no idea what the term “gangnam style” means.

In Lieu Of A Gangnam Style Pic: Marilyn Monroe And Her Pumpkins

Here’s another: I’m not going to try to find out either. Overall, I feel quite good about this decision.


Just heard a Joe Walsh ad on the radio last night. He’s running for US Congress against Tammy Duckworth in Illinois’ 8th District. He’s also the guy who declared during a candidates’ debate a week and a half ago that he’s against abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger.

That alone would lead a reasonable person to assume Walsh is a pretty sharp-edged character. As in this imaginary exchange:

Walsh: Sharp, But Not As A Tack

Doctor: “Joe, I’m sorry but your wife’s situation has taken a bad turn. She’s having what we call an ectopic pregnancy. The situation is dire. There’s a strong possibility that if we go ahead with this delivery, she won’t make it.”

Joe: “Doctor, that’s terrible. What can we do about it?”

Doctor: “Well, Joe, we live in Illinois, which allows us to terminate the pregnancy. As it stands right now, the odds are stacked mightily against your wife. What do you say, Joe?”

On second thought, I won’t presume to guess what Joe might say in such a tragic situation. But I do know what he said at the debate. He claimed there is no such thing as a pregnancy that can endanger the life of the mother, an assertion that medical science holds to be about as wrong as wrong can be.

Yes, Joe, This Can Kill A Woman

I’d like to think that just because Joe Walsh says bombastic things during political debates, it doesn’t mean he would act so bombastically in real life.

Joe Walsh likes to use words the way others use stilettos. He had to know his statement would cut many, many women to the bone.

The script for his radio ad was similarly filled with razor verbiage. That’s really nothing new. He has accused Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in combat, of not being a real hero because she mentions her disability on the campaign trail. In Joe Walsh’s world a soldier who gets her legs blown off should just shut up about it.

Walsh To Duckworth: Quit Bitching

Do you get the feeling Joe Walsh doesn’t care much for women?

Anyway, Walsh’s ad hammers home the point that Duckworth served for a time in disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s cabinet. Blagojevich, you’ll recall, is not only the latest governor emeritus of the Land of Lincoln to occupy a suite in the penitentiary, but is perhaps the most brazen and venal of that gang.

Toward the end of Blagojevich’s term as reprobate-in chief, he named Duckworth the state’s Director of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Duckworth jokingly remarked that Blagojevich gave her the job so she could do favors for her friends. Those friends, of course, were military veterans and, well, the director’s job by definition is to do favors for them.

Everybody had a good laugh over that one.

But now Joe Walsh uses that audio clip in his advertisements, hoping to make Duckworth sound like a cheap political hustler in the Blagojevich mold. Look what Rod Blagojevich and Tammy Duckworth did to the state of Illinois, the ad bleats. Now she wants to do the same thing to the country in Washington.

A Shady Connection?

The idea being she’ll try to sell political appointments and squeeze campaign contributions out of big shots in exchange for favorable legislation, just the way her former boss did.

Problem is, Duckworth’s reputation is sterling. She wasn’t implicated in the Blagojevich todo — in fact, few outside of the former Governor’s immediate conspiracy circle were.

That doesn’t matter to Joe Walsh.

By the way, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Walsh. Oh, and Duckworth worked for a couple of years in Barack Obama’s federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs. So Joe works for obsessive profiteers and Tammy worked for a former community organizer.

Makes me think of a line I read recently: “I’ll take the character of a community organizer over that of a venture capitalist any day.”

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

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

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “Narratives of Infanticide: Mothers, Murder, and the State in Nineteenth-Century America,” Presented by Felicity Turner; 4pm

CLASS ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterNew Rules for Deer Season: Are You Ready for Opening Day?; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “The Connection“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallEarly Music Institute Chamber Music Concert; 7pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterLetters from the Front, Written by James F. Lee to members of His family in Monroe County: Bringing the Civil War Up Close and Personal, Presented by Steve Rolfe of Monroe County Civil War Round Table; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. Indiana Wesleyan; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU GymnasiumHoosier wrestling vs. Manchester; 7pm

FEST ◗ IU Latino Cultural CenterDia de los Muertos; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubMonika Herzig Trio; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU AuditoriumStraight No Chaser; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallTrombone Choir, Carl Lenthe, director; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallClarinet Choir, Howard Klug, director; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdG Love & Special Sauce; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopPaul Collins, Purple 7, The Sands; 9:30pm


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:


“I took up writing to escape the drudgery of that everyday cubicle kind of war.” — Walter Mosley



Maybe I was all wrong last week.

