Category Archives: Rachael’s Cafe

Hot Air

The Immaculate Fix

Get ready for another reading of William S. Burrough’s The Junky’s Christmas.

Burroughs

Burroughs

It’s become a holiday tradition in these parts, thanks to the combined efforts of The Burroughs Century and the Writers Guild at Bloomington. B-town scribes Tony Brewer, Arthur Cullipher, Ian Uriel Girdley, and Shayne Laughter will perform the piece in a live radio theater performance Wednesday, December 17th, 8:00pm, at Rachael’s Cafe. Trumpeter Kyle Quass and saxophonist Chris Rall will back them up.

Ian Girdley also will read from his new book, This poem Drank the Wine (sic).

Burroughs’ seasonal moral: Not all gifts are sugarplums and good can arise in the absolutely unlikeliest of places.

Whee, Me!

Malcolm Abrams and David Brent Johnson are the perpetrators of this:

From Bloom Magazine

Click on the image for the full story. Perhaps my fave part of the above is the exclamation point after my name. You’d think that would be more appropriate for a profile of, say, Vladimir Putin or Taylor Swift.

What’s the opposite of an exclamation point? An upside down exclamation point? Nah, Spanish already has claimed that. I dunno. Anyway, read.

Start The Presses!

Ledge Mule Press has issued its second book, Then Gone by Romayne Rubinas. With two tomes on its résumé, the Press can now be considered the real deal.

Book Cover

Hand-Printed & Hand-Bound

Poets, writers, and all-around Hoosier sophisticates Ross Gay, Chris Mattingly, and Dave Torneo run Ledge Mule. Then Gone was produced on a hand-fed Chandler & Price letterpress machine and was hand-bound by the three. The trio opted to produce only 200 copies of the book so it just may become a priceless collectors item one day.

Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait for the deaths of the principals involved before the thing pays off.

Ledge Mule’s first offering was a collection by poet David Watters entitled Hollow & Round. It came out earlier this year.

Catch Romayne reading her poems at The Back Door, Saturday, December 6th, at 7pm. She’ll appear with poets Kate Schneider and Shaina Clerget.

Queerball

How cool is this? American major pro sports’ first on-field/court/ice arbiter has come out. Major League Baseball umpire Dale Scott has been calling balls and strikes in the Big Show for some 29 years and just this month revealed publicly he’s gay. Scott’s been involved with a fellow named Mike Rausch since the year after he broke into MLB. Scott and Rausch got married last month.

Scott/Rausch

Scott (L) & Rausch

Even cooler, MLB big shots have known Scott was gay for years now. “…[T]his is not a surprise to Major League Baseball, the people I work for,” Scott told Outsports online yesterday. “It’s not a surprise to the umpire staff. Until Mike and I got married last November, he was my same-sex domestic partner and had his own MLB I.D. and was on my insurance policy.”

Yet another reason for me to love baseball.

You Want A Hero? Here.

There was a time in the deep murky mists of memory when the people of this holy land actually did good things just to, well, do good things.

For instance, in 1948 after the Soviet Union had imposed a blockade around the city of West Berlin, a US Army Air Corps pilot named nicknamed Hal regularly flew a C-54 transport plane (like the one pictured below) into Tempelhof Airport. His usual cargo — 10 tens of flour. Berliners, America had realized, needed to eat. Under the direction of General George C. Marshall, the Berlin airlift, known as Operation Vittles, flew thousands of tons of food into West Berlin.

Berlin Airlift

A Berlin Airlift Plane Landing At Tempelhof

Earlier that year, Hal had met a bunch of kids who watched as the stream of transport planes flew into Templehof. They’d asked him for some candy. All he had were a couple of sticks of gum. He tore those sticks in half and handed the four pieces to the kids who proceeded to tear off bits of the wrappers and pass the scraps around. The kids, having experienced the deprivations and horrors of war and occupation, simply sniffed the bits of wrapper. The looks of sheer glee and gratitude on their faces, Hal later said, were unlike any he’d ever seen.

So he started recruited his own crew members and, eventually, crews of other planes in his unit to donate their rations of candy and gum. The crews would makes little packages of the sweets and attach them to parachutes made of their handkerchiefs and, as they flew over the gang of kids, would drop the treats. It soon was raining candy at Tempelhof.

After a time, Hal had gotten scads of private citizens and candy manufacturers to donate some 21 tons of candy for his makeshift operation. The kids took to calling him the Candy Bomber.

