Category Archives: Marijuana

Hot Air

City Of Lit

Keep your eyes and ears open for a new designation for the city of Bloomington (fingers crossed).

There’s a movement afoot to get this teeming megalopolis tabbed a City of Literature by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known to us acronym-o-philes (made-up word; you’re welcome) as UNESCO. The UN agency pushes eggheaded pursuits around the globe so that all nations can live like sisters and brothers and not nuke the bejesus out of each other. Good luck with that.

Parker

Writer Dorothy Parker, Sharpening Her Tongue*

Ennyway, Caveat Emptor‘s John McGuigan has pitched the idea to Mayor Mark Kruzan who, in turn, has made City Council mistress of civics Susan Sandberg the point person on it.

Other Cities of Literature so far include include Iowa City, home of the world-renowned Iowa Writers Workshop, right here in Murrica as well as these international outposts:

  • Edinburgh, (Scotland) UK
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Norwich, (England) UK
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Granada, (Andalusia) Spain

So, hey, why not us? Acc’d’g to Sandberg, the 2015 deadline for applying for designation is mere weeks away so B-ton will aim for the 2016 window. The C. of L. is part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities dealio that recognizes “Creative Hubs” and “Socio-cultural Clusters” which:

  1. Strengthen the creation, production, distribution, and enjoyment of cultural goods and service at the local level;
  2. Promote creativity and creative expression especially among vulnerable groups, including women and youth;
  3. Enhance access to and participation in cultural life as well as enjoyment of cultural goods;
  4. Integrate cultural and creative industries into local development plans.

That’s us, right? So, pen-pushers, keyboard clackers, and other ink-stained wretches, contact our mistress of civics if you wanna suggest, support, or otherwise stuff the ballot box for our application.

[ * — Dorothy Parker has nothing to do with Bloomington; I just like her.]

Friday At The Fell

Speaking of B-ton’s creative types, the Ledge Mule Press‘s Dave Torneo — a crackerjack poet and letter-writer — will host tonight’s I Fell Building exhibit, Four Views.

Artists Erik Woodworth, Laurel Leonetti, David Long, and Sean Pendergast will trot their stuff out, mainly dealing w/ “unique representations of the subjective, images abstract and emergent.” (Artists, right?)

Woodworth

Erik Woodworth

Oh, and put aside next Friday eve for another installment of the Ledge Mule poetry reading series. Stayed tuned for more info.

Baked Bruisers

You can believe it or not but one former National Football League player says at least 60 percent of active players smoke marijuana regularly. This player, former star running back Jamal Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons, believes NFL players toke up not just for the high but because it helps them bear the pain incurred through daily hard-hitting practices as well as the body-blasting three hours of every weekly game.

NFL

Oh, Wow.

Here are the reasons advanced by players for smoking pot:

  • As mentioned, it serves as an effective pain reliever
  • It helps ameliorate concussion symptoms
  • This generation of players grew up in an era when marijuana carried almost no negative stigma
  • The league tests for banned substances, including marijuana, at a specific time of the year, allowing players to clean out their systems at that time then return to regular use thereafter
  • The league and the players association may have a secret deal wherein marijuana users are not chased with any vigor because, according to one player, “we wouldn’t be able to field a league.”

And the inexorable march toward the end of marijuana prohibition continues unabated.

Just Say No

All we can do is ask why.

The Colorado program that provides low-income women with free contraceptive devices is in danger of ending. See, a private funding organization pitched few mill at Colorado health officials so they could give free long-lasting birth control to women in the state. It was sort of a test — if women, especially poor ones, got intrauterine devices, for example, would that reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancies, and abortions?

IUD

The IUD — A Fairly Expensive Little Gadget

The answer? It sure as hell would. All three totals in CO not only dropped over the period of the program, they dropped precipitously. As in better than 40 percent. Poor women flocked to get the devices implanted. They flocked less and less to welfare offices and abortion clinics.