Maybe the Chicago teachers really did strike for the benefit of the children and to make the classroom a better place.

At least some of them.

Striking Chicago Teacher At A Rally Saturday

The Windy City was all abuzz yesterday evening after Chicago Teachers Union boss Karen Lewis announced that union reps had not agreed to ratify the contract she and her underbosses hammered out with the city’s big Dons early Friday morning.

Union leadership wanted to settle for a pay increase. Perhaps the rank and file want even more — and I’m not talking dough here.

Lewis et al met with the reps Sunday afternoon at which time it was expected the new deal would be approved. No such luck.

In fact, Lewis announced leadership and the reps would not meet again until Tuesday.

Karen Lewis Breaks The News

Talk radio callers since then have angrily wondered why the reps and leadership couldn’t simply stick it out and hash over the contract until they all agreed to sign it.

The fact that the union is taking a big time out tells me tempers flared Sunday. The rank and file seems to be racing ahead of union leadership now.

It can only mean real teachers want real reforms. Not only that, they’re concerned about the possibility that the city will close some 200 schools. That can’t be good for anybody but the accountants employed by the Chicago Public Schools. Union leaders seem only interested in making a nice money deal.

If I’m right here, I salute the teachers. I’m behind them more than ever now.


Joy Shayne Laughter points out this very compelling quote from the one and only R. Buckminster Fuller:

This is pure dynamite, folks.

When I was a kid, my Depression-era parents pounded it into me that any job was a good job. Loading TV’s into boxes eight hours a day, five days a week, at the local Zenith factory was admirable. I did that for three days when I was eighteen. I quit in the middle of the third day when I realized the vast majority of my new colleagues had to get sloshed at the local tavern in order to get through the rest of the day.

Fuller says “we keep inventing jobs” in order that everybody is yoked by “drudgery.”

Charlie Chaplin At Work In “Modern Times”


How has our world culture evolved to the point that people are shut away in hellish, tomb-like buildings, under the direction of petit tyrants, to make just enough dough to eat and sleep in a warm bed, and then die moments after retirement?

Is there another way?

Is local, self-sustainable culture a viable alternative?

Would the bosses of industry allow us to make a move in that direction?

Fuller offers no solutions. But merely raising the question is a start.


Sam Cooke was shot to death by a Los Angeles motel manager in 1964 after a long, successful career in pop and R&B music.

Sam Cooke

The motel manager on duty said Cooke, half naked, attacked her so she shot him in self defense after a struggle. Evidence exists that a woman Cook brought to the hotel robbed him of of a huge amount of cash while he was in the bathroom. It’s conceivable he thought the motel manager to be in cahoots with the woman. Additionally, the singer Etta James wrote in her autobiography that she saw Cooke’s body at the AR Leak Funeral Home in Chicago and it was badly beaten and mangled.

Sam Cooke also was one of the earliest big-time performers to become active in the civil rights movement.

All in all, a puzzling and sad end for one of the great American voices.

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:


“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Look, I don’t care if Ann and Mitt Romney had ten kids, Hilary Rosen was right.

All the corporate media pundits are saying the Rosen flap is a win for the Romney campaign. Maybe. I don’t know.

Perhaps a significant number of middle class and poor mothers around this holy land will say, Golly gee, I raise a family and I know it’s a tough business.

It is — for them. For Ann Romney it was not.

Do you think she spent countless hours on her knees scrubbing the toilet?

Did she struggle trying to put together a healthy dinner for a family of seven on a budget more amenable to a family of two or three?

Did she ever have to take a bus to her kids’ school for a parent-teacher conference?

Did she keep her fingers crossed that her 14-year-old car wouldn’t crap out suddenly?

Did she wear tattered underwear because her family’s health insurance premiums precluded her from buying new ones?

Whenever her kids bawled or sassed or puked or spilled orange juice all over the kitchen floor, was she the only responsible adult around?

Or were there any paid helpers around to suffer the abuse or pick up the pieces?

Did she ever have to sew up holey socks?


Did she ever check the mail every single day for weeks at a time in the hope her federal income tax return check had finally come?

Were gangs a problem at the exclusive schools she sent her kids to?

Did she lie awake at night wondering how she could prevent one or more of her kids from dropping out of high school?

Did she ever worry about her credit card bill?

How often did she shrug her shoulders at the suggestion of sex because she was too exhausted from chasing kids around all day?

