Category Archives: Rolling Stone

Hot Air

Quick Hits & Snippets

Cold yet? Just wait. In the meantime, here are some news tidbits, opinions, and pontifications straight from The Pencil world headquarters. BTW: Chris Madsen, long-time voice of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and noted national media consultant, called my almost-daily word spurts “rants” yesterday. Hmm! Rants, eh? I’ll show you some rants.

Brrrrrr…., Grrrrrr!

Personal to Old Man Winter: Just go, will you?

Winter Ice

Music As Biography

Have you read the piece on John Mellencamp in the last Rolling Stone issue of 2013? It’s called “My Life in 15 Songs” and, in it, he describes how he’s grown, how his life has changed through the years as landmarked by certain hits. Pretty cool idea.

Now, I’ve never met Mellencamp, although I like to think we’re neighbors: He and I live on Indiana State Road 446. Of course, his lakefront mansion is some five miles south of my far more modest chez.

Anyway, when I first moved here, I’d hear people talking about M. and their stories generally went something like this:

My cousin’s brother-in-law knew him in high school and, man, was he an asshole. There was this one time….

None of the people who were so certain as to the character of the pop star-turned Americana singer-songwriter had ever seen the man, much less knew him.

I get the feeling that because he’d elected to live in So. Cent. Ind. people expected him to be chummy and warm with everyone he’d run into hereabouts, as if, rather than being a worldwide celebrity, he was everybody’s next door neighbor. So when he’d grunt in response to goggle-eyed fans accosting him at the Starbucks, they’d take it personally.

Mellencamp/Irwin

Jekyll & Bride

Conversely, his ex-wife, the stunning model Elaine Irwin, seems universally regarded as the nicest human ever to breath air in Indiana. I’ve got a theory about that, too, natch. See, people expect super models to be haughty, aloof, and utterly unapproachable. So whenever anyone might run into her in the Starbucks line, they’d hear her say please and thank you to the barista and come away convinced that she was, in truth, gushingly effusive and open-armed.

Face it, folks, we’re a weird species.

I’d Like You To Meet Someone….

Hey, as soon as I finish clacking this post out, I’m off to the recording studio to do an interview with big time graphic novelist Nate Powell. His latest tome is a joint production with Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) and writer Andrew Aydin entitled March: Book One. It the first of a trilogy recounting the life of the civil rights leader from his days on a little Pike County, Alabama, farm through the 1965 voting rights march in Selma (where he got his skull broken by an Alabama state trooper) and on, triumphantly, to the halls of the US Capitol.

Nate Powell Artwork/John Lewis

Powell & Lewis

Powell’s well-known for his graphic novels, including Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire. He took a roundabout route to comix fame and we’ll be talking about it all today. My interview with him will be the first in a joint production venture between WFHB and The Ryder magazine. We’re looking to run a monthly piece in the mag featuring compelling folk from here in the Bloomington area as well as a companion audio feature on the Daily Local News. I’m excited as all hell about it.

Kudos and thanks to WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh and Ryder editor/publisher Peter LoPilato for joining the venture. BTW: I haven’t figured out what to call the thing yet. I’ve tossed around some ideas in my coconut and the best so far seems to be Big Mike’s People. If you’ve got a better idea, by all means pass it on.

Ready, Aim…, Duck!

Wow, here’s a shocker: Those Duck Dynasty hyenas are now pimping for a gun manufacturer. Imagine that! Bigoted people and guns. No one on Earth has ever made that connection before.

Tea Party & Guns

Poor Little Rich Boys

And, of course, the “affluenza” defense is becoming real, at least a version of it. Well, “real” in the same sense that, say, an accused rapist might plead he couldn’t help himself because that woman wore a miniskirt.

Ty Warner, the billionaire entrepreneurial genius who gave us Beanie Babies®, has been convicted of income tax evasion for parking countless millions of dollars in off-shore accounts. See, geniuses shouldn’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us slobs.

He has pleaded guilty in federal court to the tax evasion charges and now is trying to convince the judge in his case that he shouldn’t go to jail because he came from the most deprived of childhoods so how could she expect him to do the right thing when he became a bazillionaire?