Huzzah, right?

Wrong. The private funding has run out and this past spring Colorado lawmakers refused to allocate dough for the program. I guess they just like the idea of single mothers on welfare, high school dropouts having babies, and abortion clinics sweeping out wombs by the score.

I mean, why else wouldn’t you fund such a bang-up good program?

Hey, wait a minute, I remember now: the Religious Right hates the idea of females having sex even worse than they hate welfare and abortion.

Okay, never mind.

Hot Air

Blockbuster

Looks like Malcolm Abrams is a genius with his Bloom Magazine Book Club idea. Not only did his event with Michael Koryta pack the house earlier this month, the club’s current selection, Scott Russell Sanders, looks to be just as successful — maybe even more so.

Bloomingtonians have wiped out the Book Corner‘s stock of Sanders’ Divine Animal, the title BMBC participants will discuss at the club’s meeting next month in FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge. Book Corner honcho Margaret Taylor flashed an urgent message yesterday afternoon directing me to order dozens more copies and so I have.

If I know Scott, he’ll be lugging a carton of …Animals in on his shoulder first thing tomorrow morning. “Malcolm’s book club is a boon to the community — and to writers,” Sanders says.

Sanders

Sanders

So, don’t worry — if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, amble on by. That is, if you have the fortitude to amble in these godawful frigid conditions.

The Bloom Book Club gathering featuring Sanders will be Tuesday, March 31st, at 5:30pm.

Self-Loathing

A lot of women out there must hate their vaginas. That’s the only conclusion I can come to after reading “The 6 Weirdest Things Women Do to Their Vaginas” in Mother Jones online.

So, here’s what enough sisters do to their nethers to make the vaginal-cosmetic-industrial complex swim in billions:

  • They use vaginal deodorants

Vaginal Spray

Um, I Think Her Aim Is A Bit Off

  • They douche
  • They get their vaginas tightened by plastic surgeons
  • They get their labia sculpted by plastic surgeons
  • They put mints in their vaginas to make them smell and taste better
  • They get their labia bleached and dyed

BTW: Those mints? They’re branded for vaginal use but, Mother Jones reports, the mints — called Linger, the “internal feminine flavoring system” — aren’t all that different from candy. Which, the mag reminds us, is hard, dissolvable sugar. And which, MJ warns, is a formula for a monster yeast infection.

BTW II: A few years ago I came upon the startling discovery that there are scads of women in this mad, mad, mad, mad world who get their anuses bleached. So vaginal lip bleaching would seem to be a natural outgrowth from that creative craft. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a lover out of my bed for having the wrong color anus or vagina. Some people!

[h/t to Tanisha Caravello]

Uh, I’ll Have Three Wit’ Everything, Man

If a fiction writer came up with this scenario s/he’d either be laughed out of the business or declared a mad genius.

Superdawg is one of my beloved hometown of Chicago’s most well-known hot dog joints. I cannot adequately describe the humongous snap-skin wienee in a steamed poppy seed bun, surrounded by crispy crinkle-cut french fries, accompanied, of course, by a chocolate malt so think the straw can stand up in it indefinitely.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I type this.

Superdawg

Anyway, the great state o’Illinois is considering allowing medical marijuana clinics to open up therein and just take a wild guess where one of them might be. Yeah, that’s right, directly across the street from Superdawg!

Superdawg’s owner, Scott Berman, should be up for Businessperson of the Year based on this quote alone:

We’re in favor of anything that brings customers to the area. This will help people. I see it no differently than a doctor’s office or dentist’s office opening there.

Next time you’re in Chi., take a spin up to Superdawg and give Berman your business.

Sometimes life is indeed good.

[h/t to John Spencer Bergman]

To Your Health

One of my fave cocktails is vodka with V8 juice. See, I get 1 cup of vegetables with an 8-ounce serving. It’s really health food.

