Category Archives: Samuel Beckett

The Pencil Today:


“He had seen me several times, and had intended to call on me long before, but a peculiar combination of circumstances had prevented it.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, from “The Great Gatsby


Perhaps the most touching obit yet for the beloved Sophia Travis comes from Monroe County Democratic Party boss Rick Dietz.

It was Dietz’ unhappy task to break the news of Travis’ passing to party loyalists Thursday.

Here is his statement in its entirety:


I have sad news that I can barely bring myself to write. Last night Sophia Travis passed away.

Sophia was a dear friend, a community leader, a creative & musical spirit, and a caring mother & wife. Sophia had suffered since early in the year from an undiagnosed heart-related condition and had just returned from the Cleveland Clinic where she, Greg and young Finnegan had traveled for care.

Sophia personified kindness — a dense gravitation kindness — and wielded a gentle strength that could move mountains. And move all those around her. And did many times over.

There are times when one wonders how this world can just keep turning with loss after loss we can hardly bear. Please keep Finnegan, Greg and all of Sophia’s family and friends in your thoughts today.


“Where I am, I don’t know. I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” — Samuel Beckett

People all around me are walking around in a dazed state in the wake of the news. Such a shame that I never had the chance to meet Sophia Travis. I’d heard about her seemingly constantly whenever the conversation would turn to the arts, politics, community service, and just life in this town itself. Apparently, Sophia was one of those rare folks who simply personify a place.

Lesson: If you want to meet someone, do it now. The opportunity may be lost forever at any time.


Overheard at Soma Coffee this morning:

[Two people are talking about treasures they’ve found at flea markets and yard sales.]

Man: “Back in June, I found a 1908 Hamilton Beach vibrator at a yard sale.”

Woman: “What? Really? You mean a personal satisfaction device? Is there such a thing or did I just invent a new term?”

Man: “A PSD, hmm.”

[The woman looks up the device online.]

Woman: “Here’s an ad for this thing. [Reading] ‘Very useful and satisfactory for home service.’ That’s it. From a hundred years ago. Actually, more than that.”

Man: “Home service.”

Woman: “Home service.”

An ad from 1908, huh? More proof there’s little new under the sun.


Hell, I’ve been saying this all along:


Do not miss the Shouts & Murmurs column in this week’s New Yorker.

Writer Jack Hitt aggregates a dung heap of misquotes, faulty interpretations, and outright lies uttered by some of the Republican Party’s finest examples of humanity regarding the history of this holy land.

He takes these fictions and creates a timeline of America, according to those who tend to believe that Barack Obama is a Kenyan, Indonesian, Russian, Muslim, Communist patsy/stooge or that just saying no will magically end drug abuse and teen pregnancy.

Among the revelations the Republications have foisted upon their ovine faithful are:

  • 56 men, “mostly clergymen,” signed the Declaration of Independence
  • Blacks made up much of the fighting force of the Confederate States of America
  • John Kerry shot himself
  • Bill & Hillary Clinton were personally responsible for more than 80 political murders

Okay, so we’ve outlawed literacy tests, poll taxes, and other obstacles to voting. But what about a sanity test?

I’m all for it.

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.


Saturday, September 22nd, 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
  • Deolinda; 8:45pm
  • Karen Casey & John Doyle with the Vallely Bros.; 10:30pm

First United Methodist Church:

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

Ivy Tech Tent:

  • Panorama Jazz Band; 7pm
  • Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird; 8:45pm
  • Delhi 2 Dublin; 10:30pm

IU Tent:

  • MC Rai; 7pm
  • Canteca de Macao; 8:45pm
  • Movits!; 10:30pm

First Presbyterian Church:

  • May Monday; 7pm
  • Keith Terry & Evie Ladin; 8:45pm
  • Trio Brasileiro; 10:30pm

Jake’s Nightclub:

  • Fishtank Ensemble; 7:30pm
  • Taj Weekes & Adowa; 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:

  • Dr. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Paul Williams & the Victory Trio, JD CRowe & the New South, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, Larry Stephenson Band, Tommy Brown & the County Line Grass, Don Stanley & Middle Creek

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

WORKSHOP & RETREAT ◗ Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural CenterWhat Is Natural — And What Seems To Go Against Nature?,” led by Ani Choekye; 10am-4:30pm

WINE & MUSIC ◗ Oliver WineryHarvest Wine Festival, wine-tasting, tour of the vineyard, and live performances:

  • Monika Herzig; Noon-2pm
  • Not Too Bad Bluegrass Band; 2:30-4:30pm
  • Jon Strahl Band; 5-7pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Sleepwalking with Me;” 3pm

