Category Archives: Monkees

Hot Air

Hah Times

You know, it’s the little things that give me a kick sometimes.

Yesterday, for instance, a customer came in to the Book Corner and bought a pile of tomes. When I swiped her credit card, I noticed that her initials were H.A.H. Naturally, I had to tell her, “I know you know this already but I just have to say it: Your initials spell out HAH.”

“Oh, I know it,” she said. Rather than give me the stink eye, she seemed rather proud of the fact. So I pushed the envelope a tad more.

“You know what you should do,” I said, “you should sign every card, letter, and memo only with your initials. ‘Get this report back to me by 5:00pm. HAH.'”

And, again, she didn’t roll her eyes. In fact, she said, “You’re right. I have to start doing that!”

So now there may be an office somewhere in which the mood is lightened a tiny bit every time HAH sends out a memo. They’ll owe it all to me.

Another thing: Before this woman left, she noticed the new Tom Robbins fantasy-memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie, is out. Robbins, author of psychedelic fever-dream novels such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Another Roadside Attraction, and Jitterbug Perfume, has been a rock star in the publishing world for more than four decades. He’s hung out with the Indian mystic Osho, Timothy Leary, Joseph Campbell, and Gus Van Sant. Natch, he’s done LSD (with Leary, no less.) His legion of literary fans is devoted, if not borderline cultish.

Book Cover

As soon as Tibetan Peach Pie caught her eye, HAH began leaping up and down like a teenager at a JimiHendrix/Monkees concert (bet you didn’t know Hendrix opened for the Monkees on their 1967 tour.) HAH shrieked and bent over at the waist. She clenched her fists to her mouth. Then she shrieked some more. “Oh,” she said — needlessly, I might add, “I lo-o-o-ove Tom Robbins!” Mind you, HAH is 50 if she’s a day.

She bought the book. I hope she likes it. I hope she comes back, too. We need more such lovers of the literary arts in this world.

The New Guy & The Schmalz Bear

Speaking of the Book Corner, the new executive director of the Monroe County History Center, David Vanderstel, dropped by with his wife Sheryl yesterday. The couple’s still living in Indianapolis, from which the MCHC plucked him to run its ops. Vanderstel had been professing history for 30 years, primarily early 19th Century stuff, at IUPUI. Beginning in March, he gave up grading papers for collecting the arcana of our rectangular plot of the Hoosier state.

Monroe County, Indiana

Our Fair County

The Vanderstels have been moving, bit by bit, to these environs and expect to be settled in by July 15th. David’s been commuting daily, meaning his hot rod has prob. been rattled down to a frame with four wheels and an engine at this point.

It turns out Sheryl Vanderstel has made her daily bread as a food historian while the old man lectured about Andrew Jackson et al. Food historian, huh? Seems to me a dream gig. She did leave me with this tip: Don’t use any of the later editions of the kitchen standard, Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. Sheryl V. sez the new versions issued in 1997 and later simply don’t stand up to the original. In fact, the New York Times has characterized the edition published 17 years ago as “the New Coke of cookbooks.”

BTW: Did you know Rombauer published the first Joy back in 1930 as a way to keep her own head above water after her husband had killed himself? Life gives you lemons, you make…, well, you know.

Anyway, y’oughta drop in to the History Center to see the nine-foot-tall Schmalz bear, if nothing else. The proprietor of the long-gone legendary, eponymous Bloomington sporting goods store, Roy Schmalz, had fancied himself an outdoorsman ala Teddy Roosevelt. As such, he hunted large N. American mammals, including elk and the aforementioned towering Kodiak bear. He had the poor critters stuffed and put on display on the main floor of his store. I imagine many unfortunate Bloomington tots of an earlier era shriveled in horror the first time they saw Schmalz’s dead beasts as their dads dragged them to the Coleman lantern aisle.

Schmalz Bear

Photo: David Snodgrass/Herald Times

Schmaltz & Gray Matter

Sticking with one of the last remaining independent booksellers between Indianapolis and the Ohio River (there is the Village Lights book shop  in Madison, Indiana, in addition to the Book Corner), Bloom mag boss Malcolm Abrams paid a visit yesterday afternoon. He’s busy drumming up advertisers for his special Distinctively Bloomington guidebook, due out later this summer. It’ll feature the people, the shops, and the cultural attractions that define this bursting metrop. Abrams hopes to get it into every hotel room in the city. It’ll be an indispensable resource not only for visitors but long time residents as well.

