Category Archives: Paul Giamatti

Frigid Air

Random Thoughts

So, where’s  all that snow we were s’pposed to get?

Hey, not that I’m complaining. Loyal readers know all about my feelings for winter.

Anyway, the Book Corner is closed today, so stay home and read whatchyu got.

The electricity at Chez Big Mike and the world headquarters of this communications colossus went out for only a second or two last night. Nevertheless, The Loved One and I loaded up our pockets with flashlights and transistor radios and started thinking about calling around for hotels that accept pets.

Which reminds me, our palatial estate is now the new home of Sally the Dog.



I’d been seeing her loitering around the back yard for a few days a couple of weeks ago and then, one day when The Loved One was out with Steve the Dog, she came up to them. Natch, T-Lo couldn’t resist her so she leashed her. T-Lo lugged her over to the Bloomington Animal Shelter where the dog was checked for disease and to make sure she wasn’t affiliated with al Qaeda. We were then designated as her “Angels” so that, after a week or so if nobody claimed her, we’d get first dibs. And we did.

When we got her home, she and Steve the Dog had to do a little negotiating over who’s who and what’s what, but no blood was drawn. She seems mostly thankful that she doesn’t have to sleep outside in the deep freeze.

The cats, Terra & Kofi, did their obligatory sniffing around and deemed her innocuous so they have given her the official feline imprimatur: They ignore her.

Only problem is she’s not versed in the manners and mores of ridding her bony little body of waste. And, being a pup, she is still pretty much a poo machine. So there’s the matter of picking up unexploded bombs twice a day and telling her in no uncertain terms that this just won’t do. She just looks at us with sad eyes. It’s going to take a while before she catches on, I’m afraid.

The Loved One couldn’t be happier.

Woman Power

Speaking of T-Lo, we just finished watching the John Adams biopic mini-series on Netflix. You may recall, it was an HBO production that came out in 2008 and starred Paul Giamatti as J.A. and Laura Linney as Abigail A.

Scene from "John Adams"

Paul Giamatti as John Adams

It was good stuff, as long as you keep in mind that H-wood isn’t terribly interested in historical accuracy. Then again, most reviewers hold that the series held reasonably true to David McCullough’s eponymous biography, upon which the series was based.

Giamatti (the son of former baseball commissioner and president of Yale University, A. Bartlett Giamatti) is one of our finest actors and brought J.A. across as a courageous, thoughtful, progressive revolutionary, albeit one with thin skin and an occasionally self-defeating ego. Linney (who’s a dead ringer for the Laughing Planet manager, Michelle) is also a top-flight thesp.

Scene from "John Adams"

Laura Linney as Abigail Adams

The key subplot of the thing was how Abigail advised, pushed, scolded, cheered and, at times, plotted the course of her husband’s career (and, by extension, the future of the as yet unborn nation).

[Spoiler alert] The last scene of the 7-part series portrays J.A. & A.A. returning to their long-neglected homestead after the revolution victory to find it has been trashed and squatted in. J.A. has just been elected the second prez of the US, after hearing George Washington grumble that the job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Adams is wracked by tooth pain and seems beaten down by the events of the last couple of decades. He slumps in a chair in his old home and seems doomed never to have to get up out of it again.

Abigail, who is forever on the move, chides him. “Rise up, John. Rise up.” And he does. Fade to black.

At which point I commented: “So, she was the driver. She was the power behind the man.”

And you know what? T-Lo gave me a lecture.

She said: That’s what a man would say. She only had as much power as men would allow her. It’s always been like that. How powerful could she have been if she had real freedom? Things are still pretty much like that today. And, As long as women can only have as much power as men will give them, they aren’t powerful at all.

And you know what, again? T-Lo is right.

Invisible Men & Women

Ramiro Gomez has spent the last few years living among the fabulous, the beautiful, and the wealthy of Hollywood Hills. He makes his daily bread as a live-in nanny there.

Seeing the upper crust every day in its natural habitat, he realized that their privileged life is utterly dependent upon a population of intentionally unseen, ignored human beings, mostly Mexican immigrants, who make things go.

