Category Archives: Marcus Welby MD

The Pencil Today:

HotAirLogoFinal Monday


Dave: “Did you ever go to confession?”

Moocher: “Twice.”

Dave: “Did it make you feel better?”

Moocher: “Once.”

— Dialogue from “Breaking Away

Publicity Still from "Breaking Away"


We really haven’t given much thought to the idea of domestic terrorism since the financial crash of 2007/08 — which, by the way, was a government-sponsored, systematic terrorist act all its own.

In the weeks following 9/11 every single one of us was scared to death that mad Arabs would be flying airplanes into skyscrapers of every big city and parking trucks full of fertilizer-based explosives outside public libraries from Bedford to Skokie.

Bedford (IN) Library

A Target?

Even I, the World’s Smartest Man, who was telling people within hours of the Twin Towers falling that the attack was a one-off, that nothing even remotely like it would happen again within the foreseeable future, still harbored in my heart an irrational, petrifying fear that we were in for it.

Then, of course, we flexed our muscles and marched headlong into a bizarrely truncated war in Afghanistan, with our president, who was being compared to Churchill in the aftermath of the attacks (no lie), deciding to cut off the pursuit of Osama bin Laden and send our soldiers into the meat grinder that was Iraq.

Before long, and after toppling the governments of two sovereign nations, we began to think of ourselves less as victims and more as the people who ruled the world.

And we were, militarily, culturally, economically — just about every which way you cared to look at it. Then the investment bankers and their pimps in Washington saw their double-downs and double-crosses blow up like…, well, like a terrorist’s bomb. With a recession bordering on depression staring us on the face, we had zero time to think about crazy Arabs attacking us.

Blankfein, Dimon, et al

Domestic Terrorists

Still, this holy land spends hundreds of millions of dollars — nay, billions — on blue-uniformed, inadequately trained, cheap labor to protect our airports, and bureaucrats, pencil-pushers, and wonks to man our Department of Homeland Security.

You’d think we’d just spent the past decade-plus enduring attacks from every side.

We haven’t. Not only that, we have been living, fatly, in the safest country in the world, in terms of wild-eyed outsiders coming here and blowing us up. Never mind that our own citizens are shooting each other up like those of no other nation in the history of the Earth.

It’s beside the point that crazy Arabs are as gnats compared to crazy Americans who prey on their fellow citizens.

Anyway, Reason magazine has run a compelling piece on terrorists and us. Here’s a taste: Did you know that fewer than 500 citizens of this holy land have been offed by outside terrorists since 1970? That, of course, is not counting 9/11, which many might counter is like saying the Hoosier men’s basketball team beat Coppin State by 87 points Saturday night if you just disregard the 51 points the Eagles scored.

On the other hand, our entire Homeland Security apparatus is based upon the outlier. It would be like Saint Tom Crean revamping the whole IU team and developing a new style of play because Coppin played tough in the first half and scored a few points.

Who knows, maybe the tens of thousands of people employed by DHS, the draconian Justice Department practices, and the PATRIOT Act have protected us from untold numbers of 9/11s. It’s impossible to know.

Read the piece, though. You won’t get any answers but, more importantly, it’ll raise questions.


I know next to nothing about college basketball. Oh, I know that IU’s big gun is named Cody Zeller (did I spell his name right?) And, let’s see now, um, the Hoosiers are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

How could I live in this town and not know these two things?

Other than that, college hoops is played by somebody else’s kids, ergo I don’t care.

So I had to do some research to find out what the Hoosiers had done this weekend.

In doing so, I discovered that the coach of Coppin State has the coolest name imaginable: Fang Mitchell.

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun

Fang Mitchell

Fang Mitchell! The only other human being I’ve ever heard of with the name Fang was Phyllis Diller’s husband. And that was a gag.

Oh, and one of Soupy Sales’ animal buddies was named White Fang. Here’s a description of White Fang from Wikipedia:

“‘The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA,’ who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt ‘claws’ jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie-thrower when Soupy’s jokes bombed.”

From "The Soupy Sales Show"

Soup Sales & White Fang

Fang Mitchell’s got quite a moniker to live up to.


Speaking of Hoosiers, The Loved One and I went out on a movie date Saturday night, while the rest of Bloomington humanity was crammed into Assembly Hall to watch IU crush Coppin State by 87 points (again, disregarding the 51 the Eagles actually scored.)

We saw “Lincoln” and T-LO cried at the end, natch, even though we already knew how it would turn out.

Anyway, we remained in our seat during the credits so the tomato could stem her leaking and, lo and behold, we learned that Jackie Earle Haley had appeared in the movie.

You remember him, don’t you? The geeky, short kid who played Moocher in “Breaking Away”?

Scene from "Breaking Away"

Moocher, Between Cyril (Daniel Stern) & Mike (Dennis Quaid)

Poor kid, he went and got married in the movie even though he was just a teenager. That scene of him going into the Monroe County Courthouse with his girlfriend sent a shiver down my spine.

Funny thing is, JEH actually did get married in 1979, the year “Breaking Away” was released. He was 18 that year.

Haley plays Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, part of a trio of emissaries who seek to negotiate a peace with Lincoln.

Scene from "Lincoln"

Haley In “Lincoln”

Moocher was the perfect role for him. Haley was born and raised in suburban Los Angeles but, honestly, he should have been a Hoosier. More specifically, he should have been a son of Bloomington. Or, better, Ellettsville.

I’ve lived in these parts for more than three years now and I’ve seen several dozen Moochers around and about. The first time I saw “Breaking Away” (only last year, by the way) I felt certain JEH was some local kid the producers had discovered to play the part.