Nobody splashed candy makers’ names all over those transport planes. No individuals screamed out to the world what fabulous souls they were for dumping tons of candy into waiting kids’ hands. They simply wanted to bring joy to the kids. Simultaneously, they were feeding a city of 2.5 million people.

Here’s your hero.

Halvorsen

Gail “Hal” Halvorsen In 1989

Thanks to Pencillista Col. John Tilford (Ret., US Army) for sending in the link to the following vid. In it, Halvorsen is honored for his candy drop. Sure, it’s hokey, mucky and gushy, but if you’re not crying by the time you’re finished watching, you’re probably dead.

Believe it or not, even I can be corny now and again.

Hot Twangy Air

Kids, Seen & Heard

I’ve been playing around with the guitar for about four or five years now. I started taking serious lessons a year ago November.

As such, I consider myself nearly the equal of string pluckers like Andres Segovia and Les Paul. That is, when I’m serenading myself in the garage. Oddly, the Loved One, Steve the Dog, and Terra & Kofi the Cats all huddle in an opposite corner of the house, their respective hands and paws over their ears when I play. Don’t ask me why.

Segovia

Andres Segovia

Too, whenever I arrive early for a class with my guitar teacher, the redoubtable Sarah Flint, I sometimes spy her gulping handsful of Extra Strength Tylenol and stuffing cotton wads into her ears. Once I asked her why and she replied, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’m expecting a massive headache coming on within the next half hour.”

Funny thing: Once, a few minutes after our lesson was finished, I came back to her little studio on the square and found her weeping silently. I’m starting to worry about the poor thing.

Anyway, Sarah hipped me to a little recital she was sponsoring for three of her top young students. (I refrained, natch, from quizzing her as to why I wasn’t included in that elite group, but I let it slide). She was to put up three guitarists at Rachael’s Cafe last night so The Loved One and I plowed our way through the 73 feet of snow that has fallen on So Cen Ind in the last week and took it in.

I gotta tell you, we had a ball.

The kids, all under 15, clearly were superior to me. Which means they’ve left pretenders like Segovia and Paul in the dust.

Paul

Les Paul

First let me tell you about the guitar. It ain’t easy. Especially when, like me, you’ve been born with mitts that are better suited to digging ditches without a shovel. See, I’ve got fingers that reveal my mixed ethnic background; they look like so many salsicce and kielbasas.

Whenever I tell people my age that I’ve started taking guitar lessons, they always say it sounds like great fun. And, make no mistake, it is. No more so than when the heretofore dissonant piercing shrieks actually start sounding like music. But, man, it’s a lot of work.

You have to pick up the guitar every single day whether you want to or not. And you have to repeat drills and riffs until you never, ever want to hear them again. Sarah tells me it all has to do with something called muscle memory.

Stubborn old bastard that I am, I’m capable only now of such discipline. When I was, say, 13 years old, I would no more be able to practice PRN as I would walk across Lake Michigan.

Yet the three kids last night really have to have been punching away for regular long hours.

A young gal named Nidhi played a bunch of Green Day songs, some of which, when she announced them, drew gasps of excitement from her teeny-bopper coterie in the audience. She threw in odds and ends like a Lana Del Rey song. Her parents leaped to their feet to cheer when she finished her set.

Nidhi

Nidhi

The Loved One and I immediately agreed scenes like this really would have made parenthood fun had we decided to add to the population. After a beat, though, we also agreed that’d probably be pretty much the only reason to do so.

The next kid up was was an eighth-grader named Serena. She played a few ’90s and ‘aughts pop tunes and, believe it or not, actually did a listenable little version of “Goodnight, Irene.”

A force of nature named Joey finished up the program. He opened his set with “Build Me Up, Buttercup” and even did his interpretation of the original Ocean’s Eleven classic, “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?”

Serena/Joey

Serena Grins As Joey Strums

Joey’s a funny kid. I know him from the Book Corner where he comes in regularly to update me on his whirlwind life. The kid converses with me as if we’re equals, which is astounding. When I was 14, as he is now, I was scared to death of grown ups. I figured they’d hit me at any moment, or at least call the authorities to report me for the crime of being heard.

Ergo, the most common term in my vocabulary when forced to communicate with adults was the non-specific grunt.

Today, life’s different for young kids. In my day, not only were adults flamboyantly not interested in anything a teenaged kid had to say, our sparse accomplishments were spectacularly unimportant to them.

I recall playing Little League baseball in front of empty stands. No one’s parents came to see them play baseball when I was a kid. Parents were too busy earning a living and and cooking dinner. Not only that, we were certain, they couldn’t have cared less if we’d struck out five times that day or hit a home run every time at bat. We figured that’s the way it was supposed to be.

And before you haul out the violins for me and my generation, keep in mind that on those rare occasions when a parent would show up to watch one of our games — say a dad who was on vacation that week — we weren’t all that pleased. After all, we wouldn’t be able to drop F-bombs that day.

We understood that there was a kids’ world and an adults’ world. And god forbid the twain should meet. The only time adults broke the wall and came into our world was to grab us by the ear to drag us home because, say, report cards had been issued.

Now, it seems, parents and kids occupy the same world. That planet is alien and, quite frankly, disconcerting to me. Then again, Joey’s mom, for instance, had to wipe the tears from her eyes as her kiddo played his first song. And even when he made mistakes — missing a beat, say, or getting himself lost in the middle of a song — she’d flash him the thumbs-up sign and nod to let him know all would be well.

That kind of interplay warms my heart, especially when I recall the parents I’d known, the ones who’d snarl at their kids that we pay good goddamn money for those lessons and you’d better do what the teacher tells you and practice so you don’t make mistakes. To be followed by a clunk on the head, naturally.

Here’s a hoot: There were, actually, one or two sets of parents in my old neighborhood who were supportive and encouraging. Naturally, the rest of us, parents and kids, viewed them as dangerous oddballs.

Like I say, it’s a new world. I think I like this one better.

That’s all for today. Peace, love and soul.

[MG Note: Go ahead, give in to your dreams and start taking guitar lessons. You won’t find a better teacher than Sarah Flint. Contact her now.]

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose.” — Nelson Algren

BLOOMINGTON WARMING

Get over to Rachael’s Cafe tonight a 6:30 for another session of Bloomington’s Science Cafe.

Host Alex Straiker will introduce environmental physicist Ben Brabson. The topic: “Climate Change and Bloomington.”

Why?

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

My guy in Monroe County government says the newly refurbished digs in the old courthouse are fabulous.

He says the place actually smells new.

The Monroe County Courthouse, in case you missed it, has been closed since spring 2011 for a massive renovation. Workers replaced utility pipes, restrooms, carpeting, and much else. They painted the walls and installed a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. Sometime in the middle of the project, it was found that the 100-year-old main floor was in danger of collapsing. So the cost of a whole new floor had to be added on the the original $4 million pricetag. The Courthouse reopened yesterday.

I asked my guy if he jumped on the new floor to test it. Laughing, he says he just might organize his co-workers to gather in a spot and all jump simultaneously.

READY…, JUMP!

Which reminds me of that old trivia chestnut, What if all the people in China jumped at once?

Would we feel the bounce here on the other side of the Earth? Would the planet’s orbit be affected?

Boi-oi-oi-oi-oing!

My old colleague at the Chicago Reader, Cecil Adams, known far and wide for his spectacular knowledge of useless information, was asked this very question as far back as 1984.

China’s population at the time stood at a tad more than a billion (it’s up to 1.34B now). So Adams, who penned the Reader’s Straight Dope trivia column, imagined all the women, men, and snotty kids in China climbing up on chairs and leaping off at precisely the same moment. Then Cecil did some back of the envelope ciphering.

He concluded that the impact of those two billion feet on the surface of the world at once (give or take the few tens of millions of feet that had been amputated during wars and torture sessions) would produce an impact equivalent to that of the explosion of 500 tons of TNT.

Sheesh, I would have thought such an impact would result in more of a bump. Anyway, 500 tons of boom is not nearly enough to jar the planet off its year-long path.

So there.

Anyway, you ought to check out Cecil’s The Straight Dope column. You can learn, for instance, what Reichs 1 and 2 were (you know, the ones preceding Hitler’s Third Reich.)

OBAMA IS A POOR EXCUSE FOR A KING

This pic is making the rounds on the interwebs these days:

You know, because when we elected Obama King of the United States with absolute powers over everything, including the very prices of all consumer goods and services, we expected him to forbid this sort of thing from happening.

NOT FAT, NOT WHITE, DOESN’T SMOKE CIGARS

And speaking of the man who will hold on to the White House on November 6th, one of the Right’s biggest canards against him is that he’s a “typical Chicago politician.”

As in a fat, cigar-chomping, back-room-deal-making, vote-stealing, bribe-taking, in-bed-with-the-Mob, white man.

Historian Rick Perlstein points out in an essay in Chicago mag that the GOP strategy has been to link Obama with all those famous venal Windy City pols of the past. Notoriously corrupt Alderman Hinky Dink Kenna once famously observed, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.”