He and I both felt expansive and commenced comparing physical ailments, as men of a certain age are wont to do. I won’t reveal Abrams’ maladies even though HIPAA regs don’t apply to gossipy bloggers but I will report that I learned he ate chicken fat sandwiches as a young lad. I didn’t have the stomach to tell him my mother used to saute calf’s brains in olive oil. I ventured to taste a forkful once; it was my last. My mother shrugged and gobbled the rest of the bovine cerebra. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” she said between forksful.

Schmaltz/Brains

Chicken Fat For Spreading (l) & Calf’s Brains

“Oh yes I do,” I replied, shuddering.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you.

“And our governments are very much the same.” — Marjane Satrapi

THE RIGHT CHOICE

WFHB moves glacially when it comes to hiring people. Sheez, it took the board six months to figure out Chad Carrothers was the person for the job of General Manager, even as he was whipping the station into shape operationally and financially as the Acting Boss.

So, the two-month wait to give the News Director position to Alycin Bektesh doesn’t seem so, well, endless.

Bektesh & Pal

Yep, the former Assistant News Director/Acting News Director now gets to print up permanent business cards and I can’t think of a more deserving soul in the industry.

I wrote the news with Bektesh when she first joined the station as a volunteer a year ago. I thought I was the hottest pepper in the salad until she sat next to me. Alycin was aggressive, confident, knowledgeable, and damned good.

Perhaps most amazing of all was her ability to endure my incessant chatter and ribbing. Not only that, she gave it all back and then some.

Look out Chicago and New York. This chick’ll be nosing around Bloomington only for a precious short time.

INNER BEAUTY?

Correct me if I’m wrong but is this not the year 2012?

The IDS reports this morning that an Indiana University junior named Brianna McClellan was tabbed Miss IU Saturday night.

The campus pageant is one of the stepping stones to the Miss Indiana and Miss America contests.

Miss America?

Miss America: A Crowning Intellectual And Public Service Achievement

I mean, there are a lot of dumbass things going on in this holy land — the Republican primary reality show for one — but I had no idea we still had beauty pageants.

Oh, the participants in these things caution us not to call them beauty pageants anymore. Heavens no.

If not, then why can’t I compete in them?

I’ll tell you why: The sight of me in an evening gown would sour the audience on life permanently.

Anyway, last year’s Miss Indiana University, Jaclyn Fenwick, turned over her tiara, sash, bouquet of flowers, riding crop, and velvet handcuffs to Brianna, at which point the new Miss IU held her hand to her cheek in shock, which, if I’m not mistaken, is a gesture mandated by law in such cases.

McClellan, Shocked (photo by Kirsten Clark/IDS)

Fenwick told the IDS that the Miss America thing is important because it provides scholarships to young women.

McClellan said, “I just want it to be known that it’s not a pageant. It’s not a thing about beauty…. It’s the inner beauty and scholarship.”

McClellan added that it’s really volunteerism and community service that count most in the competition.

I suppose it’s only a coincidence that McClellan and Fenwick and the runners up all possess extraordinary conventional physical attributes.

I’ll believe McClellan’s and Fenwick’s unsolicited protestations the day a 250-pound woman who wears horn-rimmed glasses and who volunteers at the Hoosier Hills Food Bank or Boxcar Books wins the title.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This feature has been absent in recent weeks mainly because FB-ers have been unimaginative.

They sure made up for lost time last night and this morning.

So let’s see what the social media’s brightest minds are up to — and remember, this is a no spamily, no brattle zone.

Rich Lloyd, professor of complicated stuff at Vanderbilt University, read an op/ed piece in the New York Times that’s relevant to the above discussion on beauty pageants.

The author of the piece, historian Stephanie Coontz, points out that women today earn nearly 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, leading some observers to wonder if they’ll have a hard time finding husbands.

After all, men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses, right?

Wrong, Coontz says. That’s old hat. Read the piece and find out why.

