Category Archives: Michael Koryta

Hot Air

What To Do? What To Do?

Lots going on around town these days, as always in the fall. Here are a few things you oughtta do:

Bloom Magazine Book Club — This issue’s selection is Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. The Book Corner has tons o’copies and they’re 20 percent off for book club folk. All ya gotta do is say, “I’m getting this for the book club.” How much simpler can we make it? Bloom honcho Malcolm Abrams has set up Indiana University English prof. emeritus Don Gray to talk about the controversial novel, Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 5:30pm, at Topo’s 403 Restaurant, 403 N. Walnut St.


Alabama’s Nelle Harper Lee

Just in case you were wondering, there’s no club member card and you don’t have to pass through any kind of initiation. Just read the book and come listen to Don Gray talk about it. He’ll take Qs from the crowd, too.

Send Shelli Yoder to Congress — Currently a member of the Monroe County Council, Yoder jumped late into the Democratic primary for Indiana’s 9th US Congress District in 2012. In a shocker, she clobbered Bob Winningham and Gen. Jonathan George, who’d been certain he was the anointed party candidate. (BTW, loyal Pencillista Col. John Tilford also ran in that primary. Yoder kicked the bejesus out of him as well.) Yoder went on that fall to get walloped herself by incumbent Todd Young, losing 55-45 percent. She was then selected by party caucus to fill the term of departing county council member Vic Kelson. She ran for reelection in 2014 and easily retained her seat. Now that Todd Young is gunning for the US Senate, Yoder’s jumping back into the congressional fray. The Friends of Shelli Yoder is throwing a fundraising bash at the Fountain Square Ballroom, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, from 5:30-7:30pm. All the local party big shots’ll be there. I’ll be there with on the spot coverage should any of our Dems trip over the carpeting.


Indiana’s Shelli Renee Yoder (L)

Monroe County Book Fair — This year’s annual tome orgy benefits the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. The Book Corner will be there Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, 10am-1pm, with New York Times bestselling author Michael Koryta, signing his latest, Last Words. Koryta mixes crime, suspense, mystery and throws in a dash of woo in his compelling volumes. A percentage of the Book Corner’s proceeds will go to the Food Bank. This is the first year the Book Fair benefits HHFB. The fair runs Oct. 8-13 at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. I’ll be there peddling Koryta’s books.


Florida & Indiana’s Michael Koryta

Do any or all of these things and you’ll surely earn your Pencillista stripes.

Hot Air


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.



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.


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.


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

Book ‘Em

Like any impresario, Malcolm Abrams was nervous. He was hoping to put on a big show Monday night and he worried he’d have an empty house.

Abrams created the Bloom Magazine Book Club a couple of months ago and tabbed Those Who Wish Me Dead its first selection. Written by native son Michael Koryta, Those... is yet another booming bestseller from the keyboard of the crime/fantasy author. Still, Abrams wondered if anybody’d show up at Oliver Winery on the Square for the first meeting of the club.

Sure, Koryta was scheduled to read from his book and the young, smart, good-looking scribe ought to have been a draw. But Abrams knows there are no guarantees in any business. “I hope people show up,” he said to me last week.

Oh, people showed up. The first gathering of the BMBC packed the house. Abrams told me yesterday he and his staff had to keep on adding chairs for late arrivals until the crowd nearly squeezed Koryta off the stage. And Bloomington, natch, loved him.

“He only read for about ten minutes,” Abrams said. “The rest of the time was all questions and answers. He was very gracious. Everybody had a good time.”

Abrams can relax now.

The next selection of the Bloom Magazine Book Club is Scott Russell Sanders‘ latest book, Divine Animal. A woman bounded into the Book Corner around noon yesterday and announced, breathlessly, that she’d been at the Koryta show the night before. “It was fabulous,” she said. She wanted to get her hands on the Sanders novel before we sold out. Turns out her instincts were correct; she got the last copy we had.


Scott Russell Sanders (Union University photo)

I put in an urgent message to Sanders, begging him to please, please, please get us as many copies of Divine… as he could. Next thing I knew — well, about an hour later — here came Scott Russell Sanders lugging a case of books in on his shoulder. And every one of those copies is signed.

The next meeting of the BMBC is Tuesday, March 31st, 5:30pm, at the Root Cellar Lounge of FARM Bloomington. You’d better get there early unless you want to be sitting with Sanders on stage.

Decisions, Decisions

Talked to one B-ton citizen the other day who says s/he’s going for Darryl Neher.


“It’s a gut thing,” this person says. Apparently, Neher’s opponent, John Hamilton, had phoned this person and asked for her/his endorsement. The person told him s/he hadn’t made a choice yet. Hamilton, acc’d’g to this citizen, then said, “Whatever you do, don’t make an endorsement before calling me. Call me first! Talk to me before you do anything.”

Hamilton’s tone was so insistent, this person says, that s/he was put off him. “I don’t want a used car salesman, using high pressure tactics on me,” s/he says.


Go Ahead, Take It For A Spin

Hmm. It’s funny; John Hamilton usually seems like such a mild-mannered fellow. Then again, people around town whisper in my ear that the person’s story is quite in keeping with what they know about the second-time aspirant for the Dem mayoral nomination. The question: Is this trait a good or bad thing?