Really, did she ever have any of the worries, did she ever suffer any of the ordeals, that the vast majority of American moms have had to endure?

I know the answer and you do too.

So let’s cut the bullshit: Ann Romney has never had to work a day in her life.


Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of one of the weirdest municipal elections in memory.

On April 12th, 1983, Harold Washington, US Congressman from Illinois’ 1st District, was elected mayor of Chicago.

He was the first black man to attain that office in what had long been called the most racially segregated city in America.


My hometown had been run from 1955 though the end of 1976 by Richard J. Daley, the last of the big city machine mayors. As a little kid I actually thought Mayor Daley was a single word that meant any city’s boss. I recall watching the news one day and seeing that New York had elected a new chief executive. I concluded, therefore, that John V. Lindsay was that city’s mayordaley.

Chicago’s Big Cheese For 21 Years

Then Daley dropped dead in his doctor’s office a few days before Christmas in the Bicentennial Year. The City’ Council’s President Pro Tem announced he’d be the acting mayor until a special election could be held, per the city’s charter.

Well, the City Council wasn’t going to let that happen because its President Pro Tem, Wilson Frost, was a black man. Hell, the city just might slide into Lake Michigan if a black man became mayor, if only an acting one. So the Council did what it does best — it made a closed door, illegal deal to select a harmless alderman named Michael Bilandic mayor.

Bilandic, naturally, won the special election and seemed a lock to retain the office in the next regular election until a 20-inch snowstorm paralyzed the city days before the 1979 primary. Chicagoans blamed Bilandic for the massive expressway and el train snarls that resulted and threw him out in favor of a feisty former Daley department head named Jane Byrne.

Bilandic And His Snow

Even though she possessed the wrong genitals in certain Chicagoans’ views, many liked Byrne because she was tough as nails. For instance, on election day 1979, she phoned Alderman Fred Roti, the Mob’s man in City Hall and a notorious ballot box stuffer. Look Fred, she said to him, I’ve got a good chance to win this thing. All I ask is that you and your boys give me a fair count. If you do, I’ll be fair with you. If you don’t, I’ll cut your balls off.

It was Fred Roti, by the way, who proudly told this story again and again.

Janey Was Tougher Than Roti

Anyway, by the time Byrne came up for reelection in 1983, Harold Washington had thrown his hat into the ring. Most observers figured he was being silly. The voters of Chicago would never in a million years elect a black man mayor, they reasoned.

Then a strange thing happened. Daley’s kid, Richie, the State’s Attorney, started thinking the mayor’s office was a family heirloom that was rightfully his. He, too, entered the Democratic primary race.

Voters living in the vast Northwest and Southwest sides of the city (read: white people) began suffering from the vapors. By good god in heaven, they shrieked, that dumb Daley kid’s gonna split the white vote!

Old Man Daley’s Kid

But Richie Daley wouldn’t drop out even when polls showed him neck and neck with Byrne.

Lo and behold, on the day of the primary Daley and Byrne canceled each other out and Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination.

You never saw such hand-wringing in “The City that Works.”

The Republicans, meanwhile, hustled to put up their own candidate for mayor. Previously, the words “Republican candidate for mayor of Chicago” were merely a more verbose way of saying “loser.” But the heretofore moribund GOP, sensing their first real shot at the office in half a century, selected a member of the Illinois House named Bernie Epton to go up against Washington.

Bernie Epton

The idea that a Republican — and a Jew — could become mayor would have been laughable only two months before the general election. But the city’s white electorate was far more terrified of a black man than a Jew. Come election day, Washington won by the narrowest of margins.

Harold was a fascinating fellow. Personally charismatic, he was a master at pulling a reporter or a fellow pol close while shaking his hand and whispering some pearl of wisdom in his ear. It was as though Washington trusted him and him alone with what he had to say. I’d been pulled close by Washington a couple of times; the gesture made me feel like the biggest shot in the room — next to him.

Washington also had served time in the federal joint before becoming mayor. The IRS claimed he hadn’t filed income tax returns for 19 years, although it admitted he’d paid his taxes in full. Many wondered why such an astute lawyer (he was the only black man to graduate from the Northwestern University School of Law 1952 class) could be so dumb as to not file his returns.

Some Washington biographers claim to have evidence that Washington’s daddy-o was the South Side’s premier policy wheel operator (“policy” was the black ghetto’s illegal lottery game). According to these biographers, Washington himself earned a bit of spare cash from his father’s racket and decided it was better to risk being charged with failure to file rather than declaring income from a criminal gambling operation.