Vodka & V8

Hot Air

The Glass, Half Full

Loyal Pencillistas know I waste few opportunities to criticize the lunkheads, lunatics, and anencephalics who all too often make up this holy land’s legislatures, police depts., and boardrooms. A casual reader of these screeds might even get the impression I think we live n the worst of possible places.

We don’t.

A glance at any day’s world news report makes me wish to clasp doughheads like Louie Gohmert or Rush Limbaugh to my bosom and call them brothers.

We do not behead people in this country.

Beheading

Photo: Nicole Tung via Al Jazeera America

We do not cut the clitorises off little girls and young women in this country.

We do not stone women for having sex.

We do not force girls and young women into marriages.

We do not engage in the mass killings of people because we disapprove of the subtle differences in the ways they worship their gods.

We do not have a state religion.

All that said, I’m not going all Panglossian on you. We’re a mess, honestly, but it is natural for any human organization to be messy. Messiness is hard-wired in us.

I’ll take our mess, thank you.

[On second thought, I don’t think there are any circumstances under which I’d embrace Gohmert and Limbaugh.]

Gohmert/Limbaugh

No, Not My Brothers

Dude, It’s Dry Out There!

Some fourteen pounds of marijuana were removed from the Bloomington market Sunday, acc’d’g to today’s Herald Times (paywall).

Panic

That means a lot of panicky phone calls are being made around town this week.

Drop Dead

Wait, wait, wait — can this be true?

The Los Angeles Times reports that anywhere from 12 to 24 percent of the Central American kids who’ve been booted out of this country because they were “illegal” and whose lives or deaths good patriotic Americans should not give a shit about have, well, died.

That is, within the last few weeks a significant number of youngsters returned home to hell holes like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador after they tried to escape to America for safety have been shot dead.

Immigration

Photo: Mark Boster/LA Times

Nice work, o protectors of our borders. It’s times like these when I wish I believed in an afterlife so I could fantasize the not-my-problem crowd burning in hell.

Hot Air

They Are The Enemy

Slut-shaming is in the news these days following the Isla Vista murder rampage. Elliott Rodger’s shooting and stabbing spree followed the release of a manifesto indicting all women primarily for being, well, sluts. Rodger had found a like-minded community of incels, puahaters, and garden-variety woman haters. In the ensuing ten days, some commentators have suggested that males who aren’t enraged to the point of homicide by members of the opposite sex ought to put some real pressure on their fellow XY-ers to knock off the name-calling and the foul categorization of women as sex monsters.

From Surviving Incel blog

From The Blog, Surviving Incel

It ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that.

I know a young man who had a girlfriend a few years back, probably 2010, IIRC. The two were inseparable. They made no secret of their nearly uncontrollable passion for each other. They’d slip away at any time of the day or night and return, perhaps 45 minutes later, with cat-that-ate-the-canary smirks on their faces.

In fact, the only thing that could rival their hunger for each other was their taste for pot. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two people who had more sex and smoked more marijuana in a day than those two. If I had one-tenth the intercourse and got high one-twentieth the time these two did, I’d probably be in a coma.

Let’s call them Randy and Ashley.

Randy had no job nor any prospects. Ashley worked several jobs, seating customers at a couple of local restaurants and taking pizza orders over the phone at another. They both lived at home with their parents. Those of us who knew the two figured that all the money she earned went to buy pot. They were pot aficionados. They bragged they only smoked the best. Once I asked Randy how much he typically paid for his pot and he responded, pride in his voice, “A thousand dollars an ounce.” When I reported back to the rest of the folks who know them, we all agreed that Randy and Ashley had to kill off a quarter ounce every three or four days, easily. That meant they had to come up with a thou every two weeks.

Marijuana

Primo

That would be Ashley’s dough. It seemed she was perfectly content sharing her hard-earned wages with Randy. On the outside, at least. On the inside, perhaps, she might have harbored some resentment. Who knows? I only know that one day the bad news came around that Randy and Ashley had broken up. It was a shock.

