Category Archives: Salman Rushdie

The Pencil Today:


“Men rarely, if ever, manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” — Robert A. Heinlein


From all I hear, she was universally beloved. We were Facebook friends but I’d never met her. I’ve put out the call for someone to write up a good eulogy for her in this space. Stay tuned.

Sophia & Her Four-Year-Old Son Finn

Gun Crazy

Remember that guy found with an arsenal on the third floor of the Seventh Street municipal parking garage?

Robert Redington of Indianapolis was caught loitering six weeks ago in the garage at a spot that just happened to overlook Kilroy’s Sports Bar on Walnut Street. Police have been sensitive about Kilroy’s ever since Lauren Spierer disappeared after spending the night drinking at the place in June, 2011.

Redington, apparently, was watching people come into and out of Kilroy’s. He had with him a laser rangefinder as well as a couple of loaded automatic handguns in his waistband. Police also found a loaded shotgun in the trunk of his car nearby.

Indiana’s new carry laws don’t prohibit the average citizen from walking around so armed. But Redington has been found to be off his nut. Somehow, the NRA and other gun fetishists haven’t convinced legislators to allow every lunatic in the state to pack heat. Yet.

Anyway, Redington had a cache of 51 guns in his home. The cops seized all the weapons after he was arrested. Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff ruled yesterday in Monroe County Circuit Court that Redington’s personal armory will not be returned to him. Indiana law allows judges to disarm those who’ve been ruled dangerously mad.

Somehow, some way, the sane among us have put at least that much of a brake on the steady trend to allow every man, woman, child, and — for all we know — household pet to own and carry firearms.


Salman Rushdie is the go-to guy for a personal slant on the chaotic demonstrations and riots sweeping the Muslim world in reaction to that ridiculous “Innocence of Muslims” film and the French magazine cartoon that lampoons Muhammad.


Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered a necktie party for Rushdie after the publication of his book, “The Satanic Verses,” in 1989. And on Monday, some previously anonymous imam offered to pay $3.3 million to any Muslim who kills Rushdie. These guys have long memories.

Muslim extremism is beginning to make this holy land’s god-fetishists look quaint.

God’s Soldiers

So, Rushdie granted an interview to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria this week. It’ll air on Zakaria’s Global Public Square program Sunday. Rushdie has plenty to say about the contretemps in Muslim Southwest Asia and Africa. He feels much of the outrage and violence is being manufactured by those who hope to benefit from the chaos. That’s how he felt about the demonstrations against his book 23 years ago, as well.

Rushdie says: “…I think certainly, if we look at what’s happening now, this is very much a product of the outrage machine. Yes. there’s this stupid film, and the correct response to a stupid film on YouTube is to say it’s a stupid film on YouTube, and you get on with the rest of your life. So, to take that and to deliberately use it to inflame your troops, you know, is a political act. That’s not about religion; that’s about power.”

Yep, we’re back here for the time being.

The spanking new Ryder website is…, well, it’s somewhere. While Peter LoPilato and his army of computer geeks perfect the new site, we’ll be running Bloomington’s best events listings here, again.


Friday, September 21st, 2012

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

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Downtown Bloomington, various locationsLotus World Music & Arts Festival; though Sunday, September 23rd, various times, today’s lineups:

Buskirk Chumley Theater:

  • Deolinda; 7pm
  • Fatoumata Diawara; 8:45pm
  • Fishtank Ensemble; 10:30pm

First United Methodist Church:

  • JPP; 7pm
  • Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps; 8:45pm
  • Vida; 10:30pm

Ivy Tech Tent:

  • Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three; 7pm
  • Hanggai; 8:45pm
  • Panorama Jazz Band; 10:30pm

IU Tent:

  • Taj Weekes & Adowa; 7:15pm
  • Slavic Soul Party; 8:45pm
  • Movits!; 10:30pm

First Presbyterian Church:

  • Melody of China; 7pm
  • Keith Terry & Evie Ladin; 8:45pm
  • Trio Brasileiro; 10:30pm

Jake’s Nightclub:

  • Hudsucker Posse; 10pm

MUSIC FESTIVAL ◗ Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park & Campground38th Annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Uncle Pen Days; through Saturday, September 22nd, today’s acts:

  • Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, JD Crow & the New South, Jesse McReynolds & Virginia Boys, Newfound Road, Ralph STanley II, David Parmley & Continental Divide, Tommy Brown & County Line Grass, Wildwood Valley Boys

DISCUSSION ◗ Ivy Tech-BloomingtonBreakfast Learning Series: Affordable Care Act and Its Impact on Behaviral Health Providers; 8am

LECTURE ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesArchaeology Month Series: “Stories Told in Stone: Recording Scared and Everyday Landscapes in the Shadow of the Rocky Mountains,” presented by Laura Scheiber; Noon

ART ◗ IU Grunwald GalleryExhibit opening reception, Samenwerken, collaborative, team, multimedia projects; 6pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception, The Art of Fenelia Flinn; 6-8pm

WORKSHOP ◗ Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterBuddhism in Everyday Life Series: Recognizing the Pitfalls, presented by Ani Choekye; 6:30pm

DISCUSSION ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryGlobal Issues Community Discussion Series: The Global City Phenomenon, presented by Stephanie Kane & Ron Walker; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleIndiana Boys CD release party; 7-9pm

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

ART ◗ IU SoFA McCalla School Installation, “in transit, or to be moving to always be moving and to not stop moving,” presented by The Fuller Projects; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “Don Giovanni;” 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBottom Road Blues Band; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoMonika Herzig and Carolyn Dutton; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial UnionUB Films: “The Amazing Spiderman;” 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Chateau Thomas Wine BarDylan Carroll; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Palace Theatre of Brown CountyClassic Country Jukebox, starring Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdHairbangers Ball; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Sleepwalking with Me;” 9:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopR-Juna, You’re A Liar, The Proforms; 10 pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceMerrie and Her Mighty Men; 11pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial UnionUB Films: “The Amazing Spiderman;”11pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “The Bolognese School,” by Annibale & Agostino Carracci, through September 16th
  • “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, Opening September 21st

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit:

  • Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection;” through September 21st

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:


“Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.” — Salman Rushdie


Before we say anything else, let’s agree that every nation and culture is weird, bizarre, inane, ludicrous, and so on until we run out of adjectives.

Some Middle East cultures force their women to cover their faces. Ultra orthodox Jews practice Kapparot around the high holidays, wherein a person (okay, a man) reads Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24, then grasps a live chicken and swings it over his head, thereby transferring his sins to the soul of the chicken. Emmis (Yiddish: the truth.)


Here’s more. Many subcontinent Indians still practice dowry wherein the family of a girl child must sell home or land or even go into crushing debt to fork over a pile of rupees to the family of the girl’s future husband.

People in the town of Phuket in Thailand celebrate their annual Vegetarian Festival by sticking knives and spears through their cheeks and other penetrable parts of their bodies.

Some Somalians girls still undergo female circumcision, which is a palatable way of say clitoridectomy, which itself is a palatable way of saying those people are jerks

Many Mongolians refuse to pee in the direction of the rising or setting sun, fearing the act would demonstrate disrespect toward the holy orb.

Hey, Point That Thing The Other Way!

Under Bubi law, people of different social classes in Equatorial Guinea are forbidden from eating together.

Before we start patting ourselves on the back a little too much, remember Americans value the gun over all other items and concepts mentioned in our Constitution.

We also drive to the gym to workout.

We consume more calories and fats than any other peoples in the history of the Earth, yet an alarming percentage of us still suffer malnutrition.

Starvation Diet

America is the most technologically and educationally advanced nation of all time, yet many folks in this holy land believe the Earth is 6000 years old and that angels hover around us, making sure safes don’t fall on our heads.

So we, too, are kinky beyond all reason.

I was reminded of this by a report on NPR this morning. It was part of StoryCorps, which I usually try to ignore, being constitutionally incapable of caring about whether some husband and wife I don’t know are in love with each other. It is the definitive emotional porn, which is inferior to sexual porn in that the latter at least has a payoff in the end.

Anyway, today’s Story Corps deals with a teacher who describes his first few days at Chicago’s notorious Marshall High School, which is to secondary education what Stateville Correctional Center is to charm school.

Marshall kids get killed by stray bullets with alarming regularity. Many a Marshall teacher considers the day a success when no student flings a shiv at her. The next time the name Shakespeare is bandied about in Marshall’s halls will be the first time in a long time.