Warner

The Tears Of A Clown

Warner faces five years in the federal pen; that’s in addition to the $53 million in penalties and $16 million in back taxes he’s already been ordered to pay. But his reasoning goes that rich geniuses shouldn’t have to go to jail for evading taxes, especially if they’d been forced to endure abominations like taking jobs as busboys and valet parkers when they were in college.

The horror.

Do I need to tell you how I hope the judge rules?

Room To Write

Resident of the Internet-iverse (although his corporal body can be found in Forest Park, Illinois), Bill Lichtenberg, happened upon some chilling stats. Chilling, that is, when one (me) considers the depth and breadth of the competition to get one’s (mine) novel published.

Dominic Smith, writing in the books, arts and culture online magazine The Millions, has found that there are way, way, way, way too many people trying to catch the eyes of traditional publishers these days. Smith writes:

After studying the data, I’m inclined to think there’s a million people writing novels, a quarter of a million actively publishing them in some form, and about 50,000 publishing them with mainstream and small, traditional presses.

That’s in America alone, babies.

Personal to other writers: Back off; you’re crowding me

Radio Talk

Finally, the newly-formed WFHB newsletter committee will meet again tonight. I can say that I’m on the committee and maybe — just maybe — tonight I can get the other members to give me permission to identify them. We’ll see.

Anyway, the committee last week decided to aim for March to put out the inaugural issue.

Stay tuned.

Your Daily Hot Air

Reactions

Barack Obama yesterday spoke like a black man for the first time since he hit the national scene. He said, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP

Impromptu & Unexpected

Now, I’ve just read about this impromptu speech on the Guardian UK website. My immediate reaction was: Guaranteed, tons of folks in this holy land are gonna say, “If only that was Barack Obama 35 years ago.”

So let me take a break for a few moments so I can go through my go-to Right wingnut sites and see if  the oh-so dependable crypto-racists of Murrica have made a seer out of me.

While you wait for me to do this pressing research, enjoy this:

Okay, I’m back. In fact, I was finished with my search long before the above vid was over. Ya gotta love the Right; they come through every time.

The reactionary conservative world had apoplexy over the prez’ comments, natch. Among other things, they accused Obama of trying to “tear the nation apart,” they called him the “Race-baiter in Chief.” One woman wrote, “I had no idea Obama sucker-punched a watch volunteer & then bashed his head in. Who knew?” Another called him a “buffoon,” “racist,” a lyncher, and guilty of sedition. A third called him “the most irresponsible president in history.” Jim Hoft, AKA the Dumbest Man on the Internet, wrote, “Good Lord — he is stoking a race war.”

And that very sensitive deep thinker Sean Hannity wondered aloud if Obama really meant he was like Martin because he (Obama) had smoked pot and “did a little blow” when he was the age of the late Florida teenager.

Now, bingo! Here’s the magic comment by someone named OldHickory21 on the Daily Caller website: “If only Obama had run into a George Zimmerman there in Hawaii, we wouldn’t be watching our country going down the drain right now. Too bad.”

From the Daily Caller

Good to know some things are reliable in this ever-changing world.

Pretty Little Terrorist

Speaking of the deranged Right (and ain’t I always?), our nation’s non compos mentalists found themselves all aflutter earlier in the week when Rolling Stone put a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover.

Rolling Stone Cover

For years, being on the cover of the Rolling Stone was seen as perhaps the ultimate honor a rock star or movie actor could earn. Hell, there was even a hit song about it called — what else? — “Cover of the Rolling Stone” back in 1973.

Ignoring the fact that the remaining couple of dozen people who still read Rolling Stone are those who were young and hip aways back in 1973 and now are concerned mostly with erectile dysfunction and the rising cost of cemetery plots, the hysterical Right concluded that the mag was championing young Tsarnaev and his alleged pressure cooker attack on the Boston Marathon.

For some odd reason, the unreasonable of this nation feel the rather normal-looking mug of the accused deep-fryer bomber will inspire doddering former hippies to revolt. Presumably, they’ll attack the Silent Majority with their canes and walkers.