Next time I saw young Randy, I asked him what happened.

“Ashley,” he blurted, disgusted, ” is a slut.”

I considered this for a moment. My first guess was that she’d found somebody else and had thrown Randy over. Generally, when a suburban stoner gets dumped, he’ll characterize the ex as a slut, a whore, a cunt, or in any and all of a dozen other ways, most of which have to do with the former girlfriend being incapable of refraining from having sex with anyone, up to and including the unwashed homeless and the dangerously insane.

As I sat there pondering this, I’d already started formulating a plan to introduce the idea to him that just because Ashley had given him the gate didn’t mean that she was pathologically sexual. People break up with each other all the time, I would say. Even married people. Often there’s Another Man/Woman involved.

45 Label

Ironically, that’s how Randy and Ashley had gotten together. He’d begun hanging out with a stoner crowd of which she was a part. Even though she was going out with another member of the group at the time, they hooked up and next thing anybody knew she’d thrown over the old boyfriend for Randy.

At no time during their torrid affair did Randy ever imply that Ashley was a slut for jumping from her old boyfriend to him. I’d imagine Randy viewed that switch of allegiances as a testament to her good sense and fine taste. She should have been lauded for that decision, I’m sure Randy thought.

“So,” I said, “she’s seeing somebody else now, huh?”

“Nah,” Randy said.

I spluttered: “Whuh?”

“Yeah, she told me some shit about how I wasn’t lookin’ hard enough for a job,” he explained. “I mean, what the fk? There’s no jobs, man! What does she want? I can’t make anybody hire me.”

I was aware, though, that Randy’s job search was limited to a casual scan of the Sunday classified ads — when his father was looking at him. Otherwise, Randy’s prospects of getting a job depended mainly on the unlikely possibility that an employer would ring his doorbell and ask if anyone who needed a job was in.

I was puzzled. “Why,” I asked, “is Ashley a slut then?”

“She just is,” Randy said, a hint of impatience in his voice. “She fks anybody.”

“Oh. But she’s not seeing anybody now, right?”

“No. Not that I know of. But she probably will. Fkin’ slut.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t get it. Why is she a slut?”

“Look, she’s a slut, alright,” Randy said, his voice rising. “I know her. You don’t. Don’t give me any shit, alright?”

“Yeah, but….”

“Drop it, alright!”

See, the worst thing a female can be is a slut. That is, even if she’s not pathologically preoccupied with sexual congress. Ashley had hurt Randy. She’d abandoned him. There may be no worse sin to commit against a young man with no ambition and no purpose than to leave him. Now, he’s stuck with himself. That’s an almost unbearable sentence.

Anybody who’d do that is the lowest form of life there is. A slut.

I don’t see much of Randy these days. I do know that he’s still looking for a job and that there still aren’t any offers coming in immediately following an unexpected knock on the front door. I never did get the chance to at least hint that Ashley might not be a slut. I should have tried harder.

How To Play

How ’bout that Marc Tschida? Our town’s puzzle guy just got word that the National Museum of Play will be displaying one of his Bloomington jigsaw puzzles.

Tschida

Tschida On The Cutting Edge

Cool, huh?

She’s Gone

Aw heck, I was thinking about this song after finding that 45 label above, so let’s listen to the blue-eyed soul brothers together.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

THE DEAD DO IMPROVE

NPR marked today’s 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe with the usual navel-gazing about whether the movie biz used her or she used it.

Marilyn Monroe is becoming smarter by the year. By 2025, she’ll probably be known as an intellectual who dabbled in acting.

Blonde Bombshell Or Scientific Genius?

HURRY!

One of my fave annoyances is the growing tendency of people to write “Love you” when they mean “I love you.”

Is it really that much of an ordeal to key in the letter I and the extra space? Will doing so make the writer late for an important appointment?