◗ Radical lawyer Jerry Boyle, whose hands are going to be filled when the G-8 and NATO big boys visit Chicago this spring, found the fabulous quote that appears at the top of this page. It’s from graphic novel author Marjane Satrapi.

I can’t stress enough how cool Satrapi is. Her breakthrough work was the double-volume “Persepolis” saga, detailing her upbringing in Iran in the 1970s and ’80s. She personally witnessed two sets of iron hands — those of both the shah and the ayatollahs’ theocracy — squeeze the life out of that nation.

Satrapi suspects that the Iranians and Americans have a lot more in common than we’d care to admit.

Rainbo Club big shot Ken Ellis reminds us that today is Peter Tork‘s birthday.

If you have to ask who Peter Tork is, you’ll never understand.

◗ And Bloomington’s own Betty Greenwell features a pic of the best Valentine’s Day treat yet on her FB home page.

ALISON

Okay, the spelling’s wrong and the lyrics have nothing to do with her, but this song is for Alycin Bektesh. And you, reader.

 

 

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” — George Carlin

LOOK OUT, KATY PERRY

Bloomington chanteuse Krista Detor’s star is getting bigger by the day. Not only is she the subject of a breathless profile in the current issue of Bloom magazine, but tix to her shows are almost as hot as Indy Super Bowl ducats.

She wandered into the Book Corner yesterday, looking for last minute gifts. She told this nosy bookseller/correspondent that her holiday show last week at the Bloomington Convention Center was the biggest yet.

Krista’s 6th annual benefit blast, “Once Upon a Time,” packed the center’s Great Room a week ago tomorrow.

Better grab your chance to see her soon before she starts filling up those big arenas around the Midwest — or even the entire nation!

Krista! Krista! Krista!

SECRETS, SECRETS, AND MORE SECRETS

Many of my leftie pals have been screaming to high heaven about the US government’s alleged propensity these days to engage in undercover hijinks, manipulation of information, and generally act like the USSR-lite.

The Obama Administration — and the Bush Gang before it — claims it must keep the citizenry safe from all manner of mayhem.

Here’s a development from NPR‘s Nell Greenfieldboyce. The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is urging the feds not to release the findings of government-funded research into bird flu mutation to the public. Their rationale — bioterrorists might take the info and create a virulent strain of the virus to unleash on target cities.

Terrorist?

Usually, federally-funded research is promptly released to scientific journals and even to the mainstream media. The normal follow-up to the time-honored scientific method is to publish findings so other scientists can test and, if needed, poke holes in a new theory. This last step, the Board is saying, is a little too risky in this case.

One aspect of the lab work has been to fiddle with the virus’ genes. Scientists already have developed a strain that is far more contagious than the original.

So, it’s the right to know versus a crippling bio-attack.

Don’t know what my suspicious pals are going to say about this one.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

This is America, some 300 years after the Age of Enlightenment began.

A 17-year-old California boy was sentenced this week to 21 years in prison for assassinating in cold blood a high school classmate who was gay.

Judge, Jury, And Executioner

A young boy in Washington battled a flesh-eating bacterium in 2006. Doctors expected him to die. He didn’t. Relatives had placed a relic of some Mohawk woman at his bedside. Now Pope Benedict XVI says the whole thing was a “miracle” and will declare the woman a saint next year.

Kids: “You Got A Spare Miracle For Us?”

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is a flamboyant Christian. He kneels and prays every chance he gets on the football field. His team has won a bunch of games. Some fans argue that the creator of the Universe is interceding on his behalf.

God: “Nah. I’m Busy With This Football Game.”

A little baby has been missing in Kansas City since October 4. A Dallas psychic has claimed to have had a vision of where the kid is buried. A party of volunteers actually went searching for her in the area where the psychic said she was. The kid, natch, wasn’t there.

The Renowned Crime Investigator

And, of course, the old standby: 72 percent of Americans believe in angels while only 45 percent believe in the theory of evolution.

Sigh.

I’M A BELIEVER

Yep, the Monkees.

BTW: For all the rage surrounding Davy Jones back in the ’60s, he sure looks dorky trying to keep time to the beat, doesn’t he? And did you notice he’s a monobrow? And his face is shiny?

Oh, alright, I’m still envious of him.

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