Category Archives: Sinclair Lewis

The Pencil Today:


“Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue.” — Sinclair Lewis, Babbit, Ch. 6


A number of people asked me yesterday morning if I was going to attend the Karl Rove smut-fest at the IU Auditorium.

Rove was the lightning rod. The event was billed as a sort of colloquy between the one-time “rat fucker” and evil genius behind George W. Bush’s presidency and Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s former mouthpiece, but for all the residents of this people’s republic were concerned, Gibbs would be nothing more than a bit player. The two were to dope out the 2012 Election and everybody expected a hockey game to break out.

Only no punches were thrown and the entire affair, according to observers, was rather tepid.

I wouldn’t know because I wasn’t there.

I told my interrogators yesterday morning I wasn’t going. They know I loathe Rove more than the genetic heart defect that’ll eventually kill me so they were surprised I wouldn’t grab the chance to hiss him.

Unh uh.

I didn’t go for the same reason I don’t watch TV news. It’d make me edgy. I’d fall into that old us-versus-them trick bag the corporate media loves to suck us into.

Some of this town’s most notable citizens gathered outside the Auditorium to shout at its walls how much they object to the very notion that the human species has resulted in something so vile as Karl Rove.

Tomi Allison & Charlotte Zietlow Serenade Rove

Again, that’d be a no-go for me. It plays into the show business aspect of Rove-mania. He’s not only still a mover and shaker on the political scene, but he’s the designated villain in the pro wrestling spectacle that civic debate has become. The mini-mob outside the Auditorium only heightened the buzz and sense of spectacle of the thing.

Rove’s never been accused of outright vote stealing. No, his sins are worse. He peddles tainted information. He manipulates resentments. He games the system. Rove is a diabolical archcriminal.

I wouldn’t give him a dime of my hard-earned dough even if it was just to throw rotten tomatoes at him.


You’ve heard the news that Newsweek will cease publication this year.


Newsweek actually saw fit to give Karl Rove his own weekly column after his former boss left the White House.


I wonder if the following items on the Rove resume convinced Newsweek’s editors to take him on:

In 1970, Rove, using an alias and pretending to volunteer for Alan Dixon’s reelection, gained access to the Illinois Senator’s campaign office. He worked only for a day. Actually, a mere few hours.

His sole desire was to make off with a few reams of stationary bearing the Dixon campaign letterhead. Rove then printed up phony invitations promising “free beer, free food, girls, and a good time for nothing” at an upcoming invitation-only Dixon rally. Rove then distributed the faux ducats at dive bars, flophouses, homeless shelters, and rock concerts where he sought out the scruffiest and foulest-smelling stoners.

The Dixon campaign was shocked when its rally was invaded by the rather unsavory battalion.

Rove went on to do much volunteer work for the Richard Nixon reelection campaign. He was so valuable to CREEP that Watergate prosecutors actually considered indicting him but decided not to only because he was small potatoes. His artistry in the field of dirty tricks was not yet fully honed.

For instance, working for George W. Bush in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, Rove floated the rumor that Bush’s biggest rival, John McCain, had fathered a black “love child.” McCain, at the time running ahead of Bush, suffered a surprising defeat in that state, long a bastion of racism.

Bushy & The Brain

I could fill ten posts with a laundry list of Rove violations of the public trust. Suffice it to say he’s a baddie.

So, if Newsweek wanted this brand of reprobate to pen a weekly column then it deserves to suffer a painful death.


Speaking of Right Wingers whose dark souls emit a nauseating reek, that darling of the Tory classes, Dinesh D’Souza, has gotten his bully club caught in a wringer.

Following in the tradition of Republican stalwart, Newt Gingrich, D’Souza has thrown his wife over for a younger woman.

D’Souza Goes For The Youth Market

D’Souza, who regularly wows conservative Christian audiences with his railings against the morally bankrupt liberal, secular world, has been toting around a young chickadee whom he introduces as his fiancee.

This even as D’Souza’s ever-loving wife of 20 years, Dixie, has kept the home fires warm for him.

Some observers on my side of the fence say this is typical of the hypocrisy of podium-thumping evangelicals and conservatives.


I say nonsense. In fact, I believe the whole incident proves D’Souza is philosophically consistent to a fault. His devotion to the “free market,” obviously, extends to all areas of his life.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Friday, October 19th, 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

ART ◗ Foxfire Park, NashvilleFall Fine Arts Festival; 11am-6pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Willkie AuditoriumFriday Noon Concert Series: Jeeyoon Kim on piano; Noon

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Woodburn HallKen Kewley talks about his works in the “Small Is Big” exhibit; 1pm

LECTURE ◗ IU College of Arts & Humanities — “The Myth of Host Desecration in Medieval Aragon & Paris,” Presented by Robert Clark of Kansas Sate University; 3pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Field Hockey ComplexHoosier women’s field hockey vs. Michigan; 4pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterOpening reception for the exhibit, “The Girl Scouts“; 5:30-7:30pm

ART & LECTURE ◗ IU Grunwald GalleryBuzz Spector talks about his current exhibit, “Off the Shelf“; 5-6pm — Opening reception; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Malibu GrillBob Straight & guest; 6-9pm

ART ◗ The Venue Fine Art & GiftsOpening reception for the exhibit, “Carved Wood, Native American Inspired Art“; 6pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Detropia“; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Side by Side“; 6:45pm

AUTHORS ◗ Sweet Claire Gourmet BakeryLemonstone Reading Series, Presented by Writers Guild of Bloomington, tonight Emily Bobo reads and Zach Moon & Lawrence Washington play music; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC FEST ◗ Various locations, BloomingtonBloomingTONE Music Festival, purchase tickets for single events, all events on one night, or a full two-day pass, Friday & Saturday, Tonight’s events:

SPORTS ◗ IU Bill Armstrong StadiumHoosier women’s soccer vs. Minnesota; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallOctubafest, Daniel Perantoni, director; 7pm

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

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Haunted Hayride & StablesScary hayrides; 7-11pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Bakers Junction Railroad MuseumHaunted train; 7pm

STAGE ◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreDrama, “Richard III“; 7:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Woodburn Hall TheatreRyder Film Series: “2 Days in New York“; 7:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA BeachStar Gaze with the IU Astronomy Club, weather-permitting; 7:30-9pm

ART ◗ IU McCalla SchoolThe Fuller Projects: “Kissing Bachelard: Urban Spaces Conceived,” Paintings by Maggie Crowley; 7:30pm

OPERA ◗ IU Musical Arts Center — “The Merry Widow“; 8pm

BENEFIT ◗ The BishopXO Variety Show, for Middle Way House; 8-11pm

FILM ◗ Bear’s PlaceDark Carnival Film Festival: “Found,” Plus annual costume contest; 8pm-Midnight

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallMaster’s Recital: Haewoon Yang on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubLottaBLUESah: Snakedoctor, Michael Kelsey; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger Auditorium — UB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises”; 8pm

FILM ◗ IU Fine Arts TheaterRyder Film Series: “Stars in Shorts“; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRod Tuffcurls and the Benchpress; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleWhiskey Mystic; 9:30-11:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Chicken with Plums“; 9:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Memorial Union, Whittenberger AuditoriumUB Films: “The Dark Knight Rises“; 11pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “Beyonf the Black Rainbow“; Midnight


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
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • 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:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • 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 CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil: Bloomington’s Best

The Pencil Today:


“Whatever poet, orator, or sage may say of it, old age is still old age.” — Sinclair Lewis


Ray Bradbury‘s dead, of course, but the real shocker was realizing that up until Tuesday he was still alive.

As soon as I heard the news, I began to wonder who else I assumed took the big nap years ago but is still alive. Here are some examples:

  • Carol Channing — Musical theater actress

Carol Channing

  • Cloris Leachman — Former beauty queen, TV actress, neighbor of “Rhoda”
  • Claes Oldenburg — Sculptor

Oldenburg’s “Batcolumn”

  • Andre Previn — Conductor and composer, former husband of Mia Farrow
  • Gloria Vanderbilt — Rich woman
  • Don Pardo — NBC TV booth announcer
  • Johnny Mathis — Silken-voiced balladeer

  • Andrew Greeley — Roman Catholic priest and author of envelope-pushing novels.
  • Yogi Berra — Baseball great and malapropist
  • Ravi Shankar — Indian sitarist
  • Ornette Coleman — Jazz musician

Ornette Coleman

  • Burt Bacharach — Wrote music for Hal David’s words
  • Hal David — Wrote words for Burt Bacharach’s music
  • Doris Day — 1950s song and movie icon
  • Maureen O’Hara — Stunning film actress, appeared in “The Quiet Man”

Maureen O’Hara

  • Carl Reiner — Comedian, TV pioneer
  • Stan Lee — Comic book author and publisher, former president of Marvel Comics

Lee Co-Created The Fantastic Four

  • E.L. Doctorow — Author of “Ragtime” and many others
  • Jasper Johns — Painter

Jasper Johns’ “Three Flags”

  • Fats Domino — New Orleans singer-songwriter, famous for “Blueberry Hill”
  • Richard Coogan — TV’s “Captain Video”
  • Professor Irwin Corey — Comedian, scatter-brained and erudite TV and film actor

Professor Irwin Corey

  • Herman Wouk — Author, wrote “The Winds of War” and “The Caine Mutiny”
  • Olivia de Havilland — Film actress, sister of Joan Fontaine
  • C. Everett Koop — Ronald Reagan’s Surgeon General
  • Ernest Borgnine — “Marty” and McHale
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor – Duh.

Zsa Zsa And One Of Her Many, Many, Many Husbands

  • Vera Lynn — British singer most famous for her rendition of “We’ll Meet Again” at the end of “Dr. Strangelove….”
  • Marvin Miller — Labor economist, union leader with United Steelworkers, transformed the Major League Baseball Players Association into the highest profile union in America
  • I.M. Pei — Architect, designed the pyramid at the Louvre, the Bank of China Tower, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Javits Convention Center, and many others
  • Celeste Holm — Stage and film actress, Karen in “All About Eve,” won the Academy Award for “Gentlemen’s Agreement:
  • Barry Commoner — Scientist and professor, ran for president for the Citizens Party in 1980
  • Kirk Kerkorian — Owned MGM studios, helped develop mega-resorts in Las Vegas
  • Phyllis Diller — Self-deprecating comedienne

Phyllis Diller

  • Joan Fontaine — Film actress, Academy Award-winner for “Suspicion,” sister of Olivia de Havilland
  • Janet Waldo — the voice of Judy Jetson
  • Patty Andrews — one of the Andrews Sisters
  • Otis Bowen — former Indiana governor
  • Pauline Phillips — Born Pauline Friedman, was “Dear Abby”, twin sister of Eppie “Ann Landers” Lederer

Dear Abby

  • Marjorie Lord — The wife on “The Danny Thomas Show”
  • Efrem Zimbalist Jr. — Star of TV’s “The FBI”
  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti — Co-founder of City Lights bookstore, published Allen Ginsberg and many Beat writers, stood trial for obscenity for selling “Howl”
  • Pete Seeger — Revered folk singer
  • Louis Jourdan — Suave, debonair, French actor in American films and TV shows

Louis Jourdan

  • Al Molinaro — Owner of the drive-in on “Happy Days”
  • Nehemiah Persoff — Film and TV character actor, usually a tough guy or an ethnic type
  • Kitty Wells — The first woman singer to top the country music charts with the song, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”
  • Marge Champion — American choreographer and dancer, married to Gower Champion
  • Doris Lessing — Nobel Prize-winning South African author
  • Edward Brooke — The first black man elected to the United States Senate, from Massachusetts in 1966
  • Joseph Wapner — You know, Judge Wapner: “I know you’ve been sworn and I read your complaint….”
  • Alan Young — Wilbur on “Mr. Ed”
  • Frederik Pohl — Science fiction author
  • Jerry Maren — One of the Lollypop Guild guys in “The Wizard of Oz”

Jerry Maren

  • Henry Heimlich — Developed the eponymous maneuver
  • Sun Myung Moon — Religious lunatic worshiped by the Moonies
  • Ken Nordine — Creator  of “Word Jazz”
  • Richard Adams — Wrote “Watership Down”
  • Ray Harryhausen — Mvie special effects genius, worked on “Mighty Joe Young,” “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” “It Came from Beneath the Sea,” “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers,” “Mysterious Island,” “Jason and the Argonauts,” and One Million Years BC”
  • Denton Cooley — Heart surgeon, implanted the first artificial heart in a human being
  • Roger Angell — New Yorker writer, author of “The Summer Game”
  • Mickey Rooney — Duh.
  • Jayne Meadows — Actress, married to the late Steve Allen

Jayne Meadows & Steve Allen

  • Yusef Lateef — Jazz musician, teacher, and composer
  • Chris Economaki — auto racing announcer, dubbed “The Dean of American Motorsports”
  • Nanette Fabray — Film, theater, and TV actress, comedic partner of Sid Caesar, also appeared in sitcom “One Day at a Time”
  • Stan Musial — Baseball great
  • Noel Neill — Lois Lane on TV’s “Superman”

Lois Lane And Her Man Of Steel

  • Dave Brubeck — Jazz pianist and bandleader
  • George Schultz — Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor
  • Lou Harris — the first professional pollster hired by a presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy
  • Hugh Downs — Former “Today Show” host and commecrail pitchman for elderly-oriented products and services
  • Abe Vigoda — Fish on TV’s “Barney Miller,” Tessio in “The Godfather”

Abe Vigoda

  • Al Jaffee — Mad magazine cartoonist, specialized in the back-cover “fold-in”
  • Daniel Berrigan — Anti-war, pro-civil rights Roman Catholic priest, was on the FBI’s ten most wanted list
  • LeRoy Neiman — Painter, portrayed sports scenes, favorite of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner
  • Nancy Reagan — Protector of Saint Ronald Reagan’s legacy
  • Jake LaMotta — The “Bronx Bull” and subject of the Scorsese film, “Raging Bull,” former middleweight world boxing champ
  • John Glenn — Mercury astronaut, former Ohio senator

John Glenn Being Loaded Into Friendship 7

  • Esther Williams — Olympic swimmer who parlayed her sports success into a B-list movie career
  • Monty Hall — Host of “Let’s Make a Deal”
  • Ben Bradlee — Former Washington Post editor, oversaw Woodward & Bernstein’s Watergate investigations
  • Chico Hamilton — drummer, jazz bandleader, appeared in “The Sweet Smell of Success”
  • Patrick Macnee — Steed in TV’s “The Avengers”
  • Helen Gurley Brown — Former Cosmopolitan magazine publisher, author of “Sex and the Single Girl”

Helen Gurley Brown

  • Eileen Ford — founder of the world famous Ford Modeling Agency
  • Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) –Hallucinogenic experimenter, yoga and meditation proselytizer, author of “Be Here Now”
  • Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) — Hippie clown, founder of the Hog Farm, Woodstock emcee
  • Barbara Hale — Della Street on TV’s “Perry Mason”
  • Jack Klugman — Oscar on TV’s “The Odd Couple” and Brenda’s father in the movie, “Goodbye, Columbus”

Jack Klugman

  • Bill Macy — The husband on “Maude”
  • Judith Crist — Film critic

Now, don’t be surprised.


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