The teacher, a fellow named Tyrese Graham, says that on his first day at the school, he tried to get his class to quiet down. One student, according to Graham, shouted out that he musn’t know what the fuck school he was at.

Another student asked who the fuck he thought he was.


Graham goes on to recount the first funeral of a student he had to attend. A young man had been shot in the head by a drive-by shooter aiming at someone else. The dead boy’s mother also was hit in the arm. Graham says he did his best to present a strong front but eventually broke down and sobbed in the funeral parlor.


He says he wondered what the hell he was getting himself into that first week on the job. He promised himself he’d get through one year and then get out. But Graham eventually learned to love the place. He calls it more than a job. “[Y]ou’re dedicating your life to this,” he says.

Now, that’s a hell of a story, one every citizen of these Great United States, Inc. should hear.

It’s a hell of a lot more meaningful than the typical StoryCorps piece about someone’s grandmother falling in love as a young girl.

Anyway, here’s the bizarre part. Before the story ran, the announcer issued a warning — there will be language, she said, that may be offensive to some people.

Clearly, she was referring to the F-bombs mentioned above. Now it gets really psychotic: the F-bombs were bleeped out. Even the online version of the story ran the word [expletive] rather than the original spoken word.

In other words, you might be offended by not hearing the strong language. Your ears and sensibilities might be so fragile that the mere thought of the dirty word would ruin your day.

Not of course, the idea that high school kids are getting their brains blown out or even that the typical Marshall class is as docile as a pack of hyenas.

No. The F-bomb — or, rather, the very idea of it — might boil your blood.

Man. We are one nation of weirdos under god.


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Who else?

The Pencil Today:


“Rock and roll music, the music of freedom, frightens people and unleashes all manner of conservative defense mechanisms.” — Salman Rushdie


I’ve no doubt the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a fine bunch of lads, serious about their music, and ambitious.

I’m also certain that their fans listen to them late into the night on their iPods and other mp3 devices, and are transported to that special place that only music can take them to.

But are they really Rock and Roll Hall of Famers?

Same question for Guns ‘N Roses.

Guns N’ Roses

Where, I wonder, is the cut off? Who’s the singer/songwriter or band that is fairly good but not quite transcendent enough to be included in the pantheon?

Does anyone even take this the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously?

Apparently, not everyone. Axl Rose and Rod Stewart decided being enshrined in this Valhalla wasn’t worth even hopping a plane into Cleveland to participate in the festivities Sunday night.

The following bands, solo acts, sidemen, and execs made up the 2012 induction list:

  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Donovan
  • Laura Nyro
  • The Small Faces/Faces

Small Faces

  • Beastie Boys
  • The Crickets
  • The Famous Flames
  • The Midnighters
  • The Comets

The Comets (Standing)

  • The Blue Caps
  • The Miracles
  • Freddie King
  • Don Kirschner
  • Cosimo Matassa
  • Tom Dowd
  • Glyn Johns

By my calculations, that’s a grand total of 69 people earning the highest honor, presumably, that can be bestowed upon a rock and roll artist.

Again, that’s 69 people. In one single year.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as of today is bursting at the seams with more than 700 people being given a bust or a plaque or whatever they do at the place to show that the honorees are truly and honestly one-of-a-kind.

Trust me on this — I counted the names and, while I suppose I skipped some and probably double-counted others, I’ll bet the deed to Chez Big Mike that the +700 figure is correct.

Among the honorees since inductions began 26 years ago are Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, ABBA, Miles Davis, Brenda Lee, the Staples Singers, the Bee Gees, Elton John, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, and Ray Charles, the lot of which proves that the term rock and roll has absolutely no meaning at all.

The only people missing from the RNR HoF are the likes of Mantovani, Styx, Bread, Vanilla Ice, Jessica Simpson, Susan Boyle, and Paris Hilton (yes, she recorded an album.)

I am certain Justin Bieber one day will be welcomed into the hallowed hall.

Of course, I’m exaggerating by dragging Styx and Susan Boyle into this thing. It’s really not that any of the aforementioned RNR HoF-ers are necessarily bad or untalented. (Although I’m deadly serious about Justine Bieber being inducted one day.)

It’s just that the whole exercise seems to me to be a Baby Boomer celebration of self. If the Boomers heard it, then it was rock and roll. If you’d made a recording at any time after World War II, you’re a rock and roller and and we have a special palace for you, designed by I.M. Pei and costing $22 to visit.

