Category Archives: Smothers Brothers

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.” — Allen Ginsberg

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD NATION

Writer John Cassidy posts ten reasons why America is crazy in the July 24th New Yorker blog.

Here are a few of his reasons:

  • Gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected
  • God created America and gave it a special purpose
  • Cheap energy, gasoline especially, is our birthright

House Of Worship

These are things many, many citizens of this holy land accept as, well, gospel. “[T]he popular sentiment underlying these statements is so strong that politicians defy it at their peril,” he writes.

Crazy? You decide.

LOVE STORY

Only paramedics, firefighters, and cops reacted faster to the Aurora, Colorado, Shooting Rampage than the gun fanatics who shrieked and howled that even the slightest jigger to the nation’s firearms laws would be a dastardly infringement on their sacred rights.

We don’t even argue much anymore about whether or not NRA members and their fellow travelers have the god-given right to lull themselves to sleep at night holding their loved ones close — and I’m not referring to their spouses or lovers. The gun control debate was settled and signed-off ages ago.

The Winner!

Those folks who are sexually aroused by guns are staunch defenders of an absolutist read of the Second Amendment have pounded their chests for the last six days and declared the gun to be an honest citizen’s only possible defense against a tyrannical government.

I had an online exchange with one such soul last night:

Gun Rights Defender: “The reason I believe we should be able to have guns is simply because the armed services and the police have them and they work for the rulers not the people.”

Me: “The ‘rulers’ never fear guns in the hands of the citizenry because they (the ‘rulers’) will always be able to outgun them.”

The defender’s conceit holds that a bunch of old men in Lawrence County who own hunting rifles will stand as a robust defense against the jack-booted thugs who want to impose the unimaginable horror of health care reform on us.

I, on the other hand, happen to know the US Army issues to its soldiers, among other kill-toys, M16 rifles, M4 carbines, 7.62x51mm FN SCAR assault rifles, M203 grenade launchers, Mossberg 590 shotguns, M107 Long Range Sniper Rifles, and — as sidearms — 9mm M9 pistols. Oh, and the soldiers are trained to kill people with these things.

Groups of soldiers regularly practice firing M2 heavy machine guns, MK19 grenade machine guns, a variety of mortars (the smallest of which launches a 60mm shell), several types of towed howitzers, the FIM-92 Stinger shoulder-launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile, and the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank guided missile.

How well do you think your Uncle Wayne and his fishing buddies would fare in a showdown with a battalion of 18-24 year-olds lugging hardware like that around?

Oh Yeah, Uncle Wayne’ll Do Just Fine Against These Guys

History teaches us corrupt, despotic governments usually fall in a whimper. No shots were fired, for instance, to bring down the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union. Here’s another anecdotal example: The only regime still standing against the Arab Spring revolts is the one — Syria — that insurgents took up arms against.

The gun romeos need to come up with a better rationalization for their defense of the madness.

GHOUL JUSTICE

Actor Wm. Bullion points out that one of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado, Shooting Rampage not only will sue the parent company of the movie theater in which the incident occurred but has hired a publicist.

Wm. (Billy) Bullion

One of my legal sources informs me it’s unlikely the theater would be found liable for the shootings but would probably settle for a tidy sum with any of the ghouls (my characterization) who’d throw court papers its way.

Bullion quotes Cassandra Williams of W.E.T. PR: “We’re going to make sure whoever is accountable is going to take responsibility for this tragedy.”

Bullion observes: “”Yes, the FAMILY’S PUBLICIST is holding the movie theater ACCOUNTABLE.” (His caps.)

The source story reveals that the survivor’s attorney is also considering suing Warner Brothers for releasing violent movies and any of James Holmes’ doctors for allowing the suspect to walk the streets.

You have to give this survivor credit: Apparently he can find the silver lining in any dark cloud.

Payout For a Bullet Hole

THERE’S A MAN WITH A GUN OVER THERE

A redux posting: Here’s Buffalo Springfield (with the shockingly young Stephen Stills and Neil Young) performing “For What It’s Worth” on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.

BTW: Tommy Smothers was one of the unheralded coolest guys of the ’60s. Check out David Bianculli’s book, “Dangerously Funny.”

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.

I Love Charts, From The Sunlight Foundation

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

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

Present and Correct(New Listing) Fun, 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.

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.

Illustration By Maneco, From Eat Sleep Draw

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

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

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

◗ IU Auer HallSummer Arts Festival: Pipe organ faculty recital; 1pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Jeremy Allen Quartet; 5:30pmpm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Laura Connallon; 6-8:30pm

◗ IU Ernie Pyle HallJournalism seminar on Public Access and Government Transparency; 6pm

Third Street ParkOutdoor concert, Jenn Christy Band; 6:30pm

◗ IU Wells-Metz TheatreMusical, “You Can’t Take It with You”; 7:30pm

The Player’s PubOpen mic hosted by Martina Samm; 7:30pm

Serendipity Martini BarTeam trivia; 8:30pm

The BluebirdThree Story Hill; 9pm

The BishopYoung Magic, Quilt, Floorboard; 9:30pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%”; through July 30th
  • Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
  • Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
  • Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
  • Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th

◗ 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; July 27th 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 Cultures — Closed for semester break

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

“I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.” — Terry Gilliam

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

Gotta tell ya, folks, I hate to see Little Rickey Santorum go, for the loss of his entertainment value alone.

Now the presidential race is down to two politico-economic fraternal twins, each of whom is about as exciting as a can of beige paint.

Definitely Not Beige

If it wasn’t for guys like Santorum, I’d have to actually take the Republicans seriously and you know how disconcerting that prospect would be for me.

Digging the Santorum campaign was like having a daredevil hobby — bungee jumping off tall bridges, say, or rowing across an ocean. Exciting, sure, but if things go wrong, you’re screwed.

In this case, the worst-case scenario would have been a Santorum presidency

So, bye-bye Rickey. We knew you all too well.

A SIMPLE QUESTION

Does it surprise anyone that the first media creature George Zimmerman has spoken with is Fox News’ Sean Hannity?

Sympathetic Ear

DANIEL ELLSBERG, PATRIOT

I missed this. Saturday, April 7th was Daniel Ellsberg‘s birthday.

You want a hero? You got him.

Ellsberg

Here’s the story of Ellsberg’s heroism as told by Howard Zinn in his compelling graphic narrative book, “A People’s History of American Empire.”

Zinn and Ellsberg became friends in 1969 during the anti-war movement. Ellsberg earlier had worked for  the RAND Corporation, which was assigned by the US Department of Defense in 1967 to write up a history of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg actually did much of the grunt work researching this nation’s involvement there.

He learned that President Harry Truman authorized the funding of France’s colonial war against Vietnam independence fighters as far back as  the 1940s. President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s threw US support behind Vietnam strongmen who opposed free elections in that country.

Throw in a pile of other falsehoods, exaggerations, forgeries, and intentional inaccuracies on the parts of generals and politicians executing the slaughter in Southeast Asia, and Ellsberg understood that our stated aims there were a colossal sham.

Thanks to the study, Ellsberg saw that President Lyndon Johnson’s assertion that the North Vietnamese had started a war just for kicks in the summer of 1964 was an out and out lie.

Johnson, see, had said some North Vietnamese in a little motorboat had attacked a couple of American cruisers just sitting in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and minding their own business. Johnson parlayed this whopper into getting Congress to sign him a blank check and the next thing you knew, a half million American soldiers were fighting for who knows what in Southeast Asia.

Johnson, Finally Grasping What Vietnam Had Become

Ellsberg and some other RAND researchers privately agreed that they had to say something to the American public about our country’s shenanigans in Vietnam.

They figured Middle American folks would trust them, sub-contractors to the Pentagon with 7000 pages of damning documents in their hands, rather than wild-eyed hippies carrying peace placards.

So they sent a letter to major newspapers around the country calling for an end to the war. The New York Times and the Washington Post both published the letter, but nobody really gave a damn about it.

Meanwhile, the United States military went on happily killing and bombing in Vietnam. Then there was a Green Beret murder scandal and the My Lai Massacre. Ellsberg already was wracked with guilt for his country over what he knew and these atrocities only pushed him over the edge.

Destroying The Town In Order To Save It

He contacted another former RAND colleague and together they photocopied the 7000 pages with the goal of releasing the classified documents. The two agreed it was worth going to jail for exposing government secrets if it might shorten the war somehow.

Their hope was the release of the papers would turn even the most die-hard patriots against the war. They contacted the offices of a few congressmen and found no one willing to touch their hot docs.

Finally, they went to the New York Times with their bundle of papers. After a few months, the Times went ahead and published what would become known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was charged with theft and violations of the Espionage Act. He faced 115 years in prison. He turned himself in to the FBI in Boston on June 28, 1971, after having run off many more copies of the Papers and distributing them to other newspapers.

Setting The Type For The New York Times Pentagon Papers Edition

While Ellsberg was on trial, it was learned that the Nixon White House had ordered mugs to burglarize his psychiatrist’s office in hopes of finding incriminating notes against him there, and other mugs to harass him at public appearances. The federal judge declared a mistrial in Ellberg’s case due to these government interferences.

He was lucky.

He was also, as I mentioned earlier. a hero.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH

The Buffalo Springfield played this song on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, February 26th, 1967.

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