Typical Chicago Policy Wheel

After a brief marriage during World War II — he served in the Philippines with the US Army Air Corps — Washington remained unmarried until he died. Republican operatives during the 1983 election floated the rumor that Washington was gay. When that didn’t prove effective enough, they began whispering that he’d actually gone to jail on a child molesting rap.

Washington’s supporters countered that he was a great ladies’ man. One backer later claimed that if you put all the women Harold had slept with in one corner of City Hall, the structure would sink five inches into the ground.

Harold changed City Hall after his election. While he was mayor, the Hall became a festive place, filled with blacks and Puerto Ricans and more women than would ever be seen there under previous bosses.

Under him, City Hall became a mirror of the city itself.

Harold Waves To Well-Wishers After The Votes Were Counted

Washington was reelected in spring 1987. Then, a few days after Thanksgiving that year, while in a meeting with his press secretary, Alton Miller, Washington, sitting behind his desk, dropped a pencil. He bent over to pick it up but, to Miller’s puzzlement, remained bent over. Miller got up to see what was wrong but Washington was already dead. His heart, enlarged due to his widening girth and high blood pressure, had simply given out.

Even in death, Washington inspired delirious creativity in his supporters as well as his enemies. Certain Republicans claimed the Cook County Coroner had found cocaine in his body during his autopsy. His backers countered that he’d been poisoned to death by unnamed white people.

Here’s my favorite Harold Washington story. I heard this from someone in his administration who was there when it happened.

Washington was in a meeting with three people. It was getting late in the afternoon and the four hadn’t eaten lunch yet so Harold suggested they send out for sandwiches. One by one, each of his three underlings specified which sandwich he wanted with one of them jotting the information down. Finally, they got around to Harold. He said, “That sounds good. I’ll try that.”

The note-taker asked for clarification: “You mean that last sandwich?”

“No,” Harold Washington responded. “All three of them.”

He died fat and happy.


Hey, get yourself over to the Windfall Dance Studio this evening at six o’clock. Bloomington’s own master-ess keyboard clacker, my pal Joy Shayne Laughter, is reading a terrific short story there. (You know, the word mistress just didn’t work for me there.)

Joy’s story is called “The Last.” It’s based on the recollections of her great-grandfather who, as a young man, left Indiana for the wild’s of Kansas to take a job as one of the last of the wolf-poisoners. Honest, that was a position in great demand back a century and more ago. Cattle ranchers wanted to protect their livestock from predatory wolves so they hired guys to set out wolf bait laced with deadly poison.

Joy’s reading is part of the ongoing series “Early Drafts” featuring works in progress read aloud by local writers. The incomparable Tony Brewer is scheduled to spout some poetry tonight as well. There’ll be music, an act from a play, and other arty-fun things.

Windfall is located at 14th and Dunn.


If you’ve read this far, thanks. Please bear with me. I’ve got to post right now even though I haven’t selected and placed my pix yet. If I don’t get up off this seat, Soma Coffee’s gonna charge me rent.

I’ll have images up later today.

Okay, you’ve got pix.

The Pencil Today:


“Those who, in principle, oppose birth control are either incapable of arithmetic or else in favor of war, pestilence, and famine as permanent features of human life.” — Bertrand Russell


Student academic fraud is on the upswing, according to a piece in the IDS this morning.

We’re talking cheating on a test or hiring a ringer to write a paper, that sort of thing. Some 366 cases of such enhanced achievement misconduct were adjudicated last year. This year the number of cheaters already is approaching that total, according to the article, even though the spring semester isn’t even half over.


Using last year’s figure, let’s just assume the actual number of cheaters was three times the official number. That gives us a shade under 1100 future Wall Street icons…, er…, I mean, cheaters. That’s a pretty heartening number, no?

When you consider that some 95,000 aspiring scholars attended classes at the seven Indiana University campuses, you realize that only .0038 percent of students are kinky, to use an old alley cop term for lawbreakers.

“So, Cheating On Your Semester Finals, Eh?”

Not bad, eh? The pressure on college students to succeed, especially in this Great Recession era, is enormous. When only one in approximately 261 students spits on the academic code, in my hypothetical scenario, I think we can safely say IU crammers by and large are honest souls.

The whole subject reminds me of that great Woody Allen line: “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam; I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”


Miles Craig, Crystal Johnson, and Mike Cagle all posted this funny pic on their Facebook pages.

If the GOP anti-sex league wasn’t so scary, it’d be funny.