I’m Late! (I’m Late, I’m Late, I’m Late)

“Love you” strikes me as impersonal and lazy.

ONE FOR ALL

If you’ve kept up with the screeds in these precincts of late, you know how spectacularly bored I’ve always been with the Olympics.

The track and field events are going on now. Funny thing is, I really like these competitions.

A Pole Vaulter Narrowly Misses The Sun

It occurs to me I’d actually like the Olympics if the games were limited to track and field, tests of the capabilities of individuals representing their countries.

That was the original intent of Olympics, not only in ancient Greek times but when the Olympiads were re-instituted back in 1896.

POT O’GOLD

It’s a good bet marijuana may be legalized in my lifetime (assuming I don’t drop dead tomorrow afternoon.)

Oh, Wow.

Will there be any more important catalyst in the long, slow slide toward legalization than the career of one Michael Fred Phelps II, history’s most decorated Olympic athlete and noted pot smoker?

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING

One last Olympics note (today).

Look, I admire Oscar Pistorius‘s dedication and discipline as much as you do.

AKA: “The Blade Runner”

But, honestly, the man is wearing a pair of springs.

How is that different from another athlete using performance enhancing drugs?

Sure, you might say poor Oscar was born without fibulae in his legs and had to undergo a double amputation when he was 11 months old so how can we deny this courageous man the use of his springs?

Well, that’s the point. I was born without the exquisite musculature and fantastic hand-eye coordination of Willie Mays. So why can’t I try to ameliorate those disadvantages with a few cycles of anabolic steroids?

Willie Mays On A New York City Street

See, sports competitions aren’t democratic contests. When it comes to games, not all men or women are created equal.

That’s why some people win Gold Medals or Most Valuable Player awards and others don’t.

HUMOR IS A ROUGH GAME

The Onion‘s taking heat for doing a faux news video showing a jet headed for a crash into the Willis Tower.

Formerly known as Sears Tower, the Willis was, until recently, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The joke is Sears operatives, flying the company jet, are attacking the interloper into their formerly sacred space.

From The Onion

Sound familiar?

Again, it’s a joke.

The Onion is a joke newspaper.

Many in New York and elsewhere detest the idea of jokes about 9/11. One woman was quoted as saying in the Huffington Post, “That’s not funny.”

She’s right. To her, it’s not funny. My suggestion? Don’t laugh.

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.

I Love Charts

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

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

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

Mental FlossFacts.

Click For Entire Story

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.

Bloomington Playwrights ProjectOriginal musical written by young people, grades 4-11, “Dream & Nightmares”; 2pm

Fairview United Methodist ChurchConcert of songs, arias, and duets from Broadway & opera; 2pm

Buskirk-Chumley Theater“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”; 3pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Weeds of Eden; 5-7pm

Bryan ParkSunday outdoor concert series: Afro Hoosier International; 6:30pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series: “Polisse”; 7pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ 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:

  • Coming — Media Life; August 24th through September 15th
  • Coming — Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture; August 24th through September 15th

◗ 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 CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

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

“Let me be clear about this: I don’t have a drug problem, I have a police problem.” — Keith Richards

POT O’TROUBLE

President Barack Obama has spent the weekend in Colombia and already nearly a dozen members of his party have been busted.

Hah!

Anyway, at the Summit of the Americas Obama is rolling over with his legs in the air, hoping the right wing will scratch his belly. He’s standing firm against the legalization of drugs even as other national leaders in the Western Hemisphere call for an end to the war on drugs and their legalization.

Personal message to the President: Barry, baby, the right ain’t gonna scratch your belly even if you claim you made love to your wife once with a hunting rifle in the bed, you want to outlaw Mexico, you’re turning the keys to the White House over to Pat Robertson, or you’re getting your daughters fitted for chastity belts.

Forget playing to them, Mr. President; play to us, the folks who fantasized that you equal change.