FOOD & MUSIC ◗ First Presbyterian Church of Bloomington — 3rd Annual Eat Around the Equator, dishes from Nicaragua, performances by Don’t Call Me Betty, Evan Main & Stefan Lenthe, Hank Ruff; 4-6:30pm

WINE & MUSIC ◗ Owen Valley Winery, SpencerMusic in the Graden Series: The Davis Harlow Project; 5-8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “The Imposter;” 6:15pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Old Dog;” 6:30pm

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

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleLittle Merrie Simmons, 7-9pm

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

MUSIC ◗ Bloomington High School NorthBloomington Symphony Orchestra presents “Mustaches & Melodies,” compositions by Brahms, Fauré, & Dvorak; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Brown County Playhouse, NashvilleFred Jones Band, Shelflife; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeXoe Wise; 7:30-8:30pm

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

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall Theater Ryder Film Series: “Marina Abramovic: The Artists Is Present;” 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubGordon Bonham Blues Band; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoPost Modern Jazz Quartet; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Palace Theatre of Brown CountyConcert saluting the 60th anniversary of Sun Records, starring Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band; 8pm

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

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceIndiana Boys, White Lightning Boys; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls;” 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Bear’s PlaceUp Draft, Text Auction; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdMain Squeeze; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDinosaur Feathers, Shark, Firemoose; 9pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Neighboring Sounds;” 9:30pm

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

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

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The Electron Pencil:


“Astronomers. like burglars and jazz musicians, operate best at night.” — Miles Kington


If you’re a space geek and an early riser here in Bloomington (a scant club, I admit), you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the International Space Station over the next couple of weeks.

With the late sunrises at this time of year the sky remains dark even after some of us unlucky souls are planted at our desks, casting dirty looks at our fellow miserable coworkers. But if you’re alert and can spare the energy to look upward you can see the mighty ISS shooting overhead between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30am.

Here’s NASA’s schedule of sightings from Bloomington:

The ISS is home to a half dozen astronauts: three Russkies, three brave and handsome Americans, and one Japanese. Sorta neat how Russian and American spaceguys (and gals on occasion) are now cooperating for long months aboard an orbiting laboratory, isn’t it?

The International Space Station At Sunrise

This is especially so considering that the true aim of each country’s space program back in the 1950s and very early ’60s was the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Eventually, thousands of ICBMs were pointed at cities in the two nations for the purpose of incinerating them with thermonuclear weapons.

It’s a wonder any of us who grew up in those psycho, edgy years are even acquainted with sanity now.

For that matter, who among our parents and grandparents alive during the Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima years would have dreamed Japanese and Americans would be among the tightest of geo-political pals in the 21st Century?

Believe it or don’t, there is a bit of good in this mad, mad world.


My pals R.E. Paris and Dave Torneo and I are three of the featured writers in the Ryder magazine annual Top Ten issue.

R.E. breaks all the rules and selects some three dozen books that fascinated her and, in her learned view, are representative of trends in the publishing universe. Her choices range from the “Steve Jobs” bio by Walter Isaacson to Stephen King’s “11/22/63,” an alternative history that supposes John F. Kennedy had survived his wounds on the eponymous date, and to the Islamic fairytale graphic novel, “Habibi.”

Dave, one of the most serious readers I know, writes about his ten best books of the year. He actually read the 800-page “Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956.” Man, Beckett probably kept the Royal Mail in the black all by himself. Torneo also dug Teju Cole’s “Open City” and Ross Gay’s “Bringing the Shovel Down.”


Me? I pointed my smart-assed knives at the city and state’s elective office holders, pricking the top ten political stories of the year. (And, yes, the pun is intentional, on three levels). By happy coincidence, one of my top stories is Bloomington’s rewriting of its gun laws to coincide with Indiana’s. I note that it is now legal to pack heat in the Monroe County Public Library.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Guns N’ Books

Anyway, pick up the Ryder this month or you’ll be woefully ignorant for the rest of the year.


A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

◗ Special educator extraordinaire Erin Wager-Miller directs our attention to movie hunk George Clooney’s take on the difference between the two parties in this holy land. The Dems, Clooney feels, can’t sell themselves as well as the Republicans.

Here’s a closeup of the quote:


Eric Burdon & The Animals‘ 1968 song was not about the elation of soaring through almost unimaginable altitudes (which I’d thought when I first heard it as a 12-year-old). It was an anti-war polemic about a military chaplain in Vietnam who blesses a unit of soldiers preparing to go out into the jungle for an overnight raid.

Now, nearly half a century later, we still pay military chaplains to sprinkle holy water on men and women to go out to kill and be killed. And, just as in Vietnam, this nation’s bosses still can’t give us valid reasons why in the hell they’re doing it.

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