Category Archives: Scott Russell Sanders

Hot Air

By The Book

A quick one today because I was very lazy this AM and then I had my regular afternoon book writin’ session with Charlotte Zietlow. BTW: The Zietlow memoir is coming along fabulously. We’re working on her 1974 campaign for US Congress right now. Phew — 41 years ago — Charlotte looked like a kid, for pity’s sake!

Here’s a sneak preview of some pix I’ve taken of items from her vast treasure trove of files and images:

Window Card

 

Window Card

Tri-fold Pamphlet

Tri-fold Pamphlet

H-T Front Page

Good News, Bad News

In the above Herald-Telephone piece, Charlotte is anointed the coming star of the Democratic Party in Indiana because she ran such a strong campaign against well-known state senator Elden Tipton. She’d only decided to run in February for the May primary and whupped the bejesus out of four other Dems, including Mayor Frank McCloskey’s chosen candidate.

Man, this stuff is fun.

Sanders Speaks

Bloom magazine threw its second Book Club bash yesterday evening at FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge. Just like the first one, featuring author Michael Koryta, last night’s soiree packed the house.

Scott Russell Sanders talked about how he came to write Divine Animal, the book selected by Bloom boss Malcolm Abrams. Frankly, I haven’t read it yet — my queue of books is about as tall as Sally the Dog standing on Steve the Dog’s head. But believe me, Divine Animal‘s in the stack now.

The audience peppered Sanders with Qs for a good hour and a half. He explained precisely when and where he got the idea for the book, how the characters came to him, and his process for letting the characters tell their stories to him before he writes them all down.

This Bloom mag Book Club is the atom bomb, I’m telling you.

You wanna get in on the next one? Okay. The third Book Club selection is Young Titan, a biography of a youthful Winston Churchill penned by Bloomington’s own top-notch Anglophile, Michael Shelden. We’ve got a big order in at the Book Corner so you can start buying it later this week. So far, our two best selling titles for 2015 have been Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead and Divine Animal. We oughtta pay Malcolm a salary.

The meeting for Young Titan will be Tuesday, June 9, 5:30pm, at Finch’s Brasserie.

Here are some snapshots from last night’s get-together:

Abrams/Sanders

Malcolm Abrams (L) & Scott Russell Sanders

Here’s something I hadn’t known: A teenaged Sanders had a choice between studying physics at Brown University or accepting a basketball scholarship at another school. He chose physics, natch.

Karr/Stoll

Author Julia Karr & Her Friend, Caren Stoll

Karr just finished writing the first draft of the last book in her Young Adult trilogy featuring teen Nina Oberon and her travails in a near-future dystopia. Book one was entitled XVI (or Sixteen, for those of you who don’t recognize Roman numerals) and its sequel was Truth. The third has no title yet; Karr’s only begun revisions and corrections within the last few days.

Sanders

Sanders Tells His Tale

The title of Sanders’ book comes from a line written by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay, “The Poet.” Emerson’s line reads:

As the traveller who has lost his way, throws his reins on his horse’s neck, and trusts to the instinct of the animal to find his road, so must we do with the divine animal who carries us through this world.

Sanders & Fans

Sanders Chats With Fans

Alright, get going on Young Titan.

Hot Air

A Declaration

Y’know, it’s a damned shame I have to do this but considering the state of our bizarre, regressive, antediluvian, smug, arrogant state I have no choice.

Declaration

That last line, BTW, was originally written If you don’t like this, fuck you. Then I figured it’d be a tad more civilized the way it ended up. My original sentiment stands, though.

A Bold, Moral Stance

Kudos to the editors and publisher of the Indianapolis Star. Today’s front page is groundbreaking, even monumental.

Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s a welcome departure from the careerist, too-cautious, phony-baloney objectivity that characterizes corporate news media these days (with the exception of the amorally subversive Fox News).

Indy Star 20150331

 

Click Image To Read Complete Editorial

 

Let’s recognize the people who made this happen:

  • President and publisher Karen Ferguson
  • Editor and vice president Jeff Taylor
  • Editorial pages editor Tim Swarens
  • Designer Emily Kuzniar

Good job, folks!

Join The Club

A quick reminder: The second meeting of the Bloom magazine Book Club happens late this afternoon, 5:30pm, at FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge.

Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders will read from his latest, the novel Divine Animal, and will answer questions. The Pencil will be there, too. You don’t even need to have read the book. Just come to hear the author speak and rub shoulders with people who dig reading.

More Word-y Stuff

The southern half of Indiana boasts a second, beloved independent bookstore down by the Ohio River in Madison. Friends of Bloomington’s own Book Corner, Village Lights Bookstore props. Nathan Montoya and Anne Vestuto have been peddling new and used tomes since 2008 in the picturesque river town.

The two also stage Poetpalooza, an annual bash for local and regional versifiers. This year’s event takes place Friday and Saturday and will include readings by former Poets Laureate Norbert Krapf of Indiana as and Maureen Morehead and Richard Taylor of Kentucky. B-ton’s Tony Brewer will pound out Poetry on Demand on his old-school typewriter throughout the course of the affair.

Brewer

Tony Brewer Loads His Smith-Corona

Here’s the 2015 Poetpalooza schedule:

Friday, April 3

  • 5:00pm Open Mic Kick-Off Emceed by Alex Acosta (IN) & Harlan Kelly (IN)
  • 6:00pm Tom C. Hunley (KY)
  • 6:30pm Barbara Sabol (OH)
  • 7:00pm Bianca Bargo (KY)
  • 8:00pm Book Launch “Black Achilles” by Curtis Crisler (IN)
  • 8:30pm Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (KY)
  • 9:00pm Film Screening “Proud Citizen”

Saturday, April 4

  • 10:00am Book Launch “The Work of the Body” by Jill Kelly Koren (IN)
  • 11:00am Maureen Morehead, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2011-2012
  • 12:00pm Norbert Krapf, Indiana Poet Laureate, 2008-2010
  • 1:00pm Tom C. Hunley (KY)
  • 1:30pm Barbara Sabol (OH)
  • 2:00pm Gerry Grubbs (OH)
  • 3:00pm Nettie Farris (IN)
  • 4:00pm Richard Taylor, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2011-2012
  • 5:00pm Frederick Smock (KY)
  • 6:00pm Curtis Crisler (IN)
  • 6:30pm Katerina Stoykova-Klemer (KY)
  • 7:00pm Book Launch “Eavesdropping in Plato’s Café” by Jack Ramey (IN)
  • 8:00pm The Reservoir Dogwoods (IN) — Jason Ammerman, Tony Brewer, Matthew D. Jackson, Joseph Kirschbaum
  • 9:00pm Film Screening “Proud Citizen”

It’s a two-hour car ride from Bloomington to Madison via SR 46 and SR7 (catch it at Columbus). The view is delightful as you enter the Ohio River Valley, though, so make it a neat day trip.

Four Dead In O-Hi-O

It’s been 45 years since four young anti-war protesters were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus.

Kent State became a touchstone term for a generation. It might well have been the most dramatic salvo in a general violent uprising — one that never really took place for a variety of reasons, many of which remain hidden or willfully unexamined to this day. A careful reading of the history of this holy land between the years 1954, when the US Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of the Topeka, Kansas, school district, and the January 27, 1973 treaty ending American involvement in Vietnam shows a nation perilously close to a second Civil War.

Kent State

Protesters Take Cover As Shots Ring Out (Image: Reuters)

PBS will air a new documentary, Kent State — The Day the ’60s Died Tuesday, April 28th, at 8pm. Documentary production company Room 608 Inc. and PBS also will release the 60-minute film on DVD. The program is part of a week of specials airing on PBS to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of our nation’s Vietnam War.

One more thing: Kent State gets all the ink and the attention but a mere 11 days later, Jackson police and Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers opened fire, killing two and wounding 12 students at Jackson State University. The campus, like hundreds of others across the nation, had been roiled by anti-war and civil rights protests that spring. Back in 1970, though, the killing of black students was deemed not as newsworthy as that of whites by the then-mainstream news media.

Things change, natch, even as they stay the same.

Hot Air

Cue The Kazoos

I was too lazy to attend the debate between the three Democratic candidates for mayor last night at IU’s Neal Marshall Black Culture Center. John Linnemeier, John Hamilton, and Darryl Neher sat together on stage without a brawl breaking out in the first of several such panels between now and the primary May 5th.

[View The Pencil’s schedule of debates and forums here.]

The Herald Times this AM reported on a rather dull affair with the three offering the obligatory array of political positions including their four-square backing of good government, honesty, and sunny spring days.

The frontrunners, Hamilton and Neher, have so little to separate themselves, philosophically and politically, that the danger exists whomever succumbs first to desperation will turn this race personal. Hamilton already has (gently) hammered on Neher’s transformation from Republican to Democrat. Last night Neher pointed out that five Hamilton underlings were convicted of swiping $1.6 million in taxpayer dough when H. was in former Indiana Guv Frank O’Bannon’s cabinet.

Personal to Hamilton and Neher: Don’t go there. Bloomington’s voters will turn quickly against anyone who engages in negative campaigning this cycle. See, nobody in the general public is so madly in love with either of you that they’ll forgive destructive mudslinging. Just my unsolicited advice.

Coats Leaving The Cloakroom

So, who wants to be the new junior United States Senator from Indiana now that Dan Coats is hanging up his Republican buckle-hat and breeches?

  • Todd Young?
  • Baron Hill?
  • Shelli Yoder?
  • Evan Bayh?
  • Richard Mourdock?

Altered Movie Poster

Well, maybe not Richard Mourdock, although America is noted for shocking second acts (Richard Nixon, Marion Barry, and ABBA, for examples). But how about these names, mentioned by The Hill, the daily hardcopy and online newspaper covering Congress?

A Luke Messer spokesgeek sez the 6th Dist. Republican US Congressbeing isn’t hep to the idea of running at this moment, The Hill also reports.

Tom LoBianco of the Indy Star adds these names:

LoBianco feels that Bayh, Mourdock, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz aren’t worth writing about in terms of the upcoming race.

Politico‘s Kyle Cheney does a thorough job of vetting Evan Bayh’s mindset as the seat comes open. Cheney figures there’s no chance Bayh — even with his $10 million war chest — will run.

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz of Indy Politics drops Bosma, Young, Stutzman, and Rokita’s names — adding Holcomb’s almost as an afterthought.

Coats so far is the third US Senator to announce he won’t run in 2016, joining Dems Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) in the glue factory line.

Be Divine

Hey, you’ve only got six more days to read Scott Russell Sanders’ new novel, Divine Animal. The current selection of the Bloom magazine Book Club, Divine… has been flying off the Book Corner‘s shelves.

Malcolm Abrams’ brainchild was a smashing success the first time around with Bloomington author Michael Koryta packing the house at Oliver Winery on the Square in February. Koryta’s Those Who Wish Me Dead was the Book Club’s first selection.

Sanders will read from his book and answer questions Tuesday, March 31st, 5:30pm, at FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge. My advice? Get there early.

Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders

BTW, poet extraordinaire and IU Creative Writing prof. Ross Gay told me yesterday that Sanders — back when he was still teaching keyboard clacking there — was a terrific influence on a lot of young scribes, the tall versifier included. “Every time I’d see him in the hallway, he’d have something nice or encouraging to say,” Gay remembers.

Keep in mind encouragement is worth its weight in gold to an aspiring writer, especially considering careerists in that field see very little gold in their lifetimes.