In truth, Obama has nothing at all in common with the likes of Jake Arvey, Richard J. Daley, Fast Eddie Vrdolyak, Bathhouse John  Coughlin, and Big Bill Thompson.

Perlstein writes: “Indeed, the president’s biggest problem, come the election on November 6, isn’t that he’s too Chicago. It’s that he’s not Chicago enough.”

He wrote the piece before the first debate last week, which only proves Perlstein’s point. I mean, honestly, would a tough-guy Chicago pol have let Mitt Romney get away with all that murder?

Rick Perlstein

When all is said and done, Obama represents the most impotent of the stereotypical liberal politician’s characteristics. He believes if he’s a mensch, everybody’s going to embrace him. Perlstein writes: “Obama seems to think that if he shows himself to be a trustworthy steward of the public purse, Republicans will respect him and the voting public will be grateful.”

Liberals long have believed that if you could just reach Ma & Pa America with the unassailable logic of your argument, they’ll happily become liberals too. Or, as Matt Taibbi once opined, only liberals would think that by watching a documentary you can change the world.

Here I am, opening myself up to the charge of being cynical again, but I can’t help it — what I’m about to say is demonstrably true. People, by and large, are stupid. Not only that, they’re happy to be stupid. They want to be stupid.

In the words of a long-ago National Lampoon writer, Don’t you think? Or don’t you?

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

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

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

CLASS ◗ Ivy Tech-Bloomington, Lamkin HallSolving the Credit Mystery: Credit Counseling Expert Panel, Fincaila experts from Fifth Third Bank, IU Credit Union, & Regions Bank; Noon-1pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Stephen Price on organ; 5pm

FILM ◗ IU Swain Hall East — “Un Cuento Chino,” (Argentina, 2011); 6pm

LECTURE ◗ Rachael’s CafeScience Cafe Bloomington, “Climate Change & Bloomington,” Presented by environmental physicist Ben Brabson; 6:30pm

CLASS ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryLights, Camera, Write: An Introduction to the Art of Screenwriting; 6:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDon Ford; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallStudent Recital: Janelle Davis on viola de gamba; 7pm

CLASS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryWe”re Off to See the Wizard!: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; part of the IU LIfelong Learning Series; 7pm

PERFORMANCE ◗ Unity of Bloomington ChurchAuditions & rehearsal, Bloomington Peace Choir; 7pm

STAGE ◗ Brown County Playhouse, Nashville — “Last Train to Nibroc“; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallChamber Orchestra, Uriel Segal, conductor; 8pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, Public viewing through the main telescope; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceAnimal Parts, Shell, Moor Hound; 8pm

DANCING ◗ Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm BloomingtonTeam trivia; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdWolfgang Gartner; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopLost in the Trees, Midtown Dickens; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists; through October 14th
  • “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
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

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

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

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:


THE QUOTE

“…[T]he fact is, most people are not going to be rich someday.” — Roger Ebert

THE WAGES OF SIN

So, the state Court of Appeals reduced Michael Griffin’s sentence by five years. They’re saying the fact that he had to suffer the horror of homosexual sex is as onerous as five years in the joint.

Don Belton: Dead

See, Griffin, who summarily executed IU professor Don Belton during the Christmas season 2009 claimed during his trial that Belton orally and anally raped him while he (Griffin) was passed out drunk after a party. And because Belton did that bad stuff, he (Griffin) felt compelled to stab him 21 times with his Marine combat knife a couple of days later. Did I mention that Griffin also slashed Belton’s throat?

Griffin was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Monday, his sentence was reduced by the higher court. The reduction was based on that claim that Belton committed a crime.

Michael Griffin: Five Years Closer To Freedom

Does this mean that every time Hooisers are sentenced for crimes, all they have to do to get years shaved off their sentences is to claim their victim did something bad first? Without any corroborating evidence?

Just wondering.


WHO WAS FIRST?

The Bloomington Science Cafe convenes again tonight at Rachael’s Cafe on Third Street at 6:30.

The bi-monthly caucus of certified knowledge geeks and the folks who dig them (me, et al) will hear IU archaeology doctoral student Matthew Rowe discuss the peopling of the Americas at this second confab of the season.

Who Were These People?

Organized by Alex Straiker and Jim Wager-Miller of IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, our town’s Science Cafe brings topics of pressing import to the knowledge hungry masses of Bloomington. IU physicist Michael Snow wowed the crowd with a trippy explanation of antimatter two weeks ago.

Rowe’s gabfest, entitled “The First Americans: New Insights into Ancient Migrations,” will address the question of whom, if not the Clovis people, were the first Americans.

Get to Rachael’s early if you want to find a seat.

VI ON RICHISTAN

The race for Indiana governor between Tea Party darling Mike Pence and Dem John Gregg may be a close one.

Gregg earned high praise for selecting as his running mate former State Senate minority leader Vi Simpson. She’ll give a talk today at the Indiana Memorial Union Dogwood Room on “The War on the Middle Class.”

Vi Simpson & John Gregg

The topic is fairly timely for me. I’m reading a book called “Winner-Take-All Politics” by Yale’s Jacob S. Hacker and Cal-Berkeley’s Paul Pierson. Hacker and Pierson are as liberal as the Republican Party fears all university-employed political scientists are. Their thrust is the Republicans have engineered an economy and a federal legislative system in the last 40 or so years that’s geared to funnel more and more dough in the pockets of the plutocracy — at the expense of the middle class

Funny thing is, the Tea Party, which trumpets itself as the voice of jes’ plain folk, really is in the bag for the billionaires of this holy land.

Check out Vi if you have a chance. She’ll speak at noon.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

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

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, outside WFHB StudiosParticipate in the construction of “The Messnger,” recycled metal sculpture to be installed at B-Line Trail; 9am-5pm

POLITICS ◗ IU Memorial Union, Dogwood RoomIndiana Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor talks about “The War on the Middle Class,” free and open to the public; Noon-1:15pm

DISCUSSION ◗ Meadowood Retirement Community, Terrace RoomIssues & Experts series, bi-monthly talk by an IU faculty member on an issue of local, national, or international importance, today: Tim Grose of Central Eurasian Studies discusses Economic Disparities & Consumer Confidence in the People’s Republic of China; 12:15-1:45pm

SCIENCE ◗ Rachael’s Cafe — Bloomington Science Cafe, bimonthly discussion led by an IU faculty member on a selected topic in the hard sciences, tonight: Matthew Rowe discusses “The First Americans: New Insights into Ancient Migrations;” 6:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoDave Gulyas & Dave Bruker; 7pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “Perfect Pitch,” sneak preview; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier men’s soccer vs. Notre Dame; 7pm

PERFORMANCE ◗ Unity of Bloomington ChurchAuditions and rehearsal for the Bloomington Peace Choir; 7pm

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

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubStardusters; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallPro Arte Singers, William Jon Gray, conductor; 8pm

DANCE ◗ Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, public viewing through the main telescope (weather permitting); 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Buskirk Chumley TheaterAni Difranco; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRod Tuffcurls & the Benchpress; 9pm

ONGOING:

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

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let’s face it; god has a big ego problem. Why do we always have to worship him?” — Bill Maher

PAY ‘EM: DAY 3

Bill Lichtenberg of Forest Park, Illinois feels I took too strong a position yesterday on the venial nature of the Chicago Teachers Union strike.

In case you missed it, I said the strike is not about children, it’s about pay and workplace conditions.

He’s a strong supporter of teachers unions, as am I. But we come to our stances via different paths.

Striking Chicago Teachers, September 11th, 2012

His path, I suppose, wound through the neighborhood of the angels. Me? I’ve always taken shortcuts through the alley.

Bill sent me a link to the CTU’s dissertation on what the Chicago Public Schools system needs to do to ensure that every student gets, in the union’s words, “the same quality education as the children of the wealthy.”

Make no mistake, I’m with the teachers on that issue as well. I just know that unions usually don’t go on strike for high-minded ideals.

BLINDED BY SCIENCE

I’ll be at Rachael’s Cafe tonight listening to physicist Michael Snow talk about antimatter.

It’s the season’s first gathering of the latest incarnation of the Bloomington Science Cafe.

I’d post an image illustrating antimatter but, well, I can’t. And if I have to explain this gag, you ought to come to Rachael’s tonight at 6:30pm to find out why.

THE WRATH OF GOD

Religious fundamentalists in Egypt and Libya are having apoplexy over some amateur video that purportedly insults Muslims or their god or whatever.

Word just came in that the US ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. It was one of several such attacks in the two countries.

Demonstrating His Holiness

The film reportedly was made by an Israeli-American but certain people in Cairo believe it was actually made by Egyptians Copts living in the US. The Copts are a favorite minority for Muslim fundamentalists upon whom to vent whatever rage they happen to feel on a given day.

So now the Copts of Cairo are coming out into the streets to shake their fists at anyone who insults anybody’s religion.

Sigh.

I suppose I understand why the Copts are joining in on all the fun. It’s better than getting the bejesus beaten out of them for something they didn’t even do.

In any case, it apparently doesn’t matter who made the film, only that wild-eyed fundamentalists get to whack the crap out of somebody to show how much they love god.

You know, we’ve got out own religious lunatics in this holy land. The Rev. Fred Phelps jumps to mind. Gasbags like Pastor John Hagee and TV plaster saint Pat Robertson have done their share to foment hate as well.

Phelps Is Deranged But He’s Not A Murderer (As Of This Morning)

But it has to be said we don’t have mobs running around snuffing out lives to demonstrate how spiritual they are.

Today’s events remind me of a controversial riff delivered by Bill Maher a couple of years ago, comparing Muslim extremists to other god fans. “When I make a joke about the Pope,” Maher quipped, “he doesn’t send one of his Swiss Guards in their striped pantaloons to stick a pike in my ass.”

Much as I loathe defending the Pope on any topic, I have to agree with Maher on this one.

YOU’LL SURVIVE

No Big Mike’s Playtime: Fun on the Interwebs today. I’m in too much of a hurry.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution tomorrow morning.” — Henry Ford

THE REVOLUTION BEGINS: THE BATTLE OF STARBUCKS

Brain maven Alex Straiker was in a chatty mood this morning, for which I detested him. I hadn’t had my life giving dose of Sumatra yet and therefore was in no position to tolerate the very existence of Straiker or anybody else, much less hear anything he or they had to say.

But good old Alex persisted. And give me credit; I didn’t assault or batter him. I must like the fellow.

Lucky Guy

Anyway, he asked, “Did you see what happened at the Starbucks?”

I concealed my abhorrence of his presence enough to grunt in the negative. “Yeah,” he said, “someone smashed the window.”

Fortunately for him my caffeine fix arrived at that moment. I took a deep gulp. As if by magic, I felt I could bear the existence of certain humans, of which he is one.

“What happened?” I asked. “What was it all about?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Anti-corporate radicals?” He smirked.

“Aha! May Day,” I concluded. “The revolution is starting.”

The Battle Has Been Joined

“Perhaps,” Alex said. “But it’s May 6th.”

“There is that,” I allowed. “When did it happen?”

“Last night, I assume.”

“Maybe they were late.”

Good scientist that he is, Alex eyed me skeptically. “Well, I suppose that’s possible,” he said, which is code for “That’s stupid.”

Riot!

Not having my digital camera with me, I borrowed his iPhone and trundled off to Indiana Avenue where the Starbuck’s in question faces the Sample Gates. I clicked away at the devastation for publication in this up-to-the-nano-second media colossus. No one scoops the Electron Pencil.

While waddling back to Soma Coffee I mused about what I would say upon receiving my Pulitzer Prize for recording the opening shot in the Great War Against the Corporations.

“I’d Like To Thank….”

Back at Soma, Alex and The Loved One sat waiting for me. “So,” T-LO asked, “What do you think?”

By this time, perspective had elbowed its way back into my thinking processes. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, it could have been just another incident of vandalism. I felt let down.

Alex said, “Did you notice the smell in there?”

No, I told him, I hadn’t gone in.

“There was a horrible smell. They said there was a problem with the ovens, as well. It smelled like burned plastic.”

A lightbulb went off over T-LO’s head. “I’ve got it,” she announced. “They were stoners. They smashed their way into the place and put some food in the oven. But being stupid and stoned, they didn’t realize that you shouldn’t put plastic in a hot oven.”

“Dude, I Got The Munchies.”

Alex nodded. Her theory seemed distinctly more reasonable than my revolution story. Still, I persisted. “Hey, there’s a long history of revolutionary action (read: rationalized vandalism) in this town,” I said. I reminded them of the rough welcome both Starbucks and McDonald’s got when they opened up shop in downtown Bloomington some 12 years ago. Windows were routinely smashed and radical graffiti was spray painted on their walls.

It was clear, though, that neither T-Lo nor Alex was willing to grant another iota of credence to the idea anymore.

By and by, T-LO and I said our goodbyes to the Soma gang. I suggested we walk past the Starbuck’s. Early Sunday morning coffee sippers sat calmly in its outdoor cafe seats. Birds tweeted, the sun shone, joggers huffed past. Revolution was not in the air. Nobody seemed to notice the board-up job on the Starbuck’s storefront.

I shrugged and said, “Well, it wasn’t crazy to think it was a revolution, was it?”

“I Mean, It Could Happen, Couldn’t It?”

T-LO had the good grace not to respond. George Bull, a long-time IU staffer, now retired, coasted up on his snazzy new bike. I pointed out the boarded-up window. “Oh,” he said, “I hadn’t even noticed.”

“I thought it might have been radicals,” I said.

“Hmm,” he said. “Looks more like childish overexuberance on graduation day.”

Sheesh. These people sure know how to throw cold water on a good scoop.

PRETTY PICTURES — HARD SCIENCE

Speaking of Straiker (which sounds like a good name for a blog — I’d better copyright it), he tells us plans have been finalized for an innovative art exhibit at the SOFA Grunwald Gallery. Set to open in August, 2013, the show will be a collaboration between scientists and artists.

Straiker says with the new developments in microscopic imaging for scientific researchers, the potential for compelling art is ripe to be explored. Straiker and a couple of colleagues, Jim Miller, also of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, and the botanist Jessica Lucas, have their own exhibit of images on display at Finch’s Brasserie.

Photo Microscopy Image Of Plant Root Hairs By Jessica Lucas

“But we’re just dabblers,” Straiker says. “We’ll partner with real artists for this show. It should be interesting.”

Jim Powers, manager of the IU Light Microscopy Imaging Center, and Lucas, as well as some geologists and a few other scientific researchers, all are slated to participate in the show.

SCIENCE CAFE UPDATE

BTW: Straiker also revealed this morning that the Science Cafe, originally scheduled to resume sessions last month, has been tabled until September. “Everybody wanted to do it in the fall,” Straiker explained. “It’s not easy getting these scientists together on anything. It’s like herding cats.”

The Science Cafe will be held monthly at Rachael’s Cafe. Each session will feature a researcher speaking about a specific topic. The idea is to bring science to the public. I can’t wait.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

Angela Hendrix-Petry With Chloe & Jasper

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsExhibit, Daniel Lager; through May 17th

The Solution LabConference, Bloomington Startup Weekend, for developers, designers, entrepreneurs, etc.; through Sunday

Cafe DjangoBrunch guitar, Peter Kienie; 11am-1pm

Sembower FieldIUBaseball vs. Nebraska; 1pm

TC Steele State Historic SiteSunday Hiking Series: The Birds and the Trees for Nature Lovers, led by IU’s Jules Erwin; 1-3pm

Monroe County History CenterReception, Historic Preservation Month, keynote address by Duncan Campbell of Ball State University’s Center for Historic Preservation; exhibit, Bloomington Fading photos; 3pm

Bloomington Fading

IU Neal-Marshall Black Culture CenterListening & dancing to Ritmos Unidos; 4pm

Emeriti HouseJuried art show, works by retired IU faculty and staff; 5:30-7:30pm

The Player’s PubRichard Dugger Band; 6pm

Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series, “444 The Last day on Earth”; 7pm

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” — Kurt Vonnegut

THE RETURN OF THE SCIENCE CAFE

Yep, the Bloomington Science Cafe is back. The shebang petered out when its home at the time, Borders, closed down here a couple of years ago.

Now it’s got new digs: Rachael’s Cafe.

Cerebellum tinkerer Alex Straiker of the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department is the driving force behind the local Cafe’s resurrection.

Straiker

Science cafes, Straiker explains, exist all over the world in big cities and college towns. They bring researchers and scientists together with less cranially endowed folk. Typically, they’re at coffeehouses and bookstores.

He’d hoped to start a Science Cafe when he arrived in town some five years ago but found one already underway. Graduate School Communications Director Erika Biga Lee was the mad scientist behind that incarnation. She’d started the thing in September, 2006, and welcomed Straiker aboard.

Biga Lee

Erika Biga Lee’s baby was sponsored in part by Borders until the bookstore chain sputtered to its demise. “It sort of went down with the ship,” Straiker says.

While Science Cafe I was up and running, the general public could stop by and listen to lectures on the science of marijuana, say, or the geology of Mars. One night, peak oil was the topic.

“Typically, 30 or 40 people would come,” Straiker says, “but attendance could range from 25 to 65.”

Erika Biga Lee is too busy these days to direct the get-togethers so Straiker and his lab colleague, Jim Wager-Miller, will run the show. They’re looking to present talks on the science of coffee, addictions, and dark matter within the first few weeks.

Straiker says he comes up with the topics, based mostly on ideas that intrigue him. Then he and Wager-Miller go around the IU campus looking for experts in those fields who’d like to make presentations.

“There’s an emphasis on openness and participation,” Straiker says. “We welcome questions. It’s meant to be a bridge between scientists and people.”

Straiker is hoping the first Bloomington Science Cafe II session will be either Wednesday, March 21st or 28th, 2012. Admission is free and open to the public. Rachael’s is at 300 E. 3rd St. Phone: 812.330.1882. Science Cafe sessions will be every Wednesday from 6:30-8pm.

CERTIFIED ORGANIC POISON

Interesting little piece on NPR this morning. Dartmouth College researchers have found high levels of arsenic in rice around the world.

Killer Weed

The horror. Surely our local food faddists will be up in arms about this. Just another example of the fascist-corporate agri-business tyrants poisoning us for fun and profit, no?

No.

“It turns out that arsenic is naturally occurring in soil and water and rice plants seem to have this special ability to soak up more arsenic from the environment than other plants,” says reporter Nancy Shute.

Brown rice actually contains more arsenic than white rice because it hasn’t been stripped of its constituent substances. And, no, buying organic rice won’t make any difference because, well, arsenic is there, folks, right in the holy dirt we plant our crops in.

Mother Earth is a killer.

THE SANTORUM SCHOOL

Now we know Rick Santorum and his wife have homeschooled their seven children.

I imagine they didn’t want the young’uns to be tainted by too many things like facts and knowledge. Man, I shudder to think what, for instance, the daily math lesson must have been like in the Santorum boot camp.

Mrs. Santorum: “Children, god created all the numbers. Let us remember that six times two equals twelve. We know this because that’s how many apostles Jesus had. Who can name all the apostles?”

Young Patrick Santorum: “Peter, James the Greater, James the Lesser, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas.”

Math, Santorum-Style

Mrs. Santorum: “Very good. And which apostle betrayed our lord and savior, Jesus Christ?”

Peter Santorum: “Judas.”

Mrs. Santorum: “Now, Peter. Pronounce his name correctly.”

Peter: “Um…, uh….”

Mrs. Santorum: “Say it like this: JEW-diss.”

Peter: “JEW-diss.”

Mrs. Santorum: “Very good. How much did Judas sell out our lord and savior for?”

Sarah Maria Santorum: “Ooh, ooh, ooh!”

Mrs. Santorum: “Yes, Sarah.”

Sarah: “Thirty pieces of silver.”

Judas Loved Money, Had a Sharp Nose, And Was Sneaky — You Do The Math

Mrs. Santorum: “Very good. And did the apostles accept food stamps?”

Daniel Santorum: “No.”

Mrs. Santorum: “So should Americans accept food stamps?”

All (in unsion): “No, ma’am.”

And so on. Math.

I’m still of two minds regarding the question of homeschooling. I subscribe wholeheartedly to Mark Twain’s line, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Meaning, among other things, that making kids sit in a classroom all day is about as ridiculous a way to impart knowledge to hungry young minds as can be conjured by the most cruel sadist.

I’ve met so many homeschooled kids who speak remarkably well and can relate to adults confidently. Most of the school-schooled kids I know are pretty much rotten little bastards who I’ll be happy to spend time with only after they reach the age of 30.

“Do Me A Favor, Kids — Go Away For A Few Years, OK?”

I know of homeschooled kids who devour books on the Moomins and Tintin and then graduate to Neil Gaiman. Again, most of the school-schooled kids I meet have never once in their lives heard the sound of a vocalist that wasn’t Auto-Tuned and pitch-corrected. I mean, they actually believe Katy Perry sounds that way.

One of the things that concern me about homeschooling is the desire on the part of parents to isolate their kids from the world. Of course, when you take the aforementioned contrasts into account, isolating the kids from the world doesn’t sound like the worst thing you could do to them.

But if you’re hoping to isolate your kids from liberals, agnostics, Muslims, Hallowe’en witches, Harry Potter, “In the Night Kitchen,” and M&Ms, homeschooling seems more a sentence than a choice.

Perhaps worst of all, Rick and his wife, Karen, compelled their children to spend the vast majority of their days with, well, them. The poor kids.

But there is a bright side to all this. At least neighborhood schoolkids were isolated from Santorum-think.

TOO BUSY THINKIN’ ‘BOUT MY BABY

Marvin Gaye didn’t have time for school — he had girls on his mind.

He became one of this holy land’s most beloved recording artists. Later, he tumbled into substance addiction and then his old man pumped him full of lead, snuffing his life out at the age of 44.

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