The Shrine

The name of the place shouldn’t be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum but The Stuff We Listened To (Because We Grew Our Hair Long And Changed The World And Invented Sex And Were The First People Ever To Have Kids) Hall of Fame.

It’s little wonder why succeeding generations loathe the Boomers.

I’m a Boomer and I loathe us.


As long as I’m on the topic, here’s my list of some of the worst RNR-era songs of all time:

We Built This City, The Starship — Clearly, by the time this song hit the charts hallucinogens had turned the members of the original Jefferson Airplane into soulless, empty shells.

I Will Do Anything for Love, Meat Loaf — Yes, it’s a bad song but I include it here mainly because one critic wrote of him: “This is the man who acted like he was playing Zeppelin but was singing Cher.”

Cher Lite

Believe, Cher — My late pal Tim said this song was played every night in every gay bar in every city in the world since it was released; he added that if he heard it one more time, he’d take hostages.

Sussudio, Phil Collins — This man defined the 80s almost as much as Ronald Reagan did. And that ain’t good.

Kokomo, The Beach Boys — Brian Wilson was a genius but when he left the Beach Boys they became right wing tools and more boring than being in a coma.

Mickey, Toni Basil — Cheerleaders? At least she was in “Village of the Giants.”

Babe, Styx — The ferryman Charon escorted the souls of the dead down the river Styx to the underworld of Greek mythology, also known as Hades. Or, as we refer to it, hell.

Heart of Rock and Roll, Huey Lewis & the News — How many weddings do you think this was played at?

(Man, this is fun!)

Ebony and Ivory, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney — And…

Say, Say, Say, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney — My least favorite Beatle. Clearly, John Lennon had a beneficial effect on Paul. Pairing him up with MJ and Stevie only brought out the excess saccharin in both parties, leaving a bitter taste in the listener’s mouth.

Critical Mass

Afternoon Delight, Starland Vocal Band — So, it’s a song about getting laid between the hours of noon and six — problem is, it’s neither sexy nor romantic. It’s more like an iced tea mix jingle.

Feelings, Morris Alpert — Insulin, stat!

Winchester Cathedral, The New Vaudeville Band — Dig this: The Beatles released the “Revolver” album in 1966 featuring such amazing songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which might have been the first psychedelic hit and included George Harrison’s overdubbed, backward-tracking guitar work. And the Beach Boys released the single “Good Vibrations,” a follow-up to the “Pet Sounds” album and Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” “Good Vibrations” was described as a “pocket symphony” and could be called the first progressive rock song. But this lump of fewmets won the Grammy award for Best Rock and Roll Recording. That’s downright weird.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree, Tony Orlando & Dawn — Duh.

We Are the World, USA for Africa — If only an asteroid would hit it.

Target: Earth

Whoomp! (There It Is), Tag Team — This song ruined just about every sporting event throughout the 90s.

Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler — Oh, shut up.

You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone — One question for right wingers like Pat Boone: What’s wrong with birth control?

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers — What in the holy hell does haverin‘ mean?

Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus — When I first heard this, I though this man couldn’t possibly create anything that could make the country suffer more terribly — then he sired Miley.

MMM-Bop, Hanson — Every time I saw this video, all I could think of were all the really creepy old men watching it too.

Convoy, C.W. McCall — Thankfully, no one ever made a hit song about Pet Rocks or Rubik’s Cube or an annoying dance step…, oh, wait….

Macarena, Los Del Rio

I’m Too Sexy, Right Said Fred — Um, er, uh….

Too Sexy?

U Can’t Touch This, MC Hammer — Took a cool Rick James riff and spoiled it.

My Humps, Black Eyed Peas — These people are just wrong.

Morning Train, Sheena Easton — She hit it big with this suburban housewife anthem and then got splashed with Prince luv and became a bad little girl. She has “taken a break from recording” of late.

The Candy Man, Sammy Davis Jr. — Diabetes.

Can I Touch You… There?, Michael Bolton — Ick, no!

I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston — F. Murray Abraham once did a dead-on impression of Whitney singing this song on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

If You Could Read My Mind, Gordon Lightfoot — This man could have been an anesthesiologist and never would have had to use a drug.

Okay, your turn. Either throw in some songs I haven’t thought of or tell me how wrong I am.

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