Hot Air

Blockbuster

Looks like Malcolm Abrams is a genius with his Bloom Magazine Book Club idea. Not only did his event with Michael Koryta pack the house earlier this month, the club’s current selection, Scott Russell Sanders, looks to be just as successful — maybe even more so.

Bloomingtonians have wiped out the Book Corner‘s stock of Sanders’ Divine Animal, the title BMBC participants will discuss at the club’s meeting next month in FARM Bloomington’s Root Cellar Lounge. Book Corner honcho Margaret Taylor flashed an urgent message yesterday afternoon directing me to order dozens more copies and so I have.

If I know Scott, he’ll be lugging a carton of …Animals in on his shoulder first thing tomorrow morning. “Malcolm’s book club is a boon to the community — and to writers,” Sanders says.

Sanders

Sanders

So, don’t worry — if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, amble on by. That is, if you have the fortitude to amble in these godawful frigid conditions.

The Bloom Book Club gathering featuring Sanders will be Tuesday, March 31st, at 5:30pm.

Self-Loathing

A lot of women out there must hate their vaginas. That’s the only conclusion I can come to after reading “The 6 Weirdest Things Women Do to Their Vaginas” in Mother Jones online.

So, here’s what enough sisters do to their nethers to make the vaginal-cosmetic-industrial complex swim in billions:

  • They use vaginal deodorants

Vaginal Spray

Um, I Think Her Aim Is A Bit Off

  • They douche
  • They get their vaginas tightened by plastic surgeons
  • They get their labia sculpted by plastic surgeons
  • They put mints in their vaginas to make them smell and taste better
  • They get their labia bleached and dyed

BTW: Those mints? They’re branded for vaginal use but, Mother Jones reports, the mints — called Linger, the “internal feminine flavoring system” — aren’t all that different from candy. Which, the mag reminds us, is hard, dissolvable sugar. And which, MJ warns, is a formula for a monster yeast infection.

BTW II: A few years ago I came upon the startling discovery that there are scads of women in this mad, mad, mad, mad world who get their anuses bleached. So vaginal lip bleaching would seem to be a natural outgrowth from that creative craft. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a lover out of my bed for having the wrong color anus or vagina. Some people!

[h/t to Tanisha Caravello]

Uh, I’ll Have Three Wit’ Everything, Man

If a fiction writer came up with this scenario s/he’d either be laughed out of the business or declared a mad genius.

Superdawg is one of my beloved hometown of Chicago’s most well-known hot dog joints. I cannot adequately describe the humongous snap-skin wienee in a steamed poppy seed bun, surrounded by crispy crinkle-cut french fries, accompanied, of course, by a chocolate malt so think the straw can stand up in it indefinitely.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I type this.

Superdawg

Anyway, the great state o’Illinois is considering allowing medical marijuana clinics to open up therein and just take a wild guess where one of them might be. Yeah, that’s right, directly across the street from Superdawg!

Superdawg’s owner, Scott Berman, should be up for Businessperson of the Year based on this quote alone:

We’re in favor of anything that brings customers to the area. This will help people. I see it no differently than a doctor’s office or dentist’s office opening there.

Next time you’re in Chi., take a spin up to Superdawg and give Berman your business.

Sometimes life is indeed good.

[h/t to John Spencer Bergman]

To Your Health

One of my fave cocktails is vodka with V8 juice. See, I get 1 cup of vegetables with an 8-ounce serving. It’s really health food.

Vodka & V8

Hot Air

Book ‘Em

Like any impresario, Malcolm Abrams was nervous. He was hoping to put on a big show Monday night and he worried he’d have an empty house.

Abrams created the Bloom Magazine Book Club a couple of months ago and tabbed Those Who Wish Me Dead its first selection. Written by native son Michael Koryta, Those... is yet another booming bestseller from the keyboard of the crime/fantasy author. Still, Abrams wondered if anybody’d show up at Oliver Winery on the Square for the first meeting of the club.

Sure, Koryta was scheduled to read from his book and the young, smart, good-looking scribe ought to have been a draw. But Abrams knows there are no guarantees in any business. “I hope people show up,” he said to me last week.

Oh, people showed up. The first gathering of the BMBC packed the house. Abrams told me yesterday he and his staff had to keep on adding chairs for late arrivals until the crowd nearly squeezed Koryta off the stage. And Bloomington, natch, loved him.

“He only read for about ten minutes,” Abrams said. “The rest of the time was all questions and answers. He was very gracious. Everybody had a good time.”

Abrams can relax now.

The next selection of the Bloom Magazine Book Club is Scott Russell Sanders‘ latest book, Divine Animal. A woman bounded into the Book Corner around noon yesterday and announced, breathlessly, that she’d been at the Koryta show the night before. “It was fabulous,” she said. She wanted to get her hands on the Sanders novel before we sold out. Turns out her instincts were correct; she got the last copy we had.

Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders (Union University photo)

I put in an urgent message to Sanders, begging him to please, please, please get us as many copies of Divine… as he could. Next thing I knew — well, about an hour later — here came Scott Russell Sanders lugging a case of books in on his shoulder. And every one of those copies is signed.

The next meeting of the BMBC is Tuesday, March 31st, 5:30pm, at the Root Cellar Lounge of FARM Bloomington. You’d better get there early unless you want to be sitting with Sanders on stage.

Decisions, Decisions

Talked to one B-ton citizen the other day who says s/he’s going for Darryl Neher.

Why?

“It’s a gut thing,” this person says. Apparently, Neher’s opponent, John Hamilton, had phoned this person and asked for her/his endorsement. The person told him s/he hadn’t made a choice yet. Hamilton, acc’d’g to this citizen, then said, “Whatever you do, don’t make an endorsement before calling me. Call me first! Talk to me before you do anything.”

Hamilton’s tone was so insistent, this person says, that s/he was put off him. “I don’t want a used car salesman, using high pressure tactics on me,” s/he says.

Hamilton

Go Ahead, Take It For A Spin

Hmm. It’s funny; John Hamilton usually seems like such a mild-mannered fellow. Then again, people around town whisper in my ear that the person’s story is quite in keeping with what they know about the second-time aspirant for the Dem mayoral nomination. The question: Is this trait a good or bad thing?

That said, there’s still not a hair’s difference between Neher and Hamilton when it comes to their stances on social issues.

Another Bloomington observer tells me whoever wins the Democratic primary (and, therefore, the general election) will bring refreshing new work habits to the City Hall mayor’s office. “At least,” this other person says, “he’ll show up occasionally.”

I’m already scheduled to sit in on a Neher house party, which I’ll report on. I’m still trying to weasel my way into a Hamilton soiree. Stay tuned.

The Rules Of The Game

The national title won by Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League All-Stars has been vacated. Jackie Robinson West copped the flag in 2014 in a memorable lead up the the international Little League World Series. The team’s story was tailor-made for a movie script.

JRW was the first all-black team to win the American title. It was the story of kids who’d grown up in hard-scrabble neighborhoods achieving a rare triumph and glory. Denzel Washington surely would have played some role in any potential film about that dream season.

JRW

Fans Cheer At A JRW Watch Party In August, 2014

But one of the team’s local rivals, the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, was led by a man who watched JRW advance through the tournament and seethed. Acc’d’g to this fellow, Chris Janes, JRW was using players from outside its precisely drawn eligibility boundaries. He screeched about it to the sport’s governing body, Little League International. Officials there at first waved him off, buying JRW’s assertions that kids had what seemed to be addresses in violation of eligibility requirements due to divorce and other family fractures.

Janes kept the pressure on until yesterday when the LLI finally relented and stripped the team of its title. And so “justice” has been done.

I can’t express my displeasure any clearer than my pal, the crusading attorney Jerry Boyle, has stated his:

It’s like everything else in this society. When they finally get their turn, all of a sudden the rules are strictly enforced.

Amen.

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