Category Archives: Lynda Barry

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” — Joseph Conrad

THE STRONG CAN BE LAID LOW

Sarah Sandberg commandeered her sister’s Facebook account last night at about 9:30pm to pass on some alarming news and to issue a warning.

I’m hoping Sarah’s prediction that Susan will be back to work soon is a lot more than wishful thinking.

Susan Sandberg is royalty among Pencillistas. Join me in hoping her doctors have a lot of tricks in their black bags.

Pencillista Queen

MY GUY ROGER

America’s best movie reviewer and an incisive cultural observer in his own right, Roger Ebert, has weighed in on the Aurora, Colorado atrocity.

Check his take in the Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s a quote from that piece:

“The hell with it. I’m tired of repeating the obvious. I know with dead certainty that I will change nobody’s mind. I will hear conspiracy theories from those who fear the government, I will hear about the need to raise a militia, and I will hear nothing about how 9,484 corpses a year has helped anything.”

Or you can read his New York Time op-ed piece. Here’s another quote, this one from that piece:

“Should this young man — whose nature was apparently so obvious to his mother that, when a ABC News reporter called, she said “You’ve got the right person” — have been able to buy guns, ammunition and explosives? The gun lobby will say yes. And the endless gun control debate will begin again, and the lobbyists of the National Rifle Association will go to work, and the op-ed thinkers will have their usual thoughts, and the right wing will issue alarms, and nothing will change. And there will be another mass murder.”

This ain’t no movie, kids. This is life. Guns are designed to take it.

TRUTH IN HUMOR

Toles Cartoon From The Washington Post Syndicate

DOWN WITH JOE

Penn State University is doing the right thing.

Workers Tear Down The Paterno Statue At 9:30 This Morning

Now, maybe the people who run the institution can refocus on something novel: the development of students’ minds.

Joe Paterno made a lot of dough at the school. He signed a three-year contract in 2008 that called for an annual salary of a half million dollars a year. He made piles more — several times that amount per year — from ancillary sources.

The late unindicted co-conspirator was responsible for nothing more than the likes of instructing running backs on which way to turn when linebackers were approaching. It seems to me that particular aspect of the education of young men can be done by any number of “teachers” who’ve studied football (read: “have sat in front of the TV on Saturday and Sunday afternoons”).

Me? I’d spend half a million bucks on five teachers of a different sort, say:

  • Lynda Barry, creative writing and cartooning — The creator of “Ernie Pook’s Comeek”, “The Good Times Are Killing Me” and other works of reality-based fiction and visual art, Barry has transformed the struggles of an outsider into brilliantly funny and therapeutic entertainment. Think of what a role model she’d be for geeky, self-deprecating teenaged girls.

  • Rebecca Watson, general science — The founder of Skepchick, she works tirelessly to upgrade the status of brainiac girls and female scientists around the world.

  • Tariq Taylor, Humanities, black studies — As a Morehouse Collage grad student, Taylor visited Thailand after having never traveled in his life before. His experiences in that country were documented in the video “The Experience,” which reveals how travel can profoundly affect young black men who’ve been cloistered in racial and economic ghettos their whole lives.

  • Amy Goodman, journalism — The boss of Democracy Now!, Goodman digs deeper than just about any reporter alive.

  • Harriet Hall, MD, philosophy — The SkepDoc, Hall strips away the masturbatory bullshit that passes for curiosity and inquiry in the New Age and alternative medicine worlds today.

Wouldn’t you think a hundred G’s a year would be good pay for each of five individuals whose words and guidance might affect literally thousands of students a year? Oh, and none of those students would have to be winners of the gene pool lottery wherein they’d have been born bigger/faster/stronger than 99.9 percent of their peers.

Call me a dreamer.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE…

As if anybody needed more proof that Tony Robbins is a con artist:

Or that people who buy into his brand of fraud are dopes?

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

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

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

“What If?” From XKCD

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

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

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

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

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

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

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

Twin Lakes Recreation CenterAmerican Softball Association Slow Pitch State Tournament; all day

◗ IU Wells-Metz Theatre“The Taming of the Shrew”; 2pm

◗ IU Willkie AuditoriumCultural fair: Silk Road Bayaram Festival; 3-6pm

The Player’s PubBenefit for Margery Sauve; 6pm

Bryan ParkSunday Concert: Steel Panache, steel drum band; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series: “Oslo, August 31”; 7pm

Buskirk-Chumley TheaterBig Brothers Big Sisters fundraising gala; 7:30pm

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

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Pipe organ faculty recital; 8pm

The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — The Size of Color, Minus World; 9pm

The BishopDaniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, the Shams Band; 9pm

Ongoing:

◗ 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:

THE QUOTE

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov

MIKE ELK SPEAKS

Studs Terkel, in his book “Talking To Myself: A Memoir of My Times” writes that the best reporter is the one who asks the impertinent question.

Studs Terkel

As you know, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, reporters today ask mostly gotcha questions, the kind they know the answer to already but are designed simply to embarrass the subject, or softball questions that even the editor of a high school newspaper should be embarrassed to ask.

Let’s go a step further. Linda Ellerbee once wrote that if she hadn’t made someone feel uncomfortable in her reporting for the day, she felt as though she hadn’t done her job.

Linda Ellerbee

Then, of course, early 20th Century newspaperman Finley Peter Dunne said the job of the the journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Mike Elk yesterday asked an impertinent question (actually, two), made a bunch of people feel uncomfortable, and afflicted a big shot.

Bingo! The man is a three-time winner.

Elk got up yesterday at a business/political masturbatory press event in Washington where the big boss of Honeywell International, David Cote, expected to be lavished with praise for…, um, well, for being the big boss of Honeywell.

See, Honeywell sachems were also scheduled to guide Barack Obama around by the elbow at the company’s headquarters in the appropriately named Golden Valley, Minnesota, so both the prez and the company could tell the world how wonderful they both are.

Only Mike Elk elected not to play the game. He took the audience microphone and referred to a Fortune Magazine handjob article about Honeywell and Cote, wherein the boss crowed what terrific corporate citizens he and his outfit are. Then Elk flung two impertinent questions at Cote: one about Honeywell’s union busting practices (the company’s Metropolis, Illinois, plant first locked out, then axed 1400 union workers) and the other about a possible radiation leak there. The idea being, those aren’t the acts of nice neighbors.

Well, the assembled reporters, PR flaks, pols, and execs gasped, we never!

Elk got the mic yanked out of his hand and he was given the thumb. When he protested that he was a reporter and showed his credentials, one woman’s off-screen voice can be heard saying, “That’s not a member of the press from the Hill; this is a member of the press.” Presumably, she’s pointing at some well-behaved media stenographer who’ll only ask Cote what wondrous things he and Honeywell have done lately.

Tell Me, Mr. Cote, What’s It Like To Be You?

In fact, after Elk was given the bum’s rush, another person got up and said, “One of the things I’m concerned about is, the, um, y’know, the unemployment rate for African American young people is — I don’t know whether this is true, it says 38 percent? — and, um, my son was an all-best high school….” Here, the vid ends, cutting her off in mid-interrogation, which is too bad because it seemed to be the preamble for an all-time great softball question.

The speaker clearly was telling the assembled multitude how fabulous her kid is and then probably was going to ask what Honeywell proposed to do about putting such fine young lads to work in plush corner offices ASAP. Then Cote could tell her how terrific Honeywell is at hiring African-Americans and all other people who were born with brown skin. Then everybody could have glowed and grinned, the men could arrange a circle jerk and the woman could have a group hug.

We’re fabulous!

I thank the god I don’t believe in that I never was able to fit into a corporation environment like Honeywell’s.

BTW: I love how the woman wonders if it’s true that unemployment among African-American young people could possibly be 38 percent. It introduces just the right amount of faux-skepticism about a real problem that could just as easily have been described as “the historically persistent high levels of joblessness among young blacks.”

Man, the corporate world demands an unconscionable amount of toadiness — not only from its paid minions but from the public at large.

Be thankful Mike Elk is not a toady.

On the other hand, Elk never got answers to his questions and most of the mainstream news yesterday was about the Obama tour of the Honeywell plant. So score one for the corporatocracy versus the impertinent journalist.

LEO’S BLOOMINGTON (OR IS IT BLOOMINGTON’S LEO?)

Leo D. Cook ought to be granted the title of Mr. Bloomington here and now.

Wouldn’t he be perfect as the local radio or TV host who interviews all the fascinating characters who live in and pass through this bustling metrop?

The Definitive Leo D. Cook Photoshopped Photo

He could tell stories, draw the people out, and otherwise create a weekly hour’s worth of whacked-out chat. Can you imagine a show with the guests Steve Volan, Jeremy Gotwals, and, say, Lynda Barry, who’s in town for this coming week’s IU Writers Conference?

People In Our Listening Area Are Advised To Take Cover

That conversation might be declared a hazardous incident site by FEMA. Or it could be great radio.

Anyway, Leo’s long-range plan to attain celebrity takes another step forward this coming week with the commencement of “Bloomington’s Got Talent,” a weekly talent (duh) show at The Bluebird. The thing will run every Tuesday night through the summer. Leo will emcee.

Registration begins at 9:30pm with the first acts going onstage at 10.

TURN OFF YOUR TV — GO OUT

Lots to do this weekend. Luckily, you’ve got the Pencil’s GO! events listings. Click the logo. Follow instructions.

SUMMER SOFT

It’s June. The blazing days are coming. But it’s perfect out right now.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’ve never really had a hobby, unless you count art, which the IRS once told me I had to declare as a hobby since I hadn’t made any money with it.” — Laurie Anderson

ARTISTS AND GALLERIES OPEN HOUSE

First things first — you have to go to the GO! page today. Click the logo now.

Bloomington is humming with events and activities on this first day of June. Leading the way is this weekend’s Summer Arts Blast. Tonight, galleries around downtown will throw their doors open for the Arts Walk. Painting, photography, poetry, film, music — you name it. Just go to GO! for all the info you’ll need.

Tomorrow and Sunday we’ll have the Open Studios Tour wherein artists around town let people into their homes and studios to see how their art is made.

Which reminds me of the annual Pilsen East Artists Open House that would take place in September in my old Chicago neighborhood. East Pilsen was a designated arts community, chock-full of artists, musicians, playwrights, authors, sculptors and others who were habitually late with their rents.

Pilsen East Artists Collective, The Lampreys

The arts walk happened over a weekend and usually began at noon and ran through 8:oo or so.

One of the artists loved telling this particular story.

Many of the people who would pass through the studios and homes of the artists were young professionals with brand new families who were more concerned with checking out the neighborhood to determine if they should buy in rather than with the art on display.

Now, this type of creature was roundly loathed by the artists for several reasons. One, they were really nothing more than transplanted suburban yuppies (bet you haven’t heard that word in a million years) who would only live in the city until their children were old enough to go to school, at which time they’d flee back to places like LaGrange or Highland Park.

Ooh, We Love The (White, Safe Part Of The) City!

Second, their presence in an arts neighborhood signaled, essentially, the end of said arts neighborhood. See, in Chicago, arts neighborhoods serve as transition states between neighborhoods filled with brown people and those filled with detestable white pseudo-hipsters.

By the time the neighborhood would be washed clean of its brownness, the artists would be priced out.

Anyway, one Saturday morning the artist in question was chatting with some art walkers who’d stopped in and were sincerely curious about his work. A husband and wife came in pushing a luxury stroller that had about as many extras as a Mercedes automobile and, for all the artist knew, probably cost as much as well.

Nothing’s Too Good For Our Little Man

Since the stroller was nearly as wide as a Mercedes to boot, the husband was dashing about in the artist’s home, moving things to make a path for the stroller’s precious princely contents. The artist watched this in amazement.

Suddenly, the young messiah in the stroller announced he was thirsty and only juice would do. So, like that, the daddy-o marched over to the artist’s refrigerator and, without asking, began rummaging around for the juice his heir demanded.

Now, the refrigerator contained only the usual artists’ provisions: a half carton of out-of-date eggs, an almost-empty salsa jar, and store-brand mayonnaise. So the artist didn’t make a move to stop the man from rifling through his private space. He wanted, instead, to watch him.

Maybe Some Vintage Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Too

Eventually, the daddy-o concluded that his golden boy, who by this time was shouting for his juice,  would go ungratified, at least in this particular spot.

So the father closed the refrigerator door and turned to the artist. “Don’t you have any juice here?’ he demanded.

“No,” came the reply

“No?” Pops asked, incredulous.

“No.”

The couple and their squalling kid left the premises forthwith.

The artist and his other guests merely laughed.

So, here’s a tip. Stay out of the artists’ refrigerators this weekend.

Otherwise, enjoy the open houses.

THE CREAM OF THE VINTAGE FASHION SHOPS

While you’re traipsing around downtown digging the art, make sure to stop in at Brynda Forgas’s Hidden Closet in its new location directly behind the Book Corner.

The Hidden Closet

Brynda’s throwing a big opening party for the place staring at 5:00pm. The entrance is on the Kirkwood side. Trust me, it’ll be worth your while; she’ll will be serving cream puffs.

WELL, IF YOU REALLY MUST BE A WRITER….

As if there isn’t enough to do this weekend, get ready for the IU Writers Conference starting Sunday.

Featured scribblers include Lynda Barry (arguably one of the coolest people ever to draw a breath), Dan Chaon, Jean Thompson, Erin Belieu, Lou Berney, Jenny Browne, and James Canary (apparently, he has no website).

Lynda Barry’s Self-Portrait

The shebang runs through Friday, the 8th. One highlight will be a featured reading Monday night by Dr. Susan Gubar, whose book “Memoir of  Bebulked Woman” recounts her struggle with blade-happy surgeons who carved her up in an effort to rid her body of ovarian cancer.

Each day from Monday through Friday is packed with classes for writers and those aspiring to the maddening vocation.

As of this AM, all classes and workshops were still open for registration so get on it, baby.

Here’s a tip from a writer who’s been clacking the keyboards professionally since 1983: unless you’ve got an insatiable jones akin to heroin addiction to put your thoughts, imaginings, and/or fever dreams on paper (or LCD screen) get out while the getting’s good.

Writers, by and large, are whacked-out, half-drunk, personally unendurable, and usually broke. And those are the successful ones.

If, on the other hand, you can’t stop yourself from stringing words together, then by all means sign up for some IUWC sessions.

PAPERBACK WRITER

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

It took me years to write, will you take a look?

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