It turns out Haley was a child star with credits going as far back as “Marcus Welby, MD” and “The Partridge Family.” Still, he screams South Central Indiana for me, the way Peewee Reese screams Louisville and John Belushi screams Chicago, the other towns in which I’ve lived.

I suppose if I had to pick an actual Bloomingtonian to scream Bloomington for me, it’d be Hoagie Carmichael, and that wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

He edges out that man about town, Leo Cook.

Leo Cook

Leo Cook, On Vogue In An Alternate Universe


From Science Is A Verb, via I Fucking Love Science:

Science Is A Verb

If you missed it this morning, try to catch it just before dawn tomorrow. Take note, though, that people are spreading this viral piece of misinformation about the event. As usual, reality isn’t enough for Americans so we have to concoct nonsense to entertain ourselves.

The Pencil Today:


“I think I’m constantly in a state of adjustment.” — Patti Smith


Now, that’s more like it.

My soul has been cleansed by yesterday’s act of public contrition. Confession, you might call it, albeit a secular form of the holy Catholic rite. Isn’t that what the Internet and blogging are for? To bare one’s soul, to let the world know of one’s triumphs and foibles, to shout out to upward of a billion wired citizens of Earth what one ate for breakfast this morning?

Yes, I experienced catharsis by proclaiming to the Internet-connected inhabitants of this little blue dot that I should not have wished to pummel the faces of those two smug little shits whose lyrical ode to Rick Santorum has become a You Tube/Facebook sensation.

Looking For A Strong Man To Tell Them What To Do With Their Wombs

Confession. Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has, in fact, been 42 years since my last confession.

Yep, I did it last in my freshman year at Fenwick High School, all-boys at the time, a highly disciplined college prep school for which my parents scrimped and saved to pay the $675 annual tuition, at the time a princely sum.

They did it so I could spend my days around a better class of juveniles than the hoodlums whom I’d begun to join nightly behind the fieldhouse at Amundsen Park, where we smoked cigarettes, drank Boone’s Farm Apple Wine, and engaged in the occasional fistfight.

A mere two weeks after school had started in that September of 1970, my father and I attended the Father and Son Communion Breakfast. A confessional box was set up just outside the Boulevard Room where the Mass was to be held, a convenience for all those high-achievement daddy-os whose jobs were too demanding for them to get to confession earlier in the week.

My old man said, “Do you need to go to confession?” It was more an accusation than a question. I nodded yes and so he and I both got into line. We waited a few minutes for the bankers and real estate execs ahead of us to unburden themselves of the sin, presumably, of keeping Chicagoland the most segregated metropolitan area in the nation.

What my father had to confess I could not speculate. He worked all day at a cardboard box factory, came home after dark, ate dinner, donned his Bermuda shorts, slipped his socks just over his heels but left them on to keep his toes warm as he lay back in his recliner to watch the “Flip Wilson Show” or “Marcus Welby, MD.” Within 15 minutes he’d be snoring, his toasty toes pointed toward heaven.

Flip Wilson (As Geraldine) With Burt Reynolds

“Joe!” my mother would yell, eliciting from him an alarmed snort. “For chrissakes, I can’t even hear the TV!” At which point he’d stop snoring, shift in his chair, and promptly re-commence his apneal symphony within a minute or two.

What in Our Father’s name did he have to confess? I couldn’t know at the time; I would learn many years later.

A more compelling question was, What did I have to confess? I was a 14-year-old dweeb, wearing horn-rimmed glasses, having a slight problem with acne (concealed, or so I thought, by the pancake layer of Clearisil I wore on my face) and still a good five years away from my very first sexual experience — with another person, that is.

Fighting The Good Fight

Well, there you go — I could have confessed any or all of the several thousand times I’d engaged in self-pollution since my previous confession but, of course, I didn’t. How could I tell a priest that I touched myself?

(Lucky I was skittish about it — he might have interpreted such a confession as a come-on.)

“… And Then There Was The Time With The French Bread….”

All I remember is I told him some generic, made-up stuff — I disobeyed my parents and I lied three times. Yeah, that was my last confession.

Until yesterday. Phew. If I believed in god, I’d feel forgiven. If I believed I had a soul, I’d be certain it was spotless.

I believe in the Internet, though. I’ve got my Comcast broadband bill right here on my desk.

Forgive me, Page Viewers, for I have sinned.


The first time The Loved One and I ever passed Batchelor Middle School on Bloomington’s west side, I pointed at the facility and said, “Oh look, there’s a state prison.”

No joke. The two of us had to pass the joint by again yesterday, on the way to TLO’s friend’s house. It still looks like a correctional institution.

I ask you this: What sort of cruel school board would hire such a sadistic architect to design the grim, forbidding gulag that is the Batchelor Middle School?

From my own experience I know that the difference between dropping out and staying in school can hinge on the slightest factor. A mean teacher. An episode of harassment.

How about reporting every morning to a featureless concrete blockhouse set far back in a field as if to protect the surrounding environs from the inmates within?

I know if I were a Batchelor inmate, I could easily be walking toward the place one day and suddenly stop and say to myself, “Screw it.”


The culture of an entire society can change within a single lifetime. Want proof?

Check this vid.

Number 47 said to Number 3

You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see.

I sure would be delighted with your company

Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.

It should be noted that as Elvis sings that fourth line, he’s thrusting his hips.

Jailhouse Rock, 1957: a movie scene for teenaged girls to swoon over.

Jailhouse Rock, 2012: incidental music for streaming gay porn



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