Category Archives: Laura Grover

The Pencil Today:


“Politics is just like show business. You have a hell of an opening, coast for a while, and then have a hell of a close.” — Ronald Reagan


So, the coat-holders go after each other tonight on national TV.

Vice president Joe Biden and Willard Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, meet in Danville, Kentucky’s Centre College and begin throwing food at each other at 9pm.

No sense wasting time watching it as “the winner” already has been determined, according to experts in the mass obfuscation biz.

See, because ol’ Willard leapfrogged so dramatically over over the president after last week’s “debate,” the heat is on Biden to rescue the Dem ticket from the humiliation of a single-digit fate.

Not a single-digit deficit, mind you, but an actual vote count on November 6th of less than ten percent. In fact, some experts believe Obama now will be the first incumbent president to garner fewer than 500 votes nationwide after his disappointing performance eight days ago. That would translate into the greatest landslide in world electoral history, with Romney receiving 99.999996 percent of the vote.

All because Barack Obama telephoned his performance in on the 2nd.

Wise men before that debate said it was going to be Romney’s “coming out party.” Disappointingly, he did not use the event to reveal to the American public he is gay, but, say those experts, to show us who he really is. Which is good — I’d previously had him pegged as a homeless man.

In any case, the experts are saying the same thing about Paul Ryan today. The American people will get to know him tonight. Local polls have indicated that most Bloomington voters believe Paul Ryan is a male stripper at Uncle Elizabeth’s.

Ryan (right)

If recent history is our guide, he’ll trounce Biden.

Well, I voted Tuesday at the Curry Building. I filled in the box for Obama/Biden. At least the election won’t turn out to be unanimous.


Just finished reading the account of the operation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in the current issue of Vanity Fair.

The piece is an adaptation of Mark Bowden’s forthcoming book, “The Finish,” about the raid that resulted in the death of the millionaire warlord.


Here’s a spoiler for you: There never was any chance that bin Laden would be taken alive. The SEAL team that entered his compound in Abbottobad on May 2nd, 2011, was made up of shoot-first, ask-questions-later guys.

It’s a riveting story. The president showed a lot of steel by okaying the plan in the face of uncertainties about whether or not bin Laden was actually the white-robed guy observed by spy drones at the compound or even if the operation could succeed.

Don’t let those Republicans fool you with their blatherings that Obama is too soft to be president.

The whole episode hardens my conviction that the GOP is brilliant at putting on a show. For instance, Obama went on live television to announce bin Laden’s death at 11:35pm EST. Which means all of sixteen people actually saw him.

The Big Newz-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

The Republicans would have been smart enough to sit on the news until 9:30 the next morning when it would flash on everybody’s computer screen at the office.

Say John McCain had won the 2008 election [Big Mike pauses for a moment to allow his loyal readers to steady themselves].  And say, even more improbably, that McCain and Company had been in charge of the raid.

(Remember, Obama was being advised in part by his vice president — ergo, it’s safe to assume McCain would have had to listen to Sarah Palin’s bleating. “Mr. President,” she’d say, “we already beat Obama, why do we have to go after him again? Wait, you didn’t say Obama?”)

Anyway, the Republican Party entertainment division (read: Fox News) would have had McCain rappel onto the Rose Garden from a hovering Chinook helicopter to deliver his We-got-‘im! presser.

Say what you will about Georgy Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” arrival on that aircraft carrier back in ’03, I’ll bet millions of GOP chicks still get dewy-eyed (euphemism, natch) thinking about it.

Hail To The…, Oh, Mr. President!

Personal to the President: Take a cue from the Catholic church — give ’em some theater.


Don’t miss this: Laura Grover and her Bloomington Storytelling Project mates will throw a Hallowe’en frightfest Saturday, October 27th, at Max’s Place.

Grover et al have put out the call for storytellers to come on stage that night and scare the bejesus out of the citizenry.

Have you made it to a BSP extravaganza yet? If you haven’t, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Jes’ plain folks come up and tell tales — some of them even true, I’d guess. None of it is rehearsed or scripted, so you’ll have a gay old time on the edge of your seat wondering how the speaker will wriggle out of whatever snag she or he has gotten into.

Bloomington, of course, is home to some renowned raconteurs and whopper peddlers. I’d think that legendary stump speakers like Charlotte Zietlow and Hondo Thompson would be perfect for the BSP circuit. One of the big stars of any BSP event is Marc Haggerty, who’s known far and wide in these parts as the only man alive who can fill his own shoes. Anyway, if Haggerty is on the sked to spin a yarn on the 27th, that alone would be worth the price of admission.

Send an email to if you’d like to get on the Hallowe’en show roster, otherwise, just show up and listen.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

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

SOCIAL SERVICE ◗ Bloomington American Legion P0st 18South Central Indiana VA Stand Down, Helping struggling veterans, services include health screenings, food & clothing donations, flu shots, haircuts, counseling, etc.; 10am-2pm

LECTURE & BOOK SIGNING ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “America’s Unwritten Constitution,” presented by Akhil Amar; Book signing at 11am, Lecture at Noon

LECTURE ◗ IU CinemaJorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series: Benshi Kataoka Ichiro; 3pm

CLASS ◗ IU Maurer School of Law, Moot Court RoomPractice before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal, Continuing legal education credit; 4:30pm

FINANCIAL COUNSELING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryIt’s Your Money series: Talk to an Expert, Financial experts available for confidential counseling; 4:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlacePost-Modern Jazz Quartet; 5:30pm

WORKSHOP ◗ BloomingLabsIntro to Programming; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “An Inn at Tokyo“; 7pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights ProjectComedy, “Rx“; 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Drama, “Last Train to Nibroc”; 7:30pm

DISCUSSION — IU Radio/TV Building, Room 245Making Ethical Decisions During War: One North Vietnamese Soldier’s Story, Part of IU’s Themester program, “Good Behavior, Bad Behavior“; 7:30pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGlenn Wool; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMasters Recital: Vanessa Rose Catsillo on Baroque violin; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdVictor Wooten; 8pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Purdue; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopBelievers; 9:30pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists; through October 14th
  • “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
  • 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:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

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 form 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 CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:


“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.” — Billie Holiday


This is truly evil, isn’t it?

It’s a screenshot from the National Weather Service page Saturday at about 4:55pm.

And dig that humidity: 19 percent! Honestly, those are oven conditions.


Some folks around town got a little rain Saturday evening, just before sunset. Facebook pals of ours were gushing about the downpour while the ground surrounding Chez Big Mike remained rock dry.

But yesterday afternoon we all got our treat. The rain fell, well, in buckets. When the torrent wasn’t so severe as to knock one off his or her feet, local citizens were actually walking around courthouse square in the rain like little kids, simply enjoying the experience of being wet.


Laura Grover’s Bloomington Storytelling Project is having a big do Saturday, 7:00pm, at the Waldron Center.

The Groovy Grover is looking for more storytellers to tell their tales, so if you want to regale the citizenry, email her.

This month’s theme will be “Shocks and Surprises” but, really, every BSP event is chock full of S&Ss. If you haven’t caught a night with the BSPers yet, you’re in for a riot. It’s amazing how many raconteurs, fabulists, and flat-out bullshitters live in this burgh.

You know, it’d be a great date destination. Even if your date should bore you to tears, the evening wouldn’t be a total loss. Try it.


So, 9th District Rep. Todd Young (R) is hitching his wagon to Mitt Romney, natch.

This area’s first-term congressboy crashed Washington in the 2010 elections on the coattails of the Tea Party revolution (and how revolting it was.) The Tea Party-ists have been lukewarm on the former moderate Massachusetts guv so far this election year.

All Aboard!

But the GOP gang is noted for its ability to fall into line, so the side of Right is standing by their man even if they are holding their noses.

Young last week was named honorary co-chair of Mitt’s Veterans and Military Families for Romney club, which actually boasts some three bazillion co-chairs.

They’re all fine and patriotic souls whose fondest wish is that a Republican — any Republican — evicts Barack Obama from the White House come November. Of course, in order for them to realize that goal, the economy has to tank even further than it is already.

Such a quandary: loving, loving, loving this holy land while at the same time hoping, hoping, hoping more people lose their jobs and see their retirement investments shrink.

Neat strategy, guys.


Meanwhile, Shelli Yoder, the Dem candidate for Young’s seat, issued a press release recently decrying the incumbent’s use of the mails to tell the voters of Indiana’s 9th District what a wonderful guy he is.

Young: “I’m Swell.”

According to the Yoder camp, Young spent nearly $300,000 sending out junk mail to voters in the District in the year April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012. Yoder says Young is “one of the top senders of mailings in the House.”

The 87 Republicans who gained seats for the first time in 2010 spent some $9.8M on mailers during their first year in office. These are the folks who sold themselves by saying Congressional spending was out of control.

21st Century Communication?

According to House records, eight of the ten top 2011 mailers in the US House were freshman.

Franking privileges, which is the official term for taxpayers footing the bill for Congressbeings to send mail to their constituents, supposedly are limited to communications on the issues as opposed to campaign literature. But those of us who aren’t as adept at lying as politicians are understand that when we receive a glossy card or pamphlet from our senator or representative, he or she’s really only looking for our vote.

So Todd Young isn’t alone in using our money to convince us he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Nor are Republicans alone in charging us for their PR postage —  two of the top ten frosh were Dems.

Still, in this Internet age how much sense does it make for our elected representatives to be sending us junk mail? And is any of their self-aggrandizing material actually effective?

Search me. I do know this — if Shelli Yoder wins her race against Todd Young, I’ll be watching her to make sure she’s not on the top ten list in 2013.


The Cowsills were the bargain-basement kids-and-mom of 60s-era Sunshine Pop. The sub-genre’s artistes included the Beach Boys and the Mamas & the Papas.

The sunshine sound began to die with the 1969 release of the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar.” Even though it was that year’s top selling 45, it’s hyperglycemic lyrics and vocals forced much of the listening public to turn to more morose singer-songwriters for something akin to balance.

Me? I’m still not averse to naked optimism and head-in-the-sand joy in my music. After all, you can only listen to the Cowboy Junkies for so long before you begin to lose your will to live.

The story goes that Screen Gems wanted to do a weekly show about the Cowsills but thought the mom, Barbara, too homely for TV stardom. Screen Gems hired Shirley Jones to play the mom with the rest of the Cowsills playing themselves but when the kids found out about the plan, the family pulled out of the project.

I Hate To Say It But….

Screen Gems went ahead with Shirley Jones and even hired her stepson, David Cassidy, to play her kid in a sitcom based on a similar idea, “The Partridge Family.”

Anyway, in honor of yesterday’s rain:

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

St. Mark’s United Methodist ChurchThe Generations Project: “What’s Working, What’s Not?”, discussion of brain injury for victims and family; 10am-noon

◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryNew exhibit, “Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; 1:30pm-close, through September 21st

◗ IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture CenterSummer Arts Festival: Michael Spiro & IU Summer World Percussion Ensemble; 7pm

Third Street ParkCuba Friendship Caravan, pitch-in meal, music, and discussion with caravanistas traveling to Santa Clara, Cuba, with aid packages; 7-8:45pm

The BishopDJs Mr. & Mrs. Resur; 8pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Kevork Mardirossian on violin and Lee Phillips on piano play Prokofiev, DeBussy, & Franck; 8pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Music Series: Zoe Martin-Doike on violin, Nathan Vickery on cello, and Chih-Yi Chen on piano; 8pm

The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase; 8pm

◗ IU HPER, room 107 — Ballroom dance lessons; 8:30pm


◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:


“I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.” — Mary Wollstonecraft


There is only one Tyler Ferguson on this Earth — which either is or isn’t a boon for the planet.

Tyler (AKA The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls‘ Kaka Caliente)

She is Bloomington’s own, though, and she graced the Boys of Soma with her presence this morning. She was wrapping her fluid-swollen right knee as the rest of us were ingesting our first doses of the precious eye-opening substance.

Tough Guy Mac asked her how she injured her knee. Those in the know are aware it could have happened during a roller derby match, a soccer game, from running or spinning or bicycling, or any of the countless physical activities she’s addicted to.

Tyler And Her Late, Lamented Wheels

Now, when you ask Tyler a question, you’re really asking for a lecture that includes a minimum of a half dozen tangents. It reminds me of the old line: ask her what time it is and she’ll tell you how a watch is made.

Anyway, she explicated a history of the hinge’s traumas and insults until finally, someone (oh, alright, me) suggested she may have kneed an unfortunate soul who’d tried to force his attentions on her and if you think her patella looks bad, you oughtta see various parts of his shattered body.

Which automatically reminded Tyler of a story. Aw, hell, lemme let her tell it:

“Oh my god! (many Tyler stories begin with oh my god!) I took a self-defense course, five years ago, I think.

“They taught us this move, it’s called the buck and roll. It’s for when some guy’s trying to molest you and he’s on top of you, y’know?

“You grab the guy by the lapels, pull him real close, raise your hips for leverage, okay? It’s a last resort type of thing.

“Then, you use your leverage and flip him. It’s very effective for a smaller person who has a larger person, y’know, like a rapist, on top of them.

“I couldn’t wait ’till I got home, I wanted to show Fergie (her husband). So I get home and I say, ‘Dave. Lemme show you this move I just learned. It’s great!’

“And he goes, ‘Uh uh. No way.’

“And I say, ‘Aw, c’mon! How can it hurt. Look, lay on top of me like you wanna rape me, okay? Don’t worry.’

“So he gets on top of me, I pull him by the lapels, buck my hips up into him, and give him the flip.

“Oh my god, this is true! He must have flown ten feet in the air. Honestly, he was airborne.

“He hit a dresser and he got this enormous bruise on his hip (here, she stands and shows us with her hands the extent of the bruise — it spanned from his waist to halfway down his thigh.) And then all the blood drained down to his foot and he couldn’t walk.

“Poor Punky! He wouldn’t let me touch him for, oh, I don’t know how long.”

To prove Tyler Ferguson isn’t the only one around here who can spin a yarn, her story reminds me of the time I did a big story for the Chicago Reader about the first women boxers in the nation to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament.

One of the boxers, a DePaul University senior named Tracy Desmond, had studied karate before taking up boxing. One night, late, she was walking home in her Little Italy neighborhood when a man who’d been following her yanked her into a gangway.

He picked the wrong chick to mess with. Tracy fought him off, generously bestowing a number of bruises upon his person, and dashed away, seeking refuge in a neighbor’s home.

Tracy Desmond Clocks A Golden Gloves Opponent

When I first heard Tracy’s story it immediately hit me: why don’t we teach young girls self-defense beginning in their earliest years in elementary school?

I don’t have kids (the world should thank me for that) but I can imagine the horror of learning my daughter had been injured or worse by one of the cousins of pan troglodytes who prowl the streets.

Teaching girls from the earliest age the effectiveness of popping a predator in his nose, throat, or junk seems to me the least we can do for them.

Or is it that we really want the females of our holy land to remain helpless?

Teach Your Daughters


Laura Grover can hold her own with any raconteur. The boss of WFHB’s Bloomington Storytelling Project also showed up this morning at Soma. She’d scheduled a meeting with a person who wanted to record a story for the BSP‘s big February event — its 29 Stories in 29 Days storytelling drive.


“If you email us and make a pledge to tell your story any time this month at any location you want, we’ll record you and put your story on the air,” Grover explained. “The first 29 people to do it will get a free mug and an Acoustic Harvest CD. Everybody who participates will get a chance to win prizes from local businesses.”

Those who want to share their stories with the world (or at least Bloomington’s corner of it) can contract Laura Grover at


Strong woman, strong music. Pound for pound, Patti Smith is tougher than any heavyweight boxer.

The Pencil Today:



Today’s post is not about what Big Mike thinks, feels, or has an itch for. Nope. It’s about other people.


Hi! It’s Me! Don’t Forget Me!

Yeah, the focus today is on The Electron Pencil’s contributors. See, I told you we would feature the best writing and visual art in Bloomington. We’re building our roster of contributors slowly but surely. And we’ll always be indebted to that fabulously fedora-ed author chick, Joy Shayne Laughter, for being the first contributor to take a chance on us. Read her short story, “Armistice Day.”

So, today we’re posting work from Ryan Lee Dawes who previews the Mary Okie show at The Bishop Saturday night. Here’s Ryan on his unorthodox preview style: “This is a strange style of concert preview that, to my knowledge, no one else is doing. It’s meant to be slightly comical and very expressive and descriptive.” Go see for yourself.

Ryan Lee Dawes

We also have the new comix series “Cats and Machines” from Grover & Sloan. You may know Laura Grover from the Bloomington Storytelling Project. You probably don’t know Sloan because he’s too busy working on his PhD.

Laura Grover

And for the final piece of our debut triptych today, we introduce Dr. Alex Straiker, research scientist at Indiana University’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. He’s an artist as well as a cerebrum on legs. We’re featuring some of his images of neuromicroscopy.

The Brain Of Alex Straiker (Body Attached)

If none of this interests you, well then, there’s no hope for you. Go watch TV.

Here’s how you check out new works by our contributors every day: Simply click on either the Salon button or the Gallery & Studio button (located at the top of this page).

Salon offers fiction, poetry, reviews, previews, essays, and any other sort of word output I can get my hands on (oh yeah, and is of the highest quality).

Gallery & Studio has pictures and videos and other two-dimensional (Duh! — WordPress doesn’t offer hologram capability yet) visual art.

Each of these pages will display a table of contents. Simply scroll down and pick what you want to see, click on the link and voila!

Go there now. Read. Stare. Like. Share.

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