That’s all for me today. I’ll step aside for that sizzling library chick RE Paris, who’s done some fab research on marijuana, the laws governing it, and our weird, weird relationship with it. (BTW: guess what date Friday is.) Take it away RE.

re: ARTS & LETTERS — AMERICA’S FAVORITE ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE


“Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.”
(It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.) ~ Voltaire (1752)

Member from upstate New York: “Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?”
Speaker Rayburn: “I don’t know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it’s a narcotic of some kind.” (Marihuana Tax Act Hearing, 1937)

read more

GIMME SHELTER

So what vid did you think I was gonna post?

The Pencil Today:

WHERE’S THE HOT AIR? WHERE’S THE QUOTE?

Hoo, baby! Nothin’ like being a communications mogul.

The Electron Pencil media colossus today is bringing aboard the inimitable and redoubtable RE Paris, sizzling library chick and opinionator extraordinaire.

She’ll be appearing weekly in these parts, offering art and culture previews and reviews as well as her own brand of socio-political humdingery. RE’s all Tennessee courtliness on the outside but with 22 kilotons of explosive force underneath. Man, if you’ve got an appointment to meet RE for an alley fight, you’d better bring some artillery.

Fixin’ T’have A Chat With That RE Gal

We proudly present RE’s first post for the The Pencil international edition. (And I get to lean back and rake in… er, I get to lean back.)

Anyway, today’s post is a sweet little howdy from the purty lady. Don’t be fooled. She’s got some tooth-rattling screeds coming up in the next few weeks. Trust me — she’s already turned in a couple of down-and-dirties dealing with religion in the good ol’ USA and marijuana.

Worry not, Pencil fans, we’ve got armed reinforcements at the ready; they’ll be encircling The Electron Pencil Tower and Annex in beautiful downtown Bloomington when we publish RE’s post next week.

Electron Pencil Tower & Annex In Downtown Bloomington

For now, relax,  read on and get to know this charming southern belle with the sabre tongue. Please note she’ll have her own page here (click re: Arts & Letters just below our title banner.)

Enjoy — and take cover.

OBSESSIONS

Big Mike asked me to come over to the Electron Pencil to speak my mind every once in a while, so here I am. I met Mr. Glab shortly after he moved to Bloomington and was immediately taken by his mix of curiosity, world-weariness, humor and assortment of interesting hats.

This fascinator isn’t one of them, but it should be.

In turn, Big Mike thinks my speech patterns are strange but interesting. He thinks I talk funny. (This was actually said by a person from Chicago.) He makes public note each time I add vowels to words like “sound” (sahyound) or “there” (thayure.)

I suppose I consider myself a recovering southerner. (My name is R.E. and I’m from the south. “Hi, R.E.”)

I’ve lived in Bloomington for many years now, spent a little time residing in Belgium, but my roots are in the south and those roots still bind me and define more than a few of my obsessions, which I will write about from time to time.

So let me just put them out here now:

I have some other obsessions, too, but they don’t quite rise to “category,” such as:

1. The new golden age of American television in the last decade-plus, (well, maybe that is a category.)

2. Songs with whistling.

3. Friends who share interesting music, writing, books, art and ideas.

4. Book- and ephemera-collecting (and selling — you can see things I’ve listed for sale, find The Book Savoury on Facebook, and, eventually, my website will be active, or so the rumor goes.) I suppose this one is a category too, or maybe it’s a subcategory of “books.”

So, shout back, y’all. Let me know you’re here. (I really do not “speak Southern,” despite Big Mike’s insistence that I do.)

Here’s someone who does, however.

(Begging permission from my friends who have heard this one before: one of my favorite whistling songs from one of my favorite twangy girl singers.)

I’ll be checking in weekly.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” — Malcolm X

THE ANNUAL ELECTRON PENCIL PENNILESS LIST

What a coincidence!

Only two days after Forbes Magazine released its yearly list of the world’s billionaires, we at The Electron Pencil proudly present our inaugural annual roster of broke Americans.

Forbes Got Nuthin’ On Us

(We are working with our crack legal team to determine if we have a case against Forbes. It is our assertion that Forbes intentionally scheduled its release to upstage our eagerly awaited list of the Penniless. Stayed tuned for more developments.)

Several of the Forbes select few have expressed displeasure at having information about their personal finances splashed all over magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV. Our lucky few are circumspect as well. In fact, each of them has pleaded with us not to reveal their identities or net worth.

Forbes Porn

But we are nothing if not tireless, intrepid journalists. Our commitment to unearth the truth no matter the consequences must trump their desire for privacy. As a compromise, we will not use the full names of our honorees.

Now then, here is The Annual Electron Pencil Penniless List:

  • Ronald H.: A talented jazz saxophonist, Mr. H. recently moved out of his cozy pied-à-terre on the west side of Bloomington. He is now “traveling.” In other words, he is homeless. Mr. H. was ousted from his position as Vice President of Facilities Maintenance for a local elementary school last spring. He was a casualty of school budget cuts. He carries the entirety of his possessions in his backpack which has a missing zipper. Sharp-eyed passersby can catch glimpses of Mr. H.’s holdings when his backpack flap flips open. He is considered among the most open and transparent of our 2012 honorees.
  • Miranda P.: She and her two children — Zach, 5, and Lily, 3 — also are “traveling.” Mrs. P. is currently in the process of dissolving her partnership with Joshua P., who last December attempted a hostile takeover of her finances. Mr. P. at the time was putting together a straight cash transaction for sub-legal pharmaceuticals. When Mrs. P. rejected his entreaties for her cash, he threatened and eventually carried out a night-time assault upon her face. Mrs. P.’s jaw was wired shut and the discoloration around her eyes lasted well into the new year. Middle Way House now serves as temporary headquarters for Mrs. P.’s break-away firm.
  • Jeremy M.: Mr. M.’s home was ranked number one in Car and Driver’s 1992 Best Selling Cars list. His curbfront domicile is known popularly among neighbors as as “that damned red Taurus.” He inherited it from his grandfather who passed away in 2006 while Mr. P. was finishing up his master’s degree in fine arts. Mr. P. is looking to diversify by applying for work at Rally’s Hamburgers, Kroger on 2nd Street, and the Subway at Walnut and 6th streets. Some observers say Mr. P.’s total wealth has been adversely affected by his ill-advised leveraging of student loans to acquire his degree. Mr. P. has responded that his degree has been valued in certain quarters at $1.7 million over his lifetime, as opposed to his total debt load of $53,000. Mr. P. was recently seen purchasing a rare pair of red Chuck Taylors at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on North Rogers Street.
  • Kevin W.: A pioneer in the field of bipolar disorder patientry, Mr. W. visits the four corners of Bloomington on his daily perambulations. He is known far and wide as an often accessible member of the local penniless community. He has made enemies, though, during the days before he receives his monthly dosage of lithium. Mr. W. impresses with his ability to identify the day of the week of any random date a questioner might suggest. Some analysts believe this indicates he also possesses a form of Asperger’s Syndrome which would help solidify his inclusion in future Penniless lists.
  • Jana C.: A long-time leader in the local physical pleasure industry, Ms. C. recently became affiliated with Narcotics Anonymous and has indicated she may be looking to move on to other fields. Her ambitions may be tempered by the pressing needs of members of the housing, utilities, and grocery industries for immediate remuneration for services and goods. When her liquidity sank to an all-time low in February, Ms. C. confided to close friends that she may never be entirely free to leave the sex industry.

We salute our Penniless achievers.

TIME IS NOT MONEY

Speaking of the penniless, our go-to researcher R.E. Paris points out that Lester Chambers of the 1960’s power soul group, the Chambers Brothers, has fallen on the hardest of times.

Chambers posted an Occupy Wall Street-type letter on You Tube describing his unfortunate state this week. The post went viral.

Chambers says the recording contract he and his band mates signed in the mid-60’s screwed him out of royalties. He writes, “Only 1% of artists can sue. I am the 99%.”

The Electron Pencil ran a video of the Chambers Brothers’ hit, “Time Has Come Today,” earlier this year.

POT IS MONEY

So, the spectacularly crazed Pat Robertson has come out in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Wild, huh?

Maybe no so wild when you think about it. Perhaps the human race’s pipeline to the creator of the universe has concluded that too many of his hard-pressed contributors are turning to pot harvesting for him to continue being a prohibitionist.

Pat Knows: You Can’t Contribute If You’re In The Joint

Frankly, this development bums me out, man. I’ve been for the legalization of pot for decades. Sadly, now that Pat Robertson is as well, I’ll have to change my position.

Damn.

Come to think of it, doesn’t he look sorta high in the photo on the link?

CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SARAH

Roger Ebert digs the new HBO movie about Sarah Palin. Actually, “Game Change” is supposed to be about the failed 2008 run of John McCain for president but, honestly, McCain wasn’t the story at all.

I’m tempted to watch the movie but the casting of Julianne Moore as the winking dolt is problematic for me: I like Moore and I’d hate to have her associated with the New White Oprah from now on.

No, Julianne, No!

Too bad the producers couldn’t get Palin to play herself. Ebert describes her as “the greatest actress in American political history.”

ASK THE ANGELS

Patti Smith, babies.

Across the country, through the fields,

You know I see it written ‘cross the sky.

People rising from the highway

And war, war is the battle cry

And it’s wild, wild, wild, wild.

The Pencil Today:

GETTIN’ HIGH IN THE FRIENDLY SKY

The first hero I ever had was John Glenn. He was the first American to orbit the Earth in a space capsule, Friendship 7.

John Glenn, Weightless In Orbit

Glenn was a member of the coolest gang on the planet, the original Project Mercury astronauts. Let’s see, off the top of my head there were Glenn, Wally Schirra, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, um, uh….

Okay, help me Wikipedia. Oh yeah, I forgot Deke Slayton. Poor guy — was diagnosed with a heart murmur and was grounded before he could go up in a Mercury capsule. Fortunately, he was given clearance to ride on the Apollo/Soyuz mission in 1975.

So, I got six of the seven. Pretty good for 50 years later.

Swear to god, I spent the years from September 12, 1962, when President Kennedy committed America to landing humans (oh, okay, men) on the moon by the end of the decade, to July 20, 1969 in a state of eager impatience.

The only things I looked forward to as much were getting my first drivers license and, aw gee, having my first sexual experience.

Turns out the drivers license thing was an anticlimax. The sex thing, you’ll pardon the pun, was not.

But neither experience could match the night that Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin hopped out of the LEM onto the lunar surface. Honest. I remember that night — I do not remember my first sexual experience. Okay, call me a geek.

Buzz Aldrin On The Moon (Neil Armstrong In The Reflection)

I remember just staring at the moon that Sunday night. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see anything out of the ordinary but, still, I stared.

Yes, I was a space geek. Always have been. In fact, The Loved One and I visited Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center a few years ago. I kid you not, I spent a full 20 minutes just gawking — with my mouth open — at the Saturn rocket hanging from the ceiling of the museum.

Saturday morning when The Loved One and I walked into Soma Coffee, our pal Alex Straiker, the mad scientist of the brain, was glued to his laptop screen, watching NASA’s live stream of of the Mars Curiosity Science Laboratory liftoff.

“Only 22 minutes to go,” Straiker said, appearing about as boyish as a graying, middle-aged man can.

“Aw, cool!” I said, just as boyish.

Nice to know there are at least three of us left in this world.

FROM OUTER SPACE TO INNER CRANIUM

Speaking of Alex Straiker, check out his microscopy images on our Gallery & Studio page.

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