Category Archives: Maurice Sendak

The Pencil Today:


“Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself.” — Dick Cavett


This is a call to arms.

Turn off your TVs, get up off your sofa, crank up your computer and start writing emails to the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation. I’ll supply some good addresses for you below.

First, the issue.

I have learned through a reasonably reliable source that someone — presumably a parent — has challenged the MCCSC to remove Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, “In the Night Kitchen,” from the Binford Elementary School library.

Details of the challenge are sketchy at this moment since Binford teachers and administrators have not even sat down together to consider the challenge. But “In the Night Kitchen” has had a long history of raising the hackles of bluenoses since its publication in 1970.

It’s the story of a kid, who looks to be two or three years old, who has a dream that he has fallen into a huge bowl of batter being prepared by a trio of chefs. The three chefs, all of whom jarringly resemble Oliver Hardy, are making a batch of bread dough.

The kid gets tossed around amid all the stirring and kneading. Soon, the kid learns that the chefs are missing a key ingredient for their dough, milk. So the kid fashions an airplane made of dough to fly around in search of the missing ingredient. He finds a giant bottle of milk and somehow manipulates it to pour its contents into the chefs’ bowl.

The bread is made, everybody’s happy, and the kid wakes up in his own bed.

So, what’s the problem?

This: the kid is naked as he’s tossed around in the dough. So naked that his little pizzle can be seen — his mini-danglers, too.

It’s not as if the kid’s full package is drawn in any excruciating detail. His baby penis is drawn in a general outline and is less prominent, naturally, than either of his thumbs. And his gonads are no more in your face than his big toes.

Only a very bizarrely obsessed mind could see this innocent little cherub and his male equipment as objectionable.

And it is to these bizarrely obsessed people we have to say, “Just shut up!”

Here’s a little more info on the Sendak book. It was named a Caldecott Honor Book. It was named one of the notable children’s books of the era 1940-70 by the American Library Association. The New York Times named it one of the best books of 1970. The Library of Congress has preserved it as exemplary of children’s books for that year.

Sendak is the beloved author of “Where the Wild Things Are,” for which he won a Caldecott Medal. He helped the Children’s Television Workshop develop the vision for “Sesame Street.” His work has earned him the Hans Christian Anderson Award, a National Book Award, a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and a National Medal of Arts. He even has an elementary school named after him in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Still, there are all those pesky — and potentially dangerous (to our liberties) — sex obsessives out there.

“In the Night Kitchen” has been named 25th on the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 list.

Man oh man. There’s a hell of a lot of whacked out people in this holy land.

So, be a good citizen. Pound away at your keyboard and let these MCCSC officials and teachers know we won’t be bullied by prigs, prudes, and hysterics. (BTW: I’m not going to hyperlink here because potential spammers could then scrape this site looking for these email addresses. So, just copy and paste — the extra step won’t kill you.)

  • Dr. Judith A. DeMuth, Superintendent of Schools, MCCSC:
  • W. Kelly Smith, Assistant Secretary, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Susan Wanzer, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Martha Street, secretary, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Jim Muehling, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Keith Klein, vice-president, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Dr. Lois Sabo-Skelton, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Dr. D. Jeannine Butler, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Joe Childers, principal, Binford Elementary:
  • Melinda Hamilton, librarian, Binford Elementary:

Oh, and if you happen to know who the parent is who’s raising this stink, gently tell him or her to sit down, relax, and have a drink maybe, or go get a massage.

Because, really, neither Maurice Sendak nor the Binford school library means you any harm.


The Pencil Today:


“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” — César Chávez


I stomped into Soma this morning like a bull in a coffee shop. Man, I was ready to lay into the Republicans for their union-busting triumph yesterday in the Indiana statehouse.

But my screed will have to wait. Just for a moment, mind you, but wait it will.

I purchased my customary pint of life-giving joe (which is really my ever-ready first priority on any given day) and strode purposefully to the cream and sugar bar to make the drug palatable.

There I saw Soma’s Toastmaster General, Smiling Kevin Sears.

“You look like a man who’s got something to do,” he observed.

“Yer damned right,” I said as I sweetened the pint. “Those goddamned Republicans aren’t gonna know what hit ’em.”

“Alright,” he said. “but let me ask you this first.”

“Go ahead,” I said, hoping my tone conveyed my urgency.

“What do people value more,” he asked, “their car or their connectivity?”

This? (The General Lee)

Suddenly and for the moment, I forgot all about my rage. I honestly didn’t know the answer.

Or This? (The Phone Car)

Smiling Kevin explained that he’s wondering what to do about his investment portfolio. Should he continue to sink his dough into oil and transportation stocks or should he transfer at least some of his wealth into telecoms?

So, Smiling Kevin’s finances aside, I put it to you, loyal readers. What’s more important to you — your hot rod or your smart-assed phone?

Remember, I’m from Chicago so I encourage you to vote as often as you like!


Now, then. The Republicans.

Okay, babies, you’ve got your anti-union legislation.

The GOP Has Discovered A Better Way Than This To Crush Unions

And that’s because you’ve got your Indiana General Assembly.

And you’ve got your Indiana Senate.

And your Indiana governor.

And your two US Senators from the Hoosier State.

Oh, by the way, you’ve got your entire US House of Representatives, too.

And your Reagan/Bush/Bush US Supreme Court.

And, for chrissakes, you’ve got your own 24-hour TV public relations agency.

And, let’s be honest, you’ve got your own race.

Party Faithful

So if I hear one more of you sons or daughters of bitches complain about how the liberals or socialists or feminists or Black Panthers or NPR reporters or Sharia Muslims or any other bogeymen that you want to scare the couch potatoes to death with are taking over this holy land, I’m gonna scream.

And I’m gonna do everything I can to get everyone I know to scream.

Book it, babies.


So Steve Llewellyn didn’t spend all his college days staring out the window or eating lunch. Of course, he was a grown man when he took some Communications and Culture classes at our hometown reformatory. He paid attention when he heard about the Iris Film Festival.

A few years later, after working on “The Trouble with Boys” as a cinematographer, he nudged director Chris Rall and screenwriter Tony Brewer and told them to enter their video opus.

And so they did. And it was accepted. And, this coming Saturday, TTWB will be screened along with 17 other works of cinematic genius at the IU Cinema.

(l to r) Rall, Brewer, & Llewellyn

Here (direct from the Iris FB page) is the complete lineup:

  • “Lester Kannon” by Graham Walsh
  • “Project Z-6463” by Chris Eller & Sophia Parkinson
  • “TTWB”
  • “Petie Stewart, Manny Pacquiao’s Biggest Fan” by Duane Busick
  • “Black & White” by Sahar Pastel-Daneshgar & Emily Erotas
  • “Fertility 2.0” by David Ross
  • “Dance of Souls” by Caz Tanner
  • “Two Crowded” by Peter Johnson
  • “Lorelei” by M.C. Madrigal & Ryan Miyake
  • “A Song for the Undertaker” by Josh Tuthill
  • “The Single Mother” by Jesse Lacy
  • “The Woods” by Austin Gardener
  • “Gloom” by Jackson Van Meter & Ryan Smythe
  • “The Keeper” by Mark Johnson
  • “Reflection” by Kevin McClatchey
  • “DADT: A Film from America” by Kaleb Basey
  • “Imprints” by Javier Ramirez & Maggie Rossman
  • “Food Fight” by Laura Caldie


Have you heard the Stephen Colbert interview with Maurice Sendak yet? Click on their photos for the link and enjoy.

Sorry kids, I can’t embed the vid — you know, copyright issues and all. Trust me, though, it’s worth the extra step.

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