Bloomington author Joy Shayne Laughter paid her respects at Soma Coffee‘s unofficial Big Mike Table this morning when she came in for her daily IV drip. Joy was all agog over an essay she read by a writer named Andrea Balt on the web journal Elephant.

Balt tries to explain women. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joy to pieces, but now, after reading the essay, I’m more confused than ever about those folks who possess different plumbing than I do.

Then again, perhaps my confusion means I really get it now.

Women are like quantum mechanics. As Richard Feynman reportedly said, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”

Particle Paths Illustrating Quantum Mechanics Probabilities


Was there ever a cooler girl group than the Runaways?

Joan Jett and Lita Ford are underappreciated among rock ‘n roll experts only because they carried the wrong set of chromosomes in their cells.

And, by the way, doesn’t it look as though Joan Jett is chewing gum in this video? Maybe it’s my imagination, but if she is, it’s the perfect touch.

The Pencil Today:


“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness.” — George Washington


The local Facebook-iverse was abuzz last night over the mention of one of our own in the Village Voice.

Seems that those city slickers suddenly have realized that there are actually people out here, and not just goats. And some of us Hoosiers can read and write and — gasp! — think.

State Senator Vi Simpson, top dog of the Democratic caucus, came in for the imprimatur on the Voice’s Scientology blog (golly gee, I didn’t know there was a crying need for such a thing). Writer Tony Ortega breathlessly marvels over the mere existence of Vi, who cleverly introduced an amendment to weaken a Republican bill to get creationism taught in Indiana public schools.

Clever Simpson

Creationism, for those of you who understandably ignore the bleatings of the god-fearing Right, holds that the Earth is only 6000 years old and that a couple of white people named Adam and Eve ate some piece of fruit, causing all subsequent generations of humans to be born evil. Oh, and that a talking snake persuaded them to munch the honeycrisp.

“Go Ahead, Eat It.”

I figure I’d be god-fearing, too, if I believed in a deity that deranged.

See, GOP Senator Dennis Kruse had introduced the original bill, SB 89, presumably because he thinks teaching evolution, biology, and geology are frightful wastes of our education dollars. The Indiana Senate actually passed the bill, leading me to wonder if those city slickers are right — perhaps we are just a bunch of illiterate goats out here.


Vi Simpson, though, proved at least some of us possess Homo Sapiens sapiens genetic material.

Her amendment called for the teaching of the creation myths of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology as well. Lo and behold, her amendment was passed, probably because, y’know, half to three quarters of those minty-fresh Tea Party legislators probably can’t read anyway.

And the kicker: Simpson received complaints from various minor religion zealots who were put out because their fave fairy tales weren’t included.

“Hey! What About Us?”

In any case, the bill is now watered down enough to make it essentially toothless as well as brainless.

Here’s a hat tip to FB eagle-eyes (and Pencillistas) Michael Redman, Miles Craig, Susan Sandberg, Jim Manion, Steve Johnson, Mike Cagle, R.E. Paris, and Joy Shayne Laughter for catching the Simpson story.

And — huzzah! — those fancy folks from the Big Apple like us, they really like us!


Great. Now some knucklehead with a gun and a teensy package has shot and killed a bald eagle in Morgan County.

The Herald Times reports this morning that the eagle carcass was found earlier this month near Eminence.

Target Practice

Keep in mind that a couple of whooping cranes were gunned down late last year as well. Folks, can we please go back to shooting tin cans off fence posts?

I said this a little more than a year ago, after Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were pumped full of lead in Tucson, and now it looks as though I’ll have to say it again: America, stick your guns up your ass.


Can you pony up two bucks?

That’s all it costs to see scads of local Bloomington artists show their stuff at — what else? — the Local Artists Showcase, Saturday, February 25, at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Bloom magazine bwana Malcolm Abrams sauntered into the Book Corner the other day in search of baseball magazines — yes, it’s that time of year — and to pass out flyers for the event. Bloom is sponsoring the bash along with Ivy Tech.

Some 67 local painters, scultors, mixed media artists and many others will be on hand.

With tix so cheap, you’ll have plenty of dough left over to buy some nice pieces, no?


Have you caught Womenspace on WFHB yet?

If not, why not? Great music by a revolving cast of XX-chromosome DJs, including Carolyn VandeWiele, Catharine Rademacher, and Liza Pavelich. Check these Spinitron playlists for the show so you can see what you’ve been missing.

VandeWiele, Rademacher & Pavelich

Womenspace airs every Thursday, 9-11PM. Women spinning women, baby. Catch it.

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