An artist, Gomez decided to add images of these invisibles to found photos of luxury. The ghostly maids, pool cleaners, and valet parkers in Gomez’s works remind us that although we are indeed a more equitable society than ever before, we’ve still got a hell of a long way to go.

Work by Ramiro Gomez

Work By Ramiro Gomez

Check out Gomez’s stuff here and here.

[h/t to Jerry Boyle.]

The Pencil Today:


“Am I really cool? You’re telling me I’m cool? Well, that’s good to hear.” — Paul Giamatti


How cool do you want to be? Cool as me?

Then check out the Friday Night Sound Clash on Louisville’s WFPK-FM Friday nights from 8-11pm.

Matt Anthony

Show host Matt Anthony is the smoothest, hippest white man this side of the International Date Line. Last night at about 10 o’clock, for instance, he segued from Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” to “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five. He mixes in jazz, Afro-Cuban, Chaka Kahn, Beck, Amy Winehouse, dance, trance, chill, funk, ska, the original Parliament, Fela Kuti, Mos Def, and dub step. And he won’t stop there.

I listen every Friday night after Steve the Dog and I take our walk around the boat docks at Paynetown SRA on Lake Monroe.

Steve doesn’t know what a lucky dog he is to be able to hang out with a cool cat like me.

I’m So Cool I’m Blue


Speaking of cool, have you heard about the spectacular ice ball that’s hurtling our way through the Solar System yet?

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is so out there it doesn’t even have a Christian name. Or a Jewish one, for that matter, ala Shoemaker-Levy. It was discovered a week ago last night by a couple of Russkie spies who claim to be astronomers. Yeah, sure.

The Dot In Question, At The Cross Hairs

Anyway, the two, Artyom Novichonok and Vitaly Nevski, spotted a miniscule dot on some digital images of an area inside the constellation Cancer. They were using a monster telescope that, presumably, can see you inside your bedroom right now, so stop doing that.

The dot, informally dubbed Comet ISON, is too tiny to be seen by the naked eye as yet, considering it’s more than 600 million freaking miles away from Bloomington as we speak.

But by the time of its nearest pass to the Sun in November 2013, it may be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight — no lie! — and at night might be as bright as the full moon.

Passe, Next Year

It’ll be porn for astro-geeks like me. You’ll get a kick out of it, too, I’m sure.


Husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends of artists have to be remarkable souls.

My mother would say there should be a special place in heaven for them.

That’s because living with a creative sprite can be a special hell.

Think Picasso, Van Gogh, Amy Winehouse, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Robert Mapplethorpe, or Marilyn Monroe. Those who befriended them, slept with them, or paid the rent once or a million times for them and didn’t murder them have to be saints.

Robert Mapplethorpe Had Patti Smith

The drama, the poverty, the ego, and, in the case of many rock stars, the bad hair, or, in the case of painters, the incessant odor of linseed oil, might drive the sanest person bats.

Think Jackson Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner.

The Kinsey Institute Gallery opened a new exhibit last night dedicated to those selfless few who stayed with their photographer spouses and loves through thin and thin. Called “A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners,” the exhibit features images documenting the lives of partners of photographers from the US, China, Brazil, and Japan.

Photographer Yuhki Touyama’s Mate

Check it out, especially if you’ve been aggravated by your mate of late. He might only let his toenails grow too long; Jackson Pollock, drunk, drove a car into a grove of trees with his young mistress next to him while Lee Krasner waited for him at home.

The exhibit runs through December 20th.


The Electron Pencil, of course, is the finest and most sublime utilization of the interwebs since the gossip site dlisted came on the scene nearly eight years ago.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other sites you can click on now and again.

Check out Rawrahs, a political blog written by a midnight surfer from Forest Park, Illinois. This fellow, whom we’ll call, oh, let’s say Rushdie, was one of the first people I ever knew who got much of his info from the Net. He was online when the prevailing forums were bulletin boards and newsgroups.

In other words, Rushdie was wired as far back as the 1910s. He and Marconi were thick as thieves.

Rushdie’s serious. He doesn’t go for the easy joke (like some people we know.) And he’s got a personal stake in the unionization of public employees.

Go ahead — visit Rawrahs. You have my permission.


The irreducible Hondo Thompson is grappling these days with a disturbing question.

He asks, “Why can’t we just tell some folks they simply aren’t qualified to participate in this conversation, this government process, this debate, this election? Must every voice really be heard?”

He illustrates his quandary with this clipping from the Letters to the Editor section of some Australian podunk newspaper:

Yeah, that’s right, the letter writer actually suggests the extra hour of sunlight brought on by Daylight Savings Time might be causing drought. He urges Australia’s CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) to look into the matter.

Need I explain why this is as mad as the notion that Sharia Law is gaining a foothold in this holy land? Maybe madder. Wait, nah.

Anyway, Hondo’s query, although attractive in a perverse way, smacks a tad of elitism, even fascism. Yet each and every one of us has wondered the same thing at one time or another.

Ambient 1, 1/1

Brian Eno‘s breathtaking, hypnotizing, groundbreaking first foray into environmental sound. Perfect for a Sunday morning. Try it yourself, you’ll see.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

FOOD ◗ City Hall, Showers PlazaFarmers Market; 8am-1pm

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

CONFERENCE ◗ IU Memorial Union, Walnut Room — “Where’s the ‘World’ in Popular Music?” Interdisciplinary presented by the Colloege of Liberal Arts & Sciences, click link for schedule of events, free and open to the public; 9:30am-4:30pm

SEMINAR ◗ Various venuesThe Combine, 3rd annual display of talent , innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit, featuring speakers, workshops, idea pitches, and mixers; through Sunday, September 30th, today’s events:

Buskirk Chumley TheaterMain Stage Speaking Event, a full day of speakers; 9am

The Atlas Bar, 209 S. College Ave. Open Gaming, presented by Studio Cypher; 6:30pm

The Atlas Bar, 209 S. College Ave.Official Unofficial After Party; 9pm

NATURE ◗ Jackson Creek TrailExploring Jackson Creek Trail, guided hike, observe wildlife; 10am-noon

WORKSHOP ◗ Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center — Mind Training Through Pain & Disability Series, Presented by Ani Choekye; 10:30am-noon

NATURE ◗ WonderLabBirds of Prey: A Live Raptor Show, 11am

OKTOBERFEST ◗ Upland Brewing Company, Bloomington Brew PubBeer, food, live music; 11am Saturday-1am Sunday

NATURE ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRAHarvest Moon Weekend, Family friendly camping weekend, campfire, crafts, & programs; 1pm Saturday-5pm Sunday

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “When the Rain Stops Falling;” 2pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“Petulia,” Directed by Richard Lester; 3pm

MUSIC & WINE ◗ Owen Valley WineryMusic in the Garden: Foster Jones; 5-8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Meet the Fokkens“; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU GymnasiumHoosier volleyball vs. Northwestern; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashvilledw Brykalski; 7-9pm

HALLOWEEN FUN ◗ Haunted Hayride & Stables, 8308 S. Rockport Rd.; 7pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema“The Search”; 3pm

STAGE ◗ IU Halls TheatreDrama, “When the Rain Stops Falling;” 7:30pm

STAGE ◗ Bloomington Playwrights ProjectComedy, “RX,” by Kate Fodor; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheatreRyder Film Series: “Neighboring Sounds“; 8pm

BALLET ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Light and Shade,” Presented by IU Ballet Theater; 8pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Behrendt; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubRitmos Unidos; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceRoom of Voices; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoSam Hoffman Quartet; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceWildflower Union, R-Juna, Honors, The Gentle Shades; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeThe BloomingTones Big Band; 8-10pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “Katy Perry: Part of Me;” 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts Theater Ryder Film Series: “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present“; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdChase Rice, Corey Cox; 9pm

MUSIC & DANCING ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington70s Disco Party, Meow Disco; 10pm

COMEDY ◗ The Comedy AtticGreg Behrendt; 10:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “Katy Perry: Part of Me;” 11pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

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