Category Archives: Susan Sandberg

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in the country. It was caused by a recession as a result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the cause of the deficit, I’ll be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

THINK LIKE A CAVE MAN

Another Ozone Action Day and — a special treat — Monroe County is under a burn ban today.

As you know if you watch Fox News and other bearers of god’s truth, there is no global warming or climate change or human causation behind any weather anomalies. Tree huggers are insane. Recyclers are socialists. This is the way the world is and has always been.

In fact, anthropologists who have been uncovering Neanderthal art have revealed that our ancient cousins were posting Ozone Action Day alerts on cave walls half a million years ago.

Hmm, I’d Better Not Use The Power Mower Today

Take that, liberals!

NO TV SATURDAY

Click.

AD HOMINEM

Bloomington City Council at-large big shot Susan Sandberg loves the Bernie Sanders quote above. (And, no, “at-large” does not imply that she’s on the lam.)

I love it too. I’m thrilled a United States Senator is bold enough to utter such things. OTOH: I’m bummed he’s one of the rare ones.

In fact, while surfing for bios to link to, I came across any number of sites that portray the harmless old bird as a danger to our holy land. One site even posts this image of him:

Commie Zombie Sanders

Here’s why I call Sanders “harmless.” No one has taken a shot at him (and you know what I mean), he hasn’t been torn down by some trumped-up sex charges, and Fox News hardly ever mentions his name. If the Armed Right Wing Loonocracy doesn’t care about you, you may as well be hollering in an open cornfield with nobody around for miles.

SQUISHY FARE

If I have to explain the humor behind my “calamari” post on Facebook last night, you’ll never get it anyway.

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL MORNING

How cool were the Rascals?

Quit reading this now and go out. Enjoy the day.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.” — Criswell

ROLLING INTO THE 2012 SEASON

Wait, what? You weren’t there Saturday night? Come on, people — what’s the matter with you?

Tools Of The Trade

The Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls opened their 2012 regular season at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center. The place was packed, I tell you.

Bloomington’s two traveling derby teams, the B-league Code Blue Assassins and the A-league Flatliners faced off against their counterparts from the Ohio Roller Girls. The CBAs staged a thrilling rally in the final three minutes to overtake Gang Green in the opening bout. The Flatliners, though, fell behind early in the first half and, despite mounting a comeback of their own, couldn’t catch Ohio by the final buzzer, losing 115-90.

The BHRG actually has a mascot now and the kids in the crowd loved it. The mascot doesn’t have a name yet so you might just want to get on over to the team’s Facebook page and make a suggestion. And, hey, the Roller Girls’ ads are becoming slick enough to stand up against the best Apple or Ford has to offer. Okay, I exaggerate, but only a bit. Check out this one for Saturday’s bout:

Wily veteran Truly F Obvious was roaming the roller colosseum Saturday night, natch. She’s retired this year after breaking her arm a couple of times last season. She proudly showed me her scar. She’s got a few bucks’ worth of hardware implanted in her now, holding her radius and ulna together for the rest of her life. Truly made me grasp her forearm, then she twisted it so I could feel the iron. I almost passed out.

Battle Scar

Bleeding Heartland, now in its sixth season, is getting better every year. They were ranked 16th in the North Central region of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association in 2010 and jumped to 13th last year. Could this be the year they crack the top 10?

Their next home bout is Saturday, March 31st, against the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls of Grand Rapids, Michigan. If I don’t see you there, I’ll assume you’re dead. What kind of flowers should I send?

PRESIDENT MITCH DANIELS REVEALED TO BE A KOCHOMATON

There’s still a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on the line for the lucky aspiring wag who submits the best prediction of how nuts the Republicans will become by the 2016 presidential race (if you click the link, scroll down to “C’mon, Let’s Play”).

I’m figuring the GOP will be trying to decide between Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump for the nomination. The Dems — book it — will be running Chelsea Clinton.

See? You can let yourself get crazy — just like the GOP!

If you think the party that once claimed Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt as standard-bearers is psycho now, just wait. What are they gonna wanna outlaw next, breasts?

GOP 2016 Slogan: “No Mamms!”

One entrant, Susan Sandberg, worries that the Republicans will run Mitch Daniels in four years. He’ll win, she says, and turn this holy land into a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually-starved country.”

Eek.

Bloomington’s own singing sensation Krista Detor submitted her nightmare scenario that builds on Sandberg’s dystopia. Detor writes, “… in 2018, a resistance fighter will be propelled back in time to alert us to the hard truth that Mr. Daniels is actually a cannibalistic automaton, controlled on alternating days by the Koch Bros.” Detor writes a happy ending, though. The resistance fighter will slay Daniels in a light-sabre battle. The Dreamworks people will want to make a movie based on the story and will beg Krista to score it. But our own plucky musical muse will turn them down so she can work for the 2020 presidential campaign of Lucy Lawless.

BTW: Krista Detor coined what might become the most fabulous word in the English language (after the F-bomb, of course.) She calls the android Daniels a Kochomaton.

I hope her vision comes true just so we can use that word regularly.

To enter the contest email me, post it on my Facebook wall, or click on Leave A Comment at the top left of this page.

SCIENCE AS ART

Here’s what you ought to do Wednesday from 6:30-8:00pm: mad scientists Alex Straiker and Jessica Lucas will host an opening reception for their artwork at Finch’s Brasserie.

Straiker will feature photomicroscopy of stained brain cells. He studies the effects of cannabinoids on the brain at the IU Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. Lucas has taken magnificent photos of teensy botanical structures as part of her work in the IU Biology Department.

Plant Root Hairs

Science is fun — and gorgeous. Drop by and ogle the art. If you’re not there, we’ll talk about you.

CHICAGO (THAT TODDLIN’ TOWN)

Man, when I was just starting out in this writing racket, I’d be pounding the Chicago pavement, knocking on doors at the Tribune, the Sun-Times, Chicago mag, the Reader and all the rest, trying to convince any soft-hearted or desperate editor to take a chance on me.

That was back in the mid-80s, before the internet, before the 24-hour news cycle. Dig: I even used a typewriter at the time. Smith-Corona, baby.

Jeez, I’m Old

At the end of any typical day, after getting thrown out of half the editors’ offices in town, I might need some liquid comfort.

If I wanted to cry in my beer with Jeff the Bartender (who was a fine writer and academician in his own right), I’d do Billy Goat’s Tavern under Michigan Avenue.

Every time the door would open, I’d check to see if the Prince of the Papers, Mike Royko, was coming in. Maybe, just maybe, if he could hear what a whippet-quick wit I was, if I could toss off some devastating bon mot, Royko might pull me aside and say, “Y’know what, kid? You got the stuff.”

Never happened.

Royko

If I just wanted hear music and hang around lesser media lights and TV anchors, I’d hit Andy’s Jazz Club on Hubbard Street. If I was lucky, Barrett Deems, Louis Armstrong’s old drummer, might be hitting the skins. It’d be too loud for me to display my verbal chops and, besides, I knew enough to know TV people’d never be interested in me. So I just drank my gin and tonics and floated on the sounds.

This version of “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” by the Oscar Peterson Trio reminds me of those days downtown. The city was everything I’d dreamed it would be back then. Any door in the world could open up for me if only I kept knocking.

Chicago and I celebrated birthdays yesterday — the Windy City turned 175 and I hit 56. Now I know the best door that ever opened was the one that let me in me here, little old Bloomington, Indiana. Go figure.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Let us remind our poor men folk in deed and song:

There are two types of men in this womanly world:

Those who know they are weak,

Those who think they are strong.” — Philip Strax

SO FAR AWAY

Didja catch the sky show this weekend?

The thumbnail moon has been doing a celestial dance with the planets Venus and Jupiter. Man, it’s a fantastic tableau.

Tonight’s Arrangement

All three orbs are doh-si-doh-ing in the far western sky at sunset and for about an hour and a half thereafter.

Imagine: you can glance up at the clear sky at, say, 7:30pm any evening this week and literally see an object — Jupiter — that’s a hair less than 600 million miles away. Think of it this way, that’s 240,000 times the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Some Walk

Or, to put it another way, it’s more than 5200 times the number of miles the average American walks in a lifetime.

Don’t miss the show, folks.

“I BEG YOUR PARDON”

Just got finished reading Kurt Vonnegut‘s “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.” Fun book. Took me an hour. Give it a shot.

It’s a compilation of audio pieces Vonnegut did for Public Radio’s WNYC in New York. The idea being Vonnegut, working with the suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian, repeatedly gets just enough lethal injection medication to bring him to a series of near-death experiences.

Life & Death

He travels down the bright blue tunnel and meets St. Peter at the gates of heaven and is able to interview various dead folk. He speaks with such luminaries as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Shakespeare, and Clarence Darrow as well as people you wouldn’t expect to have merited entrance to paradise; Vonnegut interviews Adolf Hitler and James Earl Ray, too.

There is no hell in Vonnegut’s conceit, so everybody who dies gets to go to heaven. Hitler, for his part, tells him the world should erect a stone monument to his memory, perhaps at the site of the United Nations in New York. The monument should be inscribed, “Entschuldigen Sie” — I beg your pardon.

Anyway, the quote at the top of this post comes from one of the people Vonnegut meets in heaven. Dr. Philip Strax was the guy who convinced American women and their doctors that mammograms were essential in detecting early, treatable, forms of breast cancer. He and a couple of associates, Sam Shapiro and Dr. Louis Venet, published their ground-breaking study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1966.

No telling how many women’s lives have been saved by the Strax et al paper. Strax’s own wife died of breast cancer at the age of 39 and he devoted the rest of his life to fighting the disease.

One Way To Look At Things

Check out any magazine and you’ll naturally come to the conclusion that Americans have breasts on their minds from morning until night. Men, in case you didn’t know, even dream about them. At least Phil Strax turned a preoccupation with mammaries into a service to humankind.

C’MON, LET’S PLAY!

Friday, I put the challenge out there: Let’s play a game wherein we try to guess how outlandish the Republican Party will become by the 2016 presidential race.

After all, things have become so psychotic around POG world headquarters that smart-asses like me can hardly even make jokes about them anymore. The Republican candidates are the joke.

Comedy Competition

It can only get worse. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone thinks that the Republican attack strategy which has worked so well for more than 30 years has become so pervasive that this year’s nominees have turned on each other. The Republicans, Taibbi implies, have become cannibals.

So, I put out the call for Pencillistas get all creative and try to imagine how psychotic the GOP (oh, right, I forgot — the POG) will become in four years.

The game, which I dubbed the Electron Cool Test, is easily played. Just come up with some nightmarish slogan, a weird candidate, or a bizarre scenario that the Republicans will foist upon us the next time we stage a presidential beauty contest after 2012.

I started things off by suggesting Chuck Norris, Marco Rubio, and Ivanka Trump will be the frontrunners when primary season 2016 commences. They will face none other than Chelsea Clinton in my fever dream.

Commander-in-Chief

Pencillista Nona Schultz foresees the Republicans gobbling themselves to near-death this year, making them bit players in the political arena for years to come. “This is my delusion and I’m sticking to it,” she writes.

Bloomington City Council member Susan Sandberg pulled a comfy chair up to the keyboard and clacked out a dystopian novella. Running mates Mitch Daniels and Chris Christy will character-assassinate poor young Chelsea (who’ll indeed be 35 by 2016) and squeak past her in the election.

A Heartbeat Away

Daniels will preside over an economic depression forcing many Americans into bread lines. America under the former Indiana governor will be a “sexless, artless, colorless, intellectually starved country,” Sandberg writes.

Sheez, Susan, way to bum us all out.

It’s on you now, Pencillistas. What do the Republicans have in store for us in four years? Simply type your entry in the Leave A Comment section.

And remember, the winner will get a free specialty drink from Soma Coffee on a Saturday morning of my choosing.

FORGET THE ELEPHANT

The elephant has been the mascot of the Republican Party for some 140 years.

That’s a shame because elephants are among my fave critters on Earth. Republicans, not so much.

So I suggest a switch. Follow me, now.

The Party needs an animal mascot that’s native to the United States — the elephant, of course, is not.

The animal must be the largest of its kind. Republicans, like Texans, like things big.

It can’t be a vegetarian, like the pachyderm. No, it must eat meat (or at least living, moving, noise-making creatures.)

It must have a certain burly quality, perhaps an upper body that’s heavily muscled. Republicans like their idols to be he-men.

Finally, the animal must have a mean disposition and weapons to back it up. After all, what’s a Republican without weapons?

Therefore, I hereby propose that the animal known by the zoological term Conepatus leoconotus be named the new animal mascot for the Party of God.

Conepati live in such definitively American spots as Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. If that doesn’t scream out GOP, I don’t know what does.

They have strong front legs and shoulders, like Chuck Norris. They have long, thick claws which, in the animal world, are the equivalent of firearms. The NRA should love these guys.

Speaking Of Symbolism

Finally, Conepati, when annoyed or frightened, spray a foul-smelling substance from a gland located near their anus. What could be more Republican than that?

Conepatus leuconotus is more commonly known as the hog-nosed skunk.

Perfect.

Grand Old Party

These critters are the whitest among the many varieties of skunks. Republican, right? Oh, and they have a dark underside.

Hey, Newt Gingrich might already be a hog-nosed skunk.

There. I’ve solved the mascot problem for the GOP. Now I’ll get cracking on the Dems — although it’ll be hard to top the jackass as a symbol for that gang.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge in every country is the surest basis of public happiness.” — George Washington

OUR GAL VI

The local Facebook-iverse was abuzz last night over the mention of one of our own in the Village Voice.

Seems that those city slickers suddenly have realized that there are actually people out here, and not just goats. And some of us Hoosiers can read and write and — gasp! — think.

State Senator Vi Simpson, top dog of the Democratic caucus, came in for the imprimatur on the Voice’s Scientology blog (golly gee, I didn’t know there was a crying need for such a thing). Writer Tony Ortega breathlessly marvels over the mere existence of Vi, who cleverly introduced an amendment to weaken a Republican bill to get creationism taught in Indiana public schools.

Clever Simpson

Creationism, for those of you who understandably ignore the bleatings of the god-fearing Right, holds that the Earth is only 6000 years old and that a couple of white people named Adam and Eve ate some piece of fruit, causing all subsequent generations of humans to be born evil. Oh, and that a talking snake persuaded them to munch the honeycrisp.

“Go Ahead, Eat It.”

I figure I’d be god-fearing, too, if I believed in a deity that deranged.

See, GOP Senator Dennis Kruse had introduced the original bill, SB 89, presumably because he thinks teaching evolution, biology, and geology are frightful wastes of our education dollars. The Indiana Senate actually passed the bill, leading me to wonder if those city slickers are right — perhaps we are just a bunch of illiterate goats out here.

Hoosier?

Vi Simpson, though, proved at least some of us possess Homo Sapiens sapiens genetic material.

Her amendment called for the teaching of the creation myths of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology as well. Lo and behold, her amendment was passed, probably because, y’know, half to three quarters of those minty-fresh Tea Party legislators probably can’t read anyway.

And the kicker: Simpson received complaints from various minor religion zealots who were put out because their fave fairy tales weren’t included.

“Hey! What About Us?”

In any case, the bill is now watered down enough to make it essentially toothless as well as brainless.

Here’s a hat tip to FB eagle-eyes (and Pencillistas) Michael Redman, Miles Craig, Susan Sandberg, Jim Manion, Steve Johnson, Mike Cagle, R.E. Paris, and Joy Shayne Laughter for catching the Simpson story.

And — huzzah! — those fancy folks from the Big Apple like us, they really like us!

KILL ‘EM ALL AND LET GOD SORT ‘EM OUT

Great. Now some knucklehead with a gun and a teensy package has shot and killed a bald eagle in Morgan County.

The Herald Times reports this morning that the eagle carcass was found earlier this month near Eminence.

Target Practice

Keep in mind that a couple of whooping cranes were gunned down late last year as well. Folks, can we please go back to shooting tin cans off fence posts?

I said this a little more than a year ago, after Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were pumped full of lead in Tucson, and now it looks as though I’ll have to say it again: America, stick your guns up your ass.

LOCAL ARTISTS SHOWCASE

Can you pony up two bucks?

That’s all it costs to see scads of local Bloomington artists show their stuff at — what else? — the Local Artists Showcase, Saturday, February 25, at the Bloomington Convention Center.

Bloom magazine bwana Malcolm Abrams sauntered into the Book Corner the other day in search of baseball magazines — yes, it’s that time of year — and to pass out flyers for the event. Bloom is sponsoring the bash along with Ivy Tech.

Some 67 local painters, scultors, mixed media artists and many others will be on hand.

With tix so cheap, you’ll have plenty of dough left over to buy some nice pieces, no?

CHICKS WITH DISCS

Have you caught Womenspace on WFHB yet?

If not, why not? Great music by a revolving cast of XX-chromosome DJs, including Carolyn VandeWiele, Catharine Rademacher, and Liza Pavelich. Check these Spinitron playlists for the show so you can see what you’ve been missing.

VandeWiele, Rademacher & Pavelich

Womenspace airs every Thursday, 9-11PM. Women spinning women, baby. Catch it.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.” — Margaret Mead

THE PENCIL IS THE CUTTING EDGE

Being a long-time alt-journalist, I love it when I can beat the pants off big media.

A month ago I put up a K-pop video featuring a bunch of young zombies called 2NE1. “K-pop,” I wrote, “is evil.

The music phenomenon from South Korea glorifies showy materialism, its voices are auto-tuned and pitch corrected until they no longer even seem human, and the blatant sexuality of the obviously underaged performers is creepy.

K-pop is soft-core child porn with a cheap, artificial soundtrack.

Typical K-pop Girl Group

Now, Al Jazeera English has produced a 25-minute documentary on the craze from South Korea.

Young kids, the doc reveals, are being exploited by “South Korea’s unique idol-grooming system” to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for slave-driving impresarios. The hours and physical demands on the kids are nearly unbearable. The training regimen for the genre’s manufactured stars stresses conformity. Potential K-pop idols’ lives are controlled even down to what they eat. The girls are forbidden to have boyfriends.

Kids who sign up for K-pop star training often even have to cut off contact with family and friends. One such star confesses, “I want to meet my family. I want to spend time with them. I want to talk. I want to have dinner with my family. I want to hug my mom. I want to say, ‘Oh Mom, I love you.’ I miss them so much.”

Sounds more like a religious cult than a creative art to me.

The rage for K-pop is being used as a PR tool to goose the South Korean consumer and service industries. Plastic surgeons, for instance, are making gobs of dough slicing up patients’ faces so they can resemble stars.

Yep, I was right. K-pop is evil.

Remember, you heard it here first.

KID STUFF

Despite a mini-rash of “big-city crimes” a couple of months ago, Bloomington still is, at heart, a small town.

Want proof? Here are the top two entries in the Herald Times’ Police Beat column yesterday:

  • A 19-year-old kid, apparently drunk. left the Steak ‘n Shake on College Mall Road early Thursday morning without paying for his meal. The entry notes that the kid actually returned to the restaurant.
  • A 14-year-old schoolboy showed a bag of pot to another kid at Tri-North Middle School.

So don’t fret too much about our town going straight to hell.

Plato: “What is happening to our young people?” (4th Century BCE)

HOW CLOSE IS TOO CLOSE?

Speaking of journalism, its relationship to politicians comes under the scope in this month’s Vanity Fair. Writer Suzanna Andrews profiles Rebekah Brooks, the disgraced former editor and biz bigshot within Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire.

Brooks

Brooks was brought down along with a few other co-conspirators in the News of the World phone hacking scandal last summer.

She’d weaseled herself into the good graces of Murdoch, the big boss himself, by employing a deadly combination of striking looks, sheer charisma, ambition, obsequiousness, craven opportunism, and a pinpoint targeting of rivals.

A scant 20 years after hiring on as a secretary within the Murdoch mob, Brooks had risen to the top. She became editor of News of the World at the tender age of 31, editor of The Sun three years later, and CEO of News International six years after that.

In addition to cozying up to Murdoch, Brooks worked her magic on the UK’s biggest pols, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and David Cameron.

Love, David

In fact, Brown and Cameron and their wives attended her 2009 wedding. Andrews claimed that Cameron signed letters to her, “Love, David.”

My hair stood on end as I read all this (Well, at least the hair on my arms did; my scalp has been unencumbered for many years now.) Journalists, I pontificated to myself, should keep a healthy distance from the subjects they cover.

What would Brooks’ take be, for instance, if Blair or Brown were embroiled in a scandal? Would she go soft on them, even subconsciously?

I remember learning that NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell was going to marry grotesque sauropod Alan Greenspan even while he was still Chairman of the Fed.

That, I concluded at the time, was somewhat akin to incest.

So, I’m pure, right?

Not so fast.

It occurs to me I’m on friendly terms with the likes of Pat Murphy, Susan Sandberg, Regina Moore, and Steve Volan, among other government pay-drawers and decision makers. Am I too friendly with any of them?

Too Friendly?

Earlier this month I called for Amy Gerstman, the Monroe County Auditor, to resign immediately for her actions in the credit card scandal.

From all I hear, Gerstman is a kind and sweet soul who is honest at her core, albeit less than alive to the appearance of the county’s checkbook watchdog using the county’s credit at Kroger.

But what if she and I were big pals? Would I have the stones to demand her ouster?

What if Susan Sandberg had been caught using city-issued credit cards for personal use?

Could I call for her head?

I don’t know.

All I know is, I’m glad I don’t plan on getting married again so I won’t have to decide whether I should invite any of my public official acquaintances to the reception.

DIANE’S DEATH A SHOCK

Just spoke with a colleague of IU law professor Earl Singleton. This colleague attended last night’s visitation for Singleton’s late wife Diane.

According to the colleague, Diane’s death — and the puzzling circumstances surrounding it — came as a complete surprise to Earl and the couple’s two kids.

“I can’t imagine a more uncomplicated and steady family,” this colleague said.

BLOOMINGTON’S WATER SHEIK

The Boys of Soma gathered for Day One of their regular weekend confab this morning.

Tough Guy Pat, the Caliph of Clean Water, came in for a ruthless ribbing in the wake of today’s Herald Times story revealing the 2012 salaries of our town’s elected and appointed officials. He has reeled in the pro-forma 1.5 percent raise for non-union city employees.

Another one of the Boys, who’s also listed in the H-T salary database, observed that the Caliph’s salary bump was like giving Mitt Romney a 1.5 hike.

Tough Guy Pat merely laughed as he lit his cigar with a crisp fifty.

Loaded

SHE’S NOT THERE

One of the greatest pop songs of all time, performed by The Zombies. Listen for the complicated harmony and the insistent building of volume and adding of instrumentation up to the final crescendo.

Now, don’t ask me why the You Tube OP chose to pair the song with footage from “The Outer Limits.” No matter, I love both the tune and the show. As a nine-year-old I recall waiting all week for “The Outer Limits” to come on. And more often than not, I’d be driven to dash out of the living room in terror at the sight of certain monsters on the program, only to tip-toe my way back in within moments.

As always, enjoy.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Louis Brandeis

PENCILLISTAS!

Leave it to that hard working public servant Susan Sandberg to perform, well…, yet another public service. The At-large Bloomington City Council member has coined the term pencillistas for the growing number of slavish daily readers of this column.

Power To The Pencil!

For all you right wing spies and moles who are monitoring these precincts for the inevitable terrorist atrocities that liberalism engenders, we’re gonna save you some time and shoe-leather. Here is a laundry list of our recent activities:

  • We’re drawing up a list of all people who earn more than $500 a week so we can disembowel them when we take over
  • We’re stuffing envelopes full of nuclear secrets and addressing them to the various mullahs of Iran
  • We’re creating a database of kindly old grandmas and grandpas so we can drag them all before our health care death panels
  • We’re establishing a dating registry for all innocent, caucasian, blonde, female high school seniors to connect with black men serving hard time in selected Midwest state prisons
  • We’re working on drafting legislation that would require each woman in the state to undergo at least two abortions by the age of 21
  • We’re lobbying for changing our national anthem from “The Star-Spangled Banner” to “L’Internationale
  • And, finally, we’re extremely busy exchanging recipes for scrumptious oatmeal cookies, you know, the ones that aren’t all mushy like store-bought cookies, but sort of crisp and crunchy?

So, if you want to be a Pencillista, sharpen your knives, bone up on your gas centrifuge knowledge, and bring out your best recipe. Welcome one and all!

PIMP MY RIDE OR TWEET MY MIND

Our latest Pencil Poll asked “If you were forced to choose, would you give up your car or your connectivity?”

Our results as of 9:00 this morning indicate the car is still king in these Great United States, Inc.

True Love

Fully 46.15 percent of Americans (based on our findings) would give up their connectivity while 30.77 percent would give up their car. Fewer than eight percent of respondents say they have no car and no respondents say they have no connectivity.

(Our crack team of IT experts cautions that many respondents who lack internet connectivity may have mailed in their votes. We’ll have further results next Monday.)

Finally, 15.38 percent say they have no hope.

Happy Friday!

WHO NEEDS BRAINS?

Now that Indiana statehouse Republicans have squashed those pesky labor unions, they’ve turned their beady, bloodshot eyes toward the even more dire threat of intelligence.

The Indiana Senate Education Committee overwhelmingly approved sending a bill to the full Senate that would allow the teaching of “creation science” in our public schools.

Stop Pulling Out Your Hair — The Indiana Legislature’s Got Your Back

In other education news, Munster high school junior Brittni Pinkston won the regional science fair competition with her project “Angels in Mom’s Attic.” And Gosport eighth-grader Zach St. Peter’s song, “Science: What Is It Good For?” was awarded the Governor’s Medal for Obedient Creativity.

Keep up the great work kids! And remember, a mind is a terrible thing to have.

YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING OR I’M TELLING!

So, the candidates hoping to challenge President Obama in November got together again to tell the world how horrifying things in this holy land would be if certain GOP-ers won the nomination.

And you should have heard them talk about each other.

Moon Newt and Rich Mitt engaged in yet another episode of their pissing contest last night in Jacksonville, Florida. Their bitchiness annoyed Rick Santorum.

Newt: “Am Not.” Mitt: “Are Too.”

The Closet Candidate stomped his foot and demanded that his playmates get along. Or else, I suppose, he’d tell Mom.

In the midst of all the sniping and the holdings-of breath, two or three actual issues were raised: space exploration, for one; and immigration, for another. Perhaps it was the introduction of actual topics that set Santorum off.

I’m Not Fighting.”

Anyway, here’s what he said, after being asked about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and telling the questioner and Florida Republican voters what a stand-up guy he is.

“The bigger issue here is, these two gentlemen, who are out distracting from the most important issues we have, have been playing petty, personal politics. Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress and used the skills that he developed as a member of Congress to go out and advise companies? And that’s not the worst thing in the world? And that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy because he worked hard and he’s going out and working hard? And you guys should leave that alone and focus on the issues.”

Oh, how the crowd cheered our little Pennsylvania queen of the May.

Problem is, those are precisely the most important issues we face in this holy land.

Elected representatives who take their hefty Congressional pensions and then go out and shill and pimp for corporations that have no more concern for you and me than if we were ants on the sidewalk — that’s pressing!

And guys who make millions by turning over companies — and employees and towns and industries be damned? Yeah. Why do you think thousands of people started occupied financial centers and public spaces in October?

Both charges are at the core of our nation’s rot. The continued ability of a precious few to make scads of dough trumps all human concerns. The spending of millions — and even billions — to sway our elected representatives has turned Congress into a cheap dime store.

Those are the issues, Ricky.

SOME SOCIALISTS ARE JUST BETTER CAPITALISTS

Here’s a tale of two Chicagoans. They bookended the 20th Century. In a lot of ways, they defined it.

Each depended on public and private support for their ambitious plans.

First, Jane Addams.

As a young woman, she traveled to Great Britain and saw the Toynbee Hall settlement house. It inspired to her to return to Chicago and start a similar establishment there. She and Ellen Starr leased Charles Hull’s house just north of the famed Maxwell Street area where many immigrant Italians and Jews made their first homes in America.

Hull House Kids

Those immigrants needed help. They were poor, largely uneducated, and many could hardly speak English, if at all.

Addams and Starr opened up what would become known as Hull House. They raised money, made speeches, called for volunteers, and proceeded to provide human services to the community.

They set up a kindergarten, provided medical service, established a night adult education program, staffed an employment bureau, fed the hungry, encouraged kids and adults to create art, set up a circulating library, and started a day care center.

Addams then branched out into consumer affairs and health and food safety. She agitated for women’s suffrage. She also spoke long and loud against militarism.

Eventually, Jane Addams’ Hull House organizations expanded to branches all over the city. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

That all took place in the early part of the past century.

In the latter part of the century, a fellow named Jerry Reinsdorf made himself a few hundred million dollars creating real estate tax shelters.

There is no record of him starting kindergartens, circulating libraries, soup kitchens, or night adult education programs. His passions, apparently, were limited to accumulating more cash than any human could possibly spend in a lifetime. Maybe two. Or even a hundred.

In 1981, he and his limited partnership purchased the Chicago White Sox for $19 million (using borrowed money, natch). Less than a decade later, Reinsdorf and his fellow mobsters stuck a gun in the ribs of Illinois Governor Jim Thompson and demanded a new stadium.

If Thompson refused, Reinsdorf et al warned, they’d take their White Sox and move to Florida.

So Jim Thompson twisted arms in the Illinois state legislature until that august body approved funding for a $167 million playground. The eventual debt service on the new ballpark reputedly brought the final total bill to somewhere in the vicinity of a half a billion dollars. And, despite the fact that taxpayers were footing the bill for his baseball palace, Reinsdorf and his co-conspirators gained control over the sports authority set up to administer the payout.

It was the sweetest deal of Jerry Reinsdorf’s life.

Suite Luxury At US Cellular Field

In 2003, in exchange for $68 million, Reinsdorf allowed the US Cellular outfit to slap its name all over the park.

In the coming 2012 baseball season, Reinsdorf’s White Sox will draw close to three million fans. Full season ticket plans can cost up to $3439 per seat. If you’d like to park your car in the ballpark’s lot, you’ll have fork over an additional $1568.

And we’re not even talking about skybox deals which can range into the high six figures or even the millions annually.

Here’s another similarity between Jerry Reinsdorf and Jane Addams. Reinsdorf’s White Sox figure to be lousy this year. Addams’ Hull House suffered through such a lousy year in 2011 (as well as 2010 and ’09) that the organization is ceasing operation today at 5:00pm.

By the way, the major reason Hull House had three lousy years in a row? The bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008, leading to near-economic depression and fewer charitable donations. Ironic, huh?

You might wonder if real estate tycoon Jerry Reinsdorf is suffering, too. Nah. He got out of the real estate racket years ago, selling his firm for a hundred million dollars. Oh, and his investment in the White Sox? It’s has grown by 16.5 times since his initial outlay of $19 million 30 years ago. The team is now worth $315 million, according to Forbes magazine.

Jane Addams may have been selfless and smart, but she wasn’t smart enough to parlay real estate tax shelters into a fortune.

War: What Is It Good For?

It ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker. Friend only to the undertaker.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.” — Gore Vidal

NO PLASTER SAINT

Think of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. Think of what a brilliant man he was. Think also of what an imperfect man he was.

King, 1956

His work hastened the enactment of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The contender for the most evil American of the 20th Century, J. Edgar Hoover, kept a thick dossier on King’s sex life. Yep, King did those tawdry things outlined in the file. To people like Hoover, that file defined King.

To tens of millions of Americans who can now vote freely and don’t have to worry about not getting a job or being turned away from a hotel or restaurant because they’re the wrong color or sex, King was incapable of such “sin.”

Both views insult the man because they deny the fullness of his humanity, the good in him and his failings, his high principles and his base urges.

Me? I respect King all the more for knowing he battled with and often succumbed to temptation. He was just a guy — but what a human being!

Imperfect Men; A More Perfect Nation

FLIP-FLOP PHONIES

Here’s all you need to know about the state of national politics in this holy land. Jon Huntsman today will endorse Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.

Best Friends Forever

Huntsman is dropping out of the Republican primaries six days before the South Carolina vote and almost a week after he came in third in the New Hampshire beauty contest, a finish he told his supporters was a springboard to South Carolina. He made the decision this weekend.

Up until yesterday, his website listed chapter and verse as to why Romney is unelectable in November. Or, I should say, was unelectable. Romney is (oops again — was) a flip-flopper, a shark, a pretty boy, a man with no real philosophy.

Man, you’d have thought a Romney presidency would almost have been as devastating to America as the presidency of Barack Obama — who, by the way, was Hunstman’s former boss. The only thing Hunstman didn’t accuse Romney of was being a secret Muslim, but there’s only room in the political conversation for one of those, apparently.

Sunday, the keepers of the Huntsman website made all references to Romney’s evils vanish.

Hunstman’s Suddenly Mitt-Free Website

Politics would be a funny game if it didn’t make me so glum.

VOTE FOR ME — I’LL SET YOU FREE!

How weird is it that Rick Perry has suddenly positioned himself as the defender of the people, calling Mitt Romney a “vulture capitalist”?

Very weird.

Perry’s panicked. The man who has sold his governorship to any corporate entity that waves a check in his face, clearly figures the only bullet he has left in his cylinder is to accuse Romney of being a greedy capitalist pig.

Which Romney is — but so is Rick Perry.

It goes to show that the most powerful influence on politics is the virtually pathological ego that spurs a person to want to become a national leader.

Perry: “I’m The One.”

Perry gave up his precious economic philosophy in the snap of a finger when he felt himself in danger of losing out on the ultimate job promotion.

I’ll vote in the presidential election, sure, but I can’t shake the feeling that anyone who wants to be president of a nation of +300M people with some 5600 active nuclear weapons at his command is, well, a bit off. Why would any sane human being want that kind of responsibility?

Oh Yeah, I Can Handle This Thing — Don’t Worry

Just trying to meet the needs and desires of our massive population is daunting enough. Knowing that the ace you have up your sleeve in dealing with the world’s nations is an arsenal that could ignite at any moment a global holocaust makes the job desirable only to a crazy man or woman.

LOCAL POLS: LESS PHONY, JUST AS NUTTY

I spoke with Tim Mayer, the Bloomington City Council’s new president, last week. He’s refreshed from a nice holiday vacation and looking forward to picking up the gavel.

I apologized to him for not playing “Hail to the Chief” when he walked into the Book Corner and he graciously forgave me. “How does it feel to be the Commander in Chief of such an august body?” I asked.

He spun on his heel, pointed to the middle of his back and replied, “The target’s hanging right here.”

Mayer Was Comforted By Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff After He Was Sworn In

Mayer became serious and said he’s looking forward to the task. In fact, he claimed the best part of being a council member is hearing the citizenry during the public comment sessions at the meetings. At which point I told him he needs psychiatric treatment.

Mayer is still sane enough to say I was probably right. Then he recounted the tale of a particular well-known citizen gadfly who attended every meeting and had a blustery opinion on every proposal. This man was a shrewd provocateur who knew just how far he could go when raising his idiosyncratic Cain — he knew, for instance, that he could get away with uttering the word shit during his comment period but not the F-bomb.

Anyway, Mayer remembered that the man was familiar enough with the personalities on the Council to be able to get under any of their skins. He knew how to rattle one female former Council president by saying repeatedly, “Listen here, girlie….”

The former president’s hair would stand on end at such moments.

BTW: as for last year’s Council president (and I’m not necessarily saying she’s the one referred to above), doctors in the decompression ward report that Susan Sandberg will be released from her straitjacket soon and should recover nicely, save for the occasional nightmare.

Susan Sandberg, Before She Was Institutionalized

Good luck, Tim.

WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN

Oh yes we will. We always do.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Fun is good.” — Theodore Geisel

POLITICAL FAVORS

A certain handsome reporter/blogger/smart ass was walking up Walnut Street in the brilliant sunshine Saturday afternoon. At 6th Street he ran into the Honorable Regina Moore, newly reelected Clerk of the great city of Bloomington.

The reporter revealed to Moore that he is working on a Top 10 Local Political Stories of 2011 piece for the upcoming issue of Peter LoPilato’s Ryder magazine. “Oh, ______,” Moore said, tugging at the reporter’s jacket sleeve, “do me a favor. Put in the piece that I got more votes than Mayor Kruzan.”

Let’s Make A Deal

I won’t reveal the reporter’s name because, in addition to being handsome, he is modest.

Moore continued. “All you have to do is put in a footnote or something. Nothing much. I can’t wait to show it to the Mayor!”

Consider it done, Regina. Um…, I mean, I’ll bