Category Archives: Spartacus

Hot Air, Hot Taunt

Libtard Pride!

A few years ago I screamed out in an earlier incarnation of this blog/colossus that I’m proud of being a liberal.

From Open Salon

Remember the days when calling people liberal was about as rotten as calling them child molesters? Yeah, after Piggy Figgy Newt Gingrich sent out marching orders in the form of his infamous mid-1990s GOPAC Memo, even the most dyed-in-the-wool Democrats ran away screaming if anyone even used a word beginning with the letter L in their rabbity-scared presence.

“Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party,” Newty wrote after the 1994 election in which his GOP had become, yep, the majority party in the US House of Representatives. That victory got Gingrich and his coatholders to thinking that with a little more luck and concerted effort they could wipe the Dems off the face of the Earth, or at least equate them in the anencephalic public’s mind with commies or Nazis.

Language, in fact, was so important to this goal that the GOPAC Memo included a couple of lists of words that Republicans could and should use in their speeches and sound bites to redefine the political landscape.

When referring to themselves or the Republican Party, Gingy advised, speakers should use certain words. “These words,” he wrote, “can help give extra power to your message.” They included:

  • Children
  • Common Sense
  • Courage
  • Crusade
  • Fair
  • Family
  • Freedom
  • Incentive
  • Legacy
  • Liberty
  • Moral
  • Prosperity
  • Proud
  • Strength
  • Tough
  • Truth

How nice.

When speaking of the, ugh, Democrats, Newt wrote, other, less complimentary verbiage was required. “These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast,” he counseled.

  • Betray
  • Bizarre
  • Cheat
  • Collapse
  • Corrupt
  • Crisis
  • Destroy
  • Disgrace
  • Failure
  • Impose
  • Liberal (Woo-hoo!)
  • Lie
  • Obsolete
  • Pathetic
  • Radical
  • Selfish
  • Shame
  • Sick
  • Steal
  • Taxes
  • They/them
  • Traitors
  • Unionized
  • Welfare

Old Joey Goebbels would have been proud.

The two most important words in that list of pejoratives seem to have been liberal and taxes.

Every Republican candidate for any office in the last two decades has villified liberals and screamed to high holy heaven about taxes.

To my chagrin, not one Dem I can recall stood up and said, Damn right I’m a liberal; what of it?

The GOP became so enamored with demonizing liberals that they even began turning the slur upon each other, so we were often confronted with the bizarre specter of two anti-tax, anti-affirmative action, anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-science blowhards accusing each other of the mortal sin of liberalism.

And the goddamned Democrats ran away and hid!

Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to hide.

I stood up as proudly as that field full of extras, Tony Curtis, and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, and shouted: I am a liberal! I’d have climbed the roof to holler it, only I’m not so fond of heights.

From "Spartacus"

I Am Spart…, er, I Mean, I Am LIberal!

Now that the Me Party-ists and other even more wingnutty factions of the Far Right have grasped control of the Grand Old Party, the word liberal seems far less ugly. Somehow not even the craziest Lefty can compare to the psychopathy of the new Right. As a matter of fact, self-described liberal websites have popped up all over the place. Even though pols, natch, still have not overcome their terror at the mere mention of the word, more and more wags and mavens are embracing it.

So, of course, the panic peddlers of the Right have had to jigger their language — remember, it “can help give extra power to your message.” The preferred slander today, apparently, is libtard.

This word alloy combines the “wisdom” of Newt Gingrich with the cruel intent of the towel-snapping high school gym locker room punk. Liberal and retardlibtard! — the term embodies a certain repulsive beauty, much like the brilliant and awe-inspiring colors of nuclear weapon flash.

I am, a certain segment of the populace is convinced, a libtard.

Really, Libtard?

So be it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to borrow a page from the LGBTQ and Black factions of my own club. Just as queer and nigger have been appropriated by those respective groups, I’m snatching libtard from the slack jaws of the citizens of Fox Nation.

I am a libtard!

Because if this guy considers me a libtard

Ted Nugent

… then I’m more than happy to be one.


The Pencil Today:


“We who are about to die salute you.” — Spartacus, et al


One of the odd things I’ve learned since moving to the bustling metrop of Bloomington, Indiana, is that graduation day is considered a major event here — and I’m not referring to the viewpoint of the graduates.

We in Bloomington long for the final day the 40,000 or so students will be in town because it’s the start of three months of bliss around these parts.

State Road 45/46 Congestion During The School Year

We’ll actually be able to park around Courthouse Square. The grocery stores won’t be jammed with students and their parents filling shopping carts with competing lists of products (the students loading up on frozen pizzas and the parents stuffing salad greens into the carts.) And nineteen-year-old kids won’t be clogging up the town’s arteries with their bought-and-paid-for luxury SUVs.

So, we’ll enjoy our brief respite from the little darlings. Come August, though, we’ll be starting to feel a tad nostalgic for all their parents’ money we can squeeze out of them.


So I lied yesterday when I said I’d put up some Hot Air around three o’clock, after my pre-surgery appointment with the ophthalmologist.

Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly. I’d fully intended to pound out a screed or two later in the day when I published yesterday’s mini-post. Only after having my pupils dilated to the size of dimes and having a passel of eye techs poke and probe my cornea and measure my ocular jelly ball from every possible angle for three hours, I decided the world might survive without my daily dose of wisdom just this once.

Anyway, here’s the prognosis — the doc over at Old Man Grossman’s Eye Center has me scheduled for surgery two weeks from this past Thursday. He promises that, with the help of lasers and drugs, he’ll restore sight to my left eye. Cool. I’ve been a virtual cyclops for a couple of years now.

The doc marveled at the size of the occlusion in my lens. He called it a hyper-mature cataract. He also assured me the Grossman operation has the heavy equipment to demolish it and cart the debris away.

The only thing that bugs me is having an old man’s ailment. But I’m not one to shy away from the truth (much) so let me state for the record here and now: I am now officially an old man.


Can we now all agree that football is the dumbest-assed of all sports?

The NFL’s Latest Victim

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau is only the latest NFL vet to take his own life, ostensibly because his brain had been turned to mush by the tens of thousands of body hits he’d taken in his life.

With mind-addled players dropping like flies, you’d think the NFL might actually do something about all the trauma. But no, we Americans dig it all too much.

Callers to radio sports talk shows and even an NFL player or two have said, hell, guys like Seau made bushels of dough playing the game, that everything they have they owe to football, so stop all the hand-wringing and sob-sistering.

In 2000 years, the only significant change we’ve made to the spectacle of gladiators facing off in an arena is that we don’t tolerate them actually taking each others’ lives in front of our eyes.

Now we prefer them to shoot themselves in the privacy of their own bedrooms.


You only have two more chances to vote in the 2012 Indiana primary: Monday and Tuesday. No excuses; it’s the least damned thing you can do.

Wear This Or Just Shut Up

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

Saturday, May 5, 2012

City Hall, Showers PlazaFarmer’s Market; 8am-1pm

◗ Bloomington B-Line Trail between 4th & 5th streets — The Really, Really Free Market, products, services, food; 10am

Hardin Ridge RA, Hoosier National Forest — “Take Pride in America Day,” annual volunteer call out sponsored by US Forest Service; 9am-5pm

IU Assembly HallUndergraduate commencement ceremony; 10am

Habitat ReStoreGrand reopening; 10:15am-5:30pm

Vintage Phoenix Comic BooksFree Comic Book Day 2012, annual comic book giveaway; 11am-7pm

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st, 9am-4:30pm

IU Grunwald (SOFA) GalleryMFA & BFA Thesis 3 exhibitions; through May 5th, Noon

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th, 1:30-5pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsExhibit, Daniel Lager; through May 17th

The Solution LabConference, Bloomington Startup Weekend, for developers, designers, entrepreneurs, etc.; through Sunday

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

“Vicissitudes” By Yang Chen

Sembower FieldIU Baseball vs. Nebraska; 1pm

IU Assembly HallUndergraduate commencement ceremony; 3pm

Cafe DjangoRon Kadish on bass & Kevin MacDowell (Kid Kazooey) on guitar; 6:30-8:30pm

Brown County Playhouse“Under the Umbrella: Life Is a Circus” by Steven Ragatz; 7-8:15pm

Paynetown SRA, Monroe Lake — “Sunset on the Water,” Interpretive naturalist Jill Vance leads a paddling tour of the lake shore, bring your own canoe or kayak; 8pm

Comedy AtticTJ Miller; 8 & 10:30pm

Rachael’s CafeIrene & Reed; 8pm

The BluebirdDot Dot Dot; 8pm

Dot Dot Dot

Max’s PlaceBluesky Back; 8pm

Cafe DjangoLuke Gillespie Trio; 9-11pm

Bear’s PlaceThe Unknown; 9pm

◗ Farm Bloomington, Rootcellar Lounge“The Booty Basement,” all-vinyl ’70s disco party; 10pm

Today: Saturday, November 5, 2011


Welcome to the newest reason to love Bloomington.  You’ve arrived at the online news, arts, culture, and opinion extravaganza we call Electron Pencil.

We swooped down to these environs from the big town on the shores of Lake Michigan a little more than two years ago (after a brief side stay in Louisville, Kentucky.) Now we’ve found our home.

We’d been part of The Third City communications powerhouse from November, 2008, starting up that whole shebang with the estimable journalist Benny Jay. Like Martin & Lewis and Frank & Jamie McCourt, we went our separate ways this past August.

Hoping to carry over our success from the Windy City, we’ll be trying to tie together all the mini-communities that make this 70K-pop. micro-lopolis one of the most cosmopolitan in this holy land.

Over the next few weeks look for us to present a daily updated art gallery featuring painting, sculpture, photography, videos, and other eye candy. We’ll also offer fresh short fiction and movie, TV, live performance, and stage reviews. There’ll be podcasts of poetry readings, essays, and rants.

And you can begin each day with the well-reasoned, scintillating, and invaluable opinions of Big Mike Glab.

We’re glad you’re here. Dig in!


Bloomington’s own franchise of the Occupy movement that huffy Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va) not long ago characterized as a “growing mob” is still sleeping in tents at the appropriately monikered People’s Park.

America’s Been Very, Very Good To The Cantor Family

I honestly don’t know which “mob” imagery he was trying to evoke. There is of course, the Mob of “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas.” But he may have been trying to channel his own inner Laurence Olivier as the uber-ambitious Crassus in “Spartacus,” denouncing the growing sentiment of Power to the People in Stanley Kubrik’s version of ancient Rome.

“Did you truly believe,” Crassus roars at the republican (small-R) Gracchus in the  Senate, “Rome could be so easily delivered into the clutches of a mob?”

Yeah, I see Cantor more as the cock-of-the-walk defender of the patricians. I also see him being ministered to by a body slave in his private bath, as portrayed in the director’s cut of the 1960 classic.

Rome Was Very, Very Good To Crassus

You remember that scene don’t you? Tony Curtis plays the body slave, Antoninus, squeezing a sponge over Crassus’s bare back. Crassus asks the scantily clad Antoninus if he’s ever eaten oysters or snails. Antoninus says he has never had a snail.

Crassus then asks if he considers the eating of oysters or snails to be a moral question because — duh — he’s not really talking about oysters and snails.

Antoninus is far less than thrilled about where the conversation is headed.

Uh, No Thanks, I’m Not Very Hungry.

After Antoninus towels him off Crassus reveals that he prefers both oysters and snails. Then Crassus stands near a window proferring a magnificent view of the imperial city on the river Tiber.

Crassus: “There, boy, is Rome! … There is the power that bestrides the known world like a colossus. No man can withstand her…. How much less, a boy!

“…There is only one way to deal with Rome, Antoninus. You must serve her. You must abase yourself before her. You must grovel at her feet. You must….” (Crassus pauses for effect) “…love her!”

Crassus turns back toward Antoninus and discovers that his slave — who has seen his master’s snail and has no taste for it — has run away.

Now I’m not saying Eric Cantor prefers snails as much as he prefers oysters (although Max Blumenthal, in his 2009 book “Republican Gomorrah,” posits that the GOP is chock-full of closet snail eaters.)

I’m jes sayin’ he loves gazing out at the vista of the colossus that bestrides the known world, circa 2011 — the same vista Occupy Wall Streeters are as unenthusiastic about as Antoninus was about escargot.

Bloomington’s “mob” is holding strong even as the weather grows inexorably more crappy. Thursday would have been a perfect day for Occupy Bloomington campers to call it a season. They haven’t. This thing looks as real in our town as it is across this colossus.

(The following pix were shot at noon, Thursday, November 4, 2011, at People’s Park.)


Stumbling into Soma Coffee for my fix this morning, I almost crashed into WFIU’s jazz boss, David Brent Johnson, and his delightful bride, Brenda McNellen. (And isn’t she the sweetest human on record? She grinned at me as she always does despite the fact that I grunted at her.) Seeing the two reminded me that pledge week started yesterday. “Go raise some money,” I said to DBJ. He promised he would.

Do your part.


Videographer Steve Llewellyn tells us about the grand opening of a new art space all day (mostly) today.

Trained Eye Arts Center will offer bands, hot air balloon rides, wine and finger food, folk dancers, comedy improve, poetry readings and more, all for a fin (four bucks if you say you arrived via the B-Line Trail.

The new headquarters for the arts collective is at 615 North Fairview. Doors open at noon and the fun goes on until midnight.

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