That said, there’s still not a hair’s difference between Neher and Hamilton when it comes to their stances on social issues.

Another Bloomington observer tells me whoever wins the Democratic primary (and, therefore, the general election) will bring refreshing new work habits to the City Hall mayor’s office. “At least,” this other person says, “he’ll show up occasionally.”

I’m already scheduled to sit in on a Neher house party, which I’ll report on. I’m still trying to weasel my way into a Hamilton soiree. Stay tuned.

The Rules Of The Game

The national title won by Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League All-Stars has been vacated. Jackie Robinson West copped the flag in 2014 in a memorable lead up the the international Little League World Series. The team’s story was tailor-made for a movie script.

JRW was the first all-black team to win the American title. It was the story of kids who’d grown up in hard-scrabble neighborhoods achieving a rare triumph and glory. Denzel Washington surely would have played some role in any potential film about that dream season.


Fans Cheer At A JRW Watch Party In August, 2014

But one of the team’s local rivals, the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, was led by a man who watched JRW advance through the tournament and seethed. Acc’d’g to this fellow, Chris Janes, JRW was using players from outside its precisely drawn eligibility boundaries. He screeched about it to the sport’s governing body, Little League International. Officials there at first waved him off, buying JRW’s assertions that kids had what seemed to be addresses in violation of eligibility requirements due to divorce and other family fractures.

Janes kept the pressure on until yesterday when the LLI finally relented and stripped the team of its title. And so “justice” has been done.

I can’t express my displeasure any clearer than my pal, the crusading attorney Jerry Boyle, has stated his:

It’s like everything else in this society. When they finally get their turn, all of a sudden the rules are strictly enforced.


Hot Air

Read Koryta

I wonder how many people in this town know about the Bloom magazine book club.

Yeah, it’s a thing. Here’s the deal: Bloom, being bi-monthly, will announce a new book choice each issue with a get-together of all participants approximately two months down the road. The current selection is Michael Koryta‘s Those Who Wish Me Dead.

Book Cover

Koryta, of course, is the local big-time novelist whose mysteries and suspenses have flitted onto the New York Times bestseller list now and again. He hangs out with bestselling author Michael Connelly and has garnered kudos from the likes of Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, and George Pellicanos. Here’s Koryta’s bibliography:

  • Tonight I Said Goodbye (he was 21 when this came out)
  • Sorrow’s Anthem
  • A Welcome Grave
  • Envy the Night
  • The Silent Hour
  • So Cold the River 
  • The Cypress House (optioned for film with Chris Columbus as screenwriter)
  • The Ridge
  • The Prophet
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead

Believe it or not, Koryta worked a bit as a private dick, interning with a licensed snoop a few years back. That’s how serious he is about his art. He began dreaming of becoming a novelist when he was 8 years old. He narrowed his ambition at 16 when he decided he’d write about crime. He sent a fan letter to Connelly, who later became his neighbor and pal. (Koryta also keeps a home in St. Petersburg, Florida.) Even after he became an honest-to-gosh author, he studied in a writing workshop run by Lehane down in Florida. He eventually worked his way up to teaching classes for Lehane.


Serious Man

By and by, Koryta branched off on a sort of supernatural tangent in his books. The detour’s success has been mixed at best: acc’d’g to services that measure such things, two of his paranormal books, Envy the Night and Silent Hour couldn’t even crack five figures in sales combined. No matter. “He’s a courageous writer,” Connelly told Wall Street Journal reporter Lauren Mechling for a 2010 profile on Koryta. Koryta insisted on trying his hand at ghostly stuff. “He was having a growing reputation and charting an upward trajectory [yet] he chose to take this risk,” Connelly said.

Koryta eventually became good enough in the woo racket to earn an initial press run of 35,000 for So Cold the River.

Thus far, five of Koryta books are in development for TV and/or film production and three of them have been tabbed among New York Times notable books of the year.

The first meeting of the Bloom mag book club will be Monday, February 9, 5:30pm, at Oliver Winery on the west side of Courthouse Square. That means you have two weeks to cop Those… and gobble it up.

Get reading.

Loan Sharking

The Herald Times reports this morning (paywall) that Mayor Mark Kruzan has some $32,000 in his campaign war chest and he’s not even running in this year’s beauty pageant.


Neher: Hat In Hand?

Betcha Darryl Neher’s pleased the mayor has endorsed him for the Democratic primary in May. “Say Boss,” Neher’s bound to whisper one of these days, “can you spare a grand or two? Y’know, just for expenses?”

Meanwhile, John Hamilton and Dawn Johnsen have been hosted powwows at their home, putting up coffee and tea for supporters and listening to them talk about local issues. And make no mistake: the power couple looked under the sofa cushions for spare change after the get-togethers as well.


Bloomington’s Future First Couple?

Just wondering, will we ever see the day when election campaigns will be completely publicly financed? In fact, the feds first started pretending in 1971 that the body politic could foot the bill for those running for Prez. You know, the Q at the top of your annual tax form that asks, “Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?

Let’s see, that was 44 years ago. Y’think my yearly three bucks counterbalances the hundreds of millions the likes of Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Boys pitch at the candidates?

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