It follows, then, that a number of drug and convenience stores had removed the publication from their shelves because…, well, because. And some guy from the Massachusetts State Police said the cover “glamorized the face of terror.”

I have no idea what they’d have preferred Jan Wenner put on the cover — perhaps a photo of a warthog or Adolf Hitler or simply a garden variety brown Arab. Now those things are ugly and/or evil. Tsarnaev the Younger can even be described as attractive. What kind of monster would attach a picture of a cute white kid to a story about a vicious terrorist act, even if the cute white kid (allegedly) did the act?

Warthog

The Face Of Terror

Anyways, my concern here is with the retailers who took the mag off their shelves. It makes me think of my recent promises to refuse to sell certain books to people at (shameless plug here) Bloomington’s only remaining independent bookseller, the Book Corner.

Loyal readers know that I’ve promised not to participate in a transaction with any customer who wants to buy faux-pimp James O’Keefe’s memoir, anything by the execrable Glenn Beck, and anything by or on behalf of doughy vigilante George Zimmerman. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing I’d helped those chuckleheads earn even a penny.

My take on those who refuse to peddle the Tsarnaev Rolling Stone is that they’re narrow minded prigs who dig censorship.

So I have to ask myself, when all is said and done: Aren’t I, too?

To be frank, I don’t know the answer yet. Either that or I do know the answer and I simply don’t want to admit it.

It Is A Puzzle(ment)

Here’s a fun heads up. Theater and non-profit maven Marc Tschida is making, with his bare hands, a neat selection of Bloomington-oriented jigsaw puzzles.

Tschida

Marc Tschida

Well, okay, he’s using a jigsaw, among other handy tools, but y’know.

Thus far, he’s produced a nifty Buskirk Chumley Theater puzzle as well others depicting Cardinal Stage Company productions and the face of a beloved local citizen whose identity will remain a secret until he gets all the appropriate releases signed and sealed. Look for tons more B-town landmarks and defining images to pop up in stores near you within the next few months.

Tschida Puzzle

Tschida’s “Charlotte’s Web” Puzzle

Tschida is donating gobs of the puzzles to area non-profits for fundraising raffles and giveaways. Pencillistas, unbuckle your money belts and throw a little cash Tschida’s way.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“[Martin Luther] King’s response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living….” — Cornel West

GORE VIDAL, 1925-2012

An unapologetic liberal. Of course, I don’t know why anyone should feel a need to apologize for being liberal.

I had my political awakening in 1968, when I was 12 years old. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed, segregationist George Wallace ran for president, Vietnam was raging. Riots, protests, the Democratic convention in Chicago — all of it thrilled and horrified me.

Then, on a steamy Wednesday night in August as Chicago cops rioted, busting heads and bloodying protesters, reporters, delegates, and innocent passersby on Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley faced off on ABC TV. The moderator was Howard K. Smith.

Vidal was aggressively anti-war; Buckley aggressively pro-war. The two battled verbally until things seemed about to devolve into physical combat.

Vidal: “As far as I’m concerned, the only sort of pro-crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself.”

Buckley: “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the god damned face and you’ll stay plastered.”

I watched this live. I took sides right then and there.

Vidal would not back down, even when threatened by a Tory, royalist, blue-blood, former captain of the Yale debate team. He merely smiled when Buckley called him a queer.

I only wish liberals were as tough today.

CRISIS

If you read nothing else on the environment or the issue of climate change this summer, make sure you catch Bill McKibben‘s latest, terrifying piece in Rolling Stone.

Bill McKibben

Folks, we’ve got problems. The crisis is not tomorrow; it’s today.

And if you happen to encounter someone who denies global warming, don’t even bother arguing with them. Just tell ’em to kiss your ass.

MILLIONS OF CARS

Dig Tuesday’s XKCD: What If? post, imaged and linked below in Big Mike’s Playtime section.

This week’s physics theoretical asks, “What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?”

The answers (spoiler alert!) are — 1) not much would happen (unless we consider the computers that control the world’s nuclear arsenals to be robots, then too much) and 2) indefinitely (unless, again, the above contingency holds, then, oh, 13 seconds).

But the fascinating thing I found was the author’s calculation that at any given moment in the United States, there are 10 million cars on the road.

I might add that fully 75 percent of that number are snarled up at the Bypass construction zone at this very moment.

CAMPAIGN GAMES

Shelli Yoder yesterday challenged Todd Young to a series of debates in each of the 13 Indiana counties that make up the 9th Congressional District.

Young’s camp pooh-poohed the whole idea. The Republican incumbent’s campaign boss, Trevor Foughty, told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the debate challenge is a publicity stunt.

Shelli Yoder & Todd Young

Funny thing is, Young himself upset long-time 9th District rep Baron Hill in 2010 in part by, well, challenging the Dem to a series of debates.

I’M A LION — GRRRROWWLLLL!

Will Murphy, former general manager of Bloomington’s WFHB and current honcho at Ft. Wayne’s WBOI, learned about Snoop Dogg’s transformation into Snoop Lion yesterday.

Or Maybe I’m A Soldier — Ten Hut!

Murphy observed, “Not sure what to make of this.”

I set the radio man straight. “Nothing, Will. Absolutely nothing.”

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

XKCD: What If?

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present and CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Flip Flop Fly Ball

Mental FlossFacts.

Caps Off PleaseComics & fun.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

The Daily Puppy: Skeeter The Samoyed

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

Monroe County FairgroundsDay 5, 2012 Monroe County Fair, Senior citizens day, Joe Edwards & Jan Masters Show; 1, 3:30 & 6pm — Royal Flush karaoke; 6pm — Clayton Anderson; 7:30pm — Three Bar J Rodeo; 7:30pm; Noon to 11pm

Cafe DjangoTom Miller’s Last Show; 7:30pm

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

Bear’s PlaceAmericana Jam: Chris Wolf, Danika Holmes, Suzette Weakly; 8pm

The Player’s PubSarah’s Swing Set; 8pm

The Comedy AtticBloomington Comedy Festival, audience vote decides the funniest person in Bloomington; 8pm

Boys & Girls Club of BloomingtonContra dancing; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 9pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryPublic viewing through main telescope, weather permitting; 10pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; opens Friday, August 3rd, through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits: Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; through August 3rd

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesClosed for semester break, reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History Center Exhibits:

  • “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
  • Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let us remind our poor men folk in deed and song:

There are two types of men in this womanly world:

Those who know they are weak,

Those who think they are strong.” — Philip Strax

SO FAR AWAY

Didja catch the sky show this weekend?

The thumbnail moon has been doing a celestial dance with the planets Venus and Jupiter. Man, it’s a fantastic tableau.

Tonight’s Arrangement

All three orbs are doh-si-doh-ing in the far western sky at sunset and for about an hour and a half thereafter.

Imagine: you can glance up at the clear sky at, say, 7:30pm any evening this week and literally see an object — Jupiter — that’s a hair less than 600 million miles away. Think of it this way, that’s 240,000 times the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Some Walk

Or, to put it another way, it’s more than 5200 times the number of miles the average American walks in a lifetime.

Don’t miss the show, folks.

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”

Just got finished reading Kurt Vonnegut‘s “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.” Fun book. Took me an hour. Give it a shot.

It’s a compilation of audio pieces Vonnegut did for Public Radio’s WNYC in New York. The idea being Vonnegut, working with the suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, repeatedly gets just enough lethal injection medication to bring him to a series of near-death experiences.

Life & Death

He travels down the bright blue tunnel and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven and is able to interview various dead folk. He speaks with such luminaries as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Shakespeare, and Clarence Darrow as well as people you wouldn’t expect to have merited entrance to paradise; Vonnegut interviews Adolf Hitler and James Earl Ray, too.

There is no hell in Vonnegut’s conceit, so everybody who dies gets to go to heaven. Hitler, for his part, tells him the world should erect a stone monument to his memory, perhaps at the site of the United Nations in New York. The monument should be inscribed, “Entschuldigen Sie” — I beg your pardon.

Anyway, the quote at the top of this post comes from one of the people Vonnegut meets in heaven. Dr. Philip Strax was the guy who convinced American women and their doctors that mammograms were essential in detecting early, treatable, forms of breast cancer. He and a couple of associates, Sam Shapiro and Dr. Louis Venet, published their ground-breaking study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1966.

No telling how many women’s lives have been saved by the Strax et al paper. Strax’s own wife died of breast cancer at the age of 39 and he devoted the rest of his life to fighting the disease.

One Way To Look At Things

Check out any magazine and you’ll naturally come to the conclusion that Americans have breasts on their minds from morning until night. Men, in case you didn’t know, even dream about them. At least Phil Strax turned a preoccupation with mammaries into a service to humankind.

C’MON, LET’S PLAY!

Friday, I put the challenge out there: Let’s play a game wherein we try to guess how outlandish the Republican Party will become by the 2016 presidential race.

After all, things have become so psychotic around POG world headquarters that smart-asses like me can hardly even make jokes about them anymore. The Republican candidates are the joke.

Comedy Competition

It can only get worse. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone thinks that the Republican attack strategy which has worked so well for more than 30 years has become so pervasive that this year’s nominees have turned on each other. The Republicans, Taibbi implies, have become cannibals.

So, I put out the call for Pencillistas get all creative and try to imagine how psychotic the GOP (oh, right, I forgot — the POG) will become in four years.

The game, which I dubbed the Electron Cool Test, is easily played. Just come up with some nightmarish slogan, a weird candidate, or a bizarre scenario that the Republicans will foist upon us the next time we stage a presidential beauty contest after 2012.

I started things off by suggesting Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump will be the frontrunners when primary season 2016 commences. They will face none other than Chelsea Clinton in my fever dream.

Commander-in-Chief

Pencillista Nona Schultz foresees the Republicans gobbling themselves to near-death this year, making them bit players in the political arena for years to come. “This is my delusion and I’m sticking to it,” she writes.

Bloomington City Council member Susan Sandberg pulled a comfy chair up to the keyboard and clacked out a dystopian novella. Running mates Mitch Daniels and Chris Christy will character-assassinate poor young Chelsea (who’ll indeed be 35 by 2016) and squeak past her in the election.

A Heartbeat Away

Daniels will preside over an economic depression forcing many Americans into bread lines. America under the former Indiana governor will be a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually starved country,” Sandberg writes.

Sheez, Susan, way to bum us all out.

It’s on you now, Pencillistas. What do the Republicans have in store for us in four years? Simply type your entry in the Leave A Comment section.

And remember, the winner will get a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

FORGET THE ELEPHANT

The elephant has been the mascot of the Republican Party for some 140 years.

That’s a shame because elephants are among my fave critters on Earth. Republicans, not so much.

So I suggest a switch. Follow me, now.

The Party needs an animal mascot that’s native to the United States — the elephant, of course, is not.

The animal must be the largest of its kind. Republicans, like Texans, like things big.

It can’t be a vegetarian, like the pachyderm. No, it must eat meat (or at least living, moving, noise-making creatures.)

It must have a certain burly quality, perhaps an upper body that’s heavily muscled. Republicans like their idols to be he-men.

Finally, the animal must have a mean disposition and weapons to back it up. After all, what’s a Republican without weapons?

Therefore, I hereby propose that the animal known by the zoological term Conepatus leoconotus be named the new animal mascot for the Party of God.

Conepati live in such definitively American spots as Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. If that doesn’t scream out GOP, I don’t know what does.

They have strong front legs and shoulders, like Chuck Norris. They have long, thick claws which, in the animal world, are the equivalent of firearms. The NRA should love these guys.

Speaking Of Symbolism

Finally, Conepati, when annoyed or frightened, spray a foul-smelling substance from a gland located near their anus. What could be more Republican than that?

Conepatus leuconotus is more commonly known as the hog-nosed skunk.

Perfect.

Grand Old Party

These critters are the whitest among the many varieties of skunks. Republican, right? Oh, and they have a dark underside.

Hey, Newt Gingrich might already be a hog-nosed skunk.

There. I’ve solved the mascot problem for the GOP. Now I’ll get cracking on the Dems — although it’ll be hard to top the jackass as a symbol for that gang.

%d bloggers like this: