Category Archives: London

The Pencil Today:


“You can have a revolution wherever you like, except in a government office; even were the world to come to an end, you’d have to destroy the universe first and then government offices.” — Karel Čapek


So, Julie Thomas is the Dems’ choice to replace Mark Stoops on the November ballot.

Julie Thomas

Stoops, you may recall, is replacing Vi Simpson on the ballot for her state senate seat. Simpson is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with John Gregg. Thomas aims to swap her Monroe County Council seat for Stoops’ Monroe County Board of Commissioners post. Got all that?

It’s the Democratic Shuffle.

Anyway, the Thomas move only adds to the local Democrats’ big women’s push this year. Make sure you read my piece about Dem women in this month’s Ryder magazine.


Don’t you just love petty tyrants?

Some officious little dweeb in London cut the power as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello played and sang in Hyde Park Saturday night. Arguably the two biggest rock stars in the world, Springsteen and McCartney have been jonesing to jam together for years.

A Dream Come True

They finally got their chance at the end of Springsteen’s big show last night. Right in the middle of “Twist and Shout,” though, the aforementioned noodge gave the order for the plugs to be pulled.

Seems the Westminster Council has a hard and fast new rule that outdoor concerts at Hyde Park must be completed by 10:30pm. It was 10:45pm when London’s Big Hall Monitor cut the boys off.

Sorta funny no? If only London’s bosses had been such sticklers when the LIBOR scandal was brewing.


BTW: You’ll note I did not call the former Beatle “Sir” Paul McCartney.

I won’t do it. Not now or ever.

There’s no place in my world for phoney-baloney titles of “nobility.”

My Blood Is Quite Blue

This holy land’s “Founding Fathers” had no use for Britain’s caste society either. After all, we had our own system of oppression and disenfranchisement to nurture.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS points out a new website modeled after Rotten Tomatoes called I Dream Books.

RT, as you know, is a film criticism aggregator that canvasses movie reviews from around the nation and rates each picture based on some algorithm the geeks in charge have conjured. Now IDB does the same thing, only with tomes.

So, I clicked on the first title that came up on the IDB page. It turns out to be that risible Christian fever dream, “Heaven Is for Real.”

Do I have to explain this criminal misuse of a significant portion of our nation’s forests to you? Everybody should know by now it’s about some reverend whose three-year-old kid undergoes an emergency appendectomy and emerges from the surgery with a hair-brained tale that he’d died and gone to heaven but for some odd reason was kicked back out and his soul returned to his Earthly body.

The most gullible among the populace take this as de facto proof that their religious fantasies are the real deal.

Get this: IDB gives this aggressive insult to our intelligence an 80 percent positive rating! The review the site features reads, in part, “‘Heaven Is for Real’ will forever change the way you think of eternity, offering the chance to see, and believe, like a child.”

Honestly, people. A three-year-old explaining the nature of existence to us?

The Time-Space Continuum

To the best of my knowledge, three-year-olds are those members of society who defecate in their pants, throw tantrums when they’re denied any more cookies, often believe monsters are hiding under their beds, and who occasionally display their penises in misguided attempts to entertain us. Because we realize three-year-olds, to put it politely, aren’t fully all there, we don’t throw them in jail for the latter infraction.

Why, then, would millions of people take as gospel some crackpot tale such a kid would tell his old man, who no doubt asked a lot of leading questions to draw said nonsense out of him?

And we let these people vote?

I can’t imagine that four of every five book reviewers in the country think this drek is hot stuff. I’ll be watching IDB closely to see if the bugs in its algorithm are worked out.


Well, one guy now knows whether Colton Burpo and his daddy-o made up their little story or not: Dr. Conger, a terrific guy from Lima, Ohio.

That’s all I’ve ever known him as — Dr. Conger.

Clyde Conger

He kept a home here in Bloomington as well as his Ohio digs. He was an insatiable reader and would make the trek to the Book Corner every month or so to stock up on hardcovers.

Dr. Conger was an anesthesiologist. He wasn’t a rich man but he and his wife were comfortable. He was no fan of the greedy bastards who hold sway in these Great United States, Inc. today.

Whenever I’d see his wife pull up in front of the store in their minivan, I’d dash out to help him walk the few steps to our front door. Dr. Conger suffered from diabetes and the resultant pain in his feet tortured him.

I’d sit him in one of our Franklin chairs, and we’d talk about the issues of the day as well as new books. I’d mention a title that might interest him and he’d say, “Would you get me that? I think I’ll buy it.”

After a half hour or so, the pain in his dogs would get to be too much and he’d struggle to stand in preparation to go outside and wait for his wife, who was shopping around the square. The two of us would wait for his wife to pull back up. I’d ask him why he just didn’t call her and he’d always reply that he didn’t want to cut in on her shopping time.

Old man Dr. Conger was a swell bird. He died a few weeks ago.

No depictions of heaven ever allude to books being there. I get the feeling Dr. Conger wouldn’t care too much for that kind of heaven.

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

TC Steele State Historic Site“Sunday at Home: An Old Fashioned Celebration,” with fun, crafts, vocal and harpsichord music, hand-cranked ice cream and more; 1-4pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It With You”; 1pm

Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — Musical, “Footloose”; 2pm

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: David Linard Trio; 4pm

The Player’s PubThe Reacharounds; 6pm

Bryan ParkOutdoor concert, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra with Charles Latshaw, conductor; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series, “Gerhard Richter Painting”; 7pm

Gerhard Richter And His Piece, “Abstract Painting (911-4)”

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Various performances by members of the Jacobs School faculty; 8pm


◗ 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:


“All I’ve done is run fast. I don’t see why people should make much fuss about that.” Dutch Olympic sprinter (1948) Fanny Blankers-Koen


Very little that happens in London interests me. The royal family are a bunch of bores. Tony Blair was a puppy dog for George W. Bush. Soccer is a sleeping pill. The food is tasteless.

Bangers & Mash: British “Food”

And now the world’s most boring spectacle, the Olympics, is coming to the world’s most boring city.

Starting at the end of this month, the Olympics will be splashed on every newspaper, TV and radio station, and internet news site for two and a half weeks. Anybody looking for me during that span will find me easily — I’ll be the one who’s snoring.

Guaranteed, there’ll be endless pix of that new princess woman — what’s her name? Kate? Even her name is boring — attending one sporting event or another with equally endless analyses of what hat she’s wearing at the time. And, for pity’s sake, the damned country still has princes and princesses. In the 21st Century!

Princess Kate With A Growth On Her Head

The Olympics is an orgy of jingoism, tribal exhibitionism, nationalist pretension, and dozens of athletic events that are less riveting than watching a cat toy with a spider.

I won’t even mention the orgy of eye-rollingly predictable “personal stories” that’ll be forced upon the viewing public during the Games. Seems as though every elite athlete has a sick little sister who’s on her mind as she tries to out-pole vault some similar genetically exceptional gravity defier from, say, Gabon.

I Wonder How My Sick Little Sister Feels Right Now

I figured I had a few weeks of freedom from the Olympics before the big shebang commences on July 25th. (Yeah, yeah, the Opening Ceremony is slated for Friday, July 27th, but — go figure — soccer matches are scheduled to begin two days beforehand. When the Olympics isn’t boring, it makes no sense.)

My Olympics-free idyl, sadly, has ended early. Apparently, there are a bunch of Olympics trials going on right now here in this holy land. My neighbor Tom has been telling me he’s been watching the trials for days now, a piece of news that slipped right out of my skull seemingly before the sound of his words dissipated. The fact that athletes and the US Olympic Committee don’t even know at this late date who’s going to be battling for the gold seems fairly weird to me, but what do I know?

Runner 1: “So, You Going?” Runner 2: “Search Me.”

Anyway, the big news today is the cancelled run-off between a couple of women sprinters. The race was supposed to take place last night. All the news cameras were in place. People were actually talking about track and field. Then, suddenly, one of the participants up and quit.

Jeneba Tarmoh sent a message to USA Track & Field, the governing body for amateur athletes in the sport, saying she wouldn’t race Allyson Felix, whom Tarmoh had tied for third in an Olympics qualifying race a week and a half ago. Whoever finished third in that earlier race would be the final 100-metter sprinter to qualify for the USA team. Since Tarmoh and Felix tied, officials had to scramble for a way to determine who who’d be the anointed one.

Tarmoh & Felix Tie

The fact that it took officials more than three seconds to come to the brilliant conclusion that the two should, well, race against each other illustrates just how full of holy horseshit Olympics people are.

Swear to god, it was a week before USATF announced there’d be a run-off between Tarmoh and Felix. A week! USATF officials spent the intervening time wracking their brains trying to figure out how to determine which of the runners was faster.

Presumably, they ruled out a trivia challenge, an arm wrestling match, and a pie baking contest.

Tarmoh’s Pie Is Delicious — She Wins The Race!

Incredibly, officials first offered the two runners a choice between a run-off and — I’m not lying — a coin flip. Tarmoh and Felix wisely elected to race each other.

USATF President Stephanie Hightower said, “The bottom line is that this is, in my opinion, the best way to be able to resolve this issue.”

No kidding, professor.

Still, the run-off caused controversy. Fans, commentators, and commenters on sports and news websites actually argued over whether the runoff was appropriate.


No matter now. Tarmoh has quit the runoff so the whole issue is dead. The way I’ll wish I’ll be while the Olympics is going on.

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

◗ IU Theater AnnexChildren’s musical,  “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” presented by Indiana Festival Theater; 11am

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series, Kid Kazooey & the Ballroom Roustabouts; 11:30am

◗ Madison Street next to Bloomingfoods, west storeTuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsArt Hootenanny featuring patriotic singing; 5:30pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke; 6pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — The Indiana Boys host the Muddy Boots All-star Jam; 6-8:30pm

The Player’s PubBlues jam; 8pm

The BluebirdBloomington’s Got Talent, hosted by Leo Cook; 8pm

◗ IU Auer HallChamber music, Afiara String Quartet; 8pm

The Afiara String Quartet

◗ Farm Bloomington, The Root CellarTeam trivia; 8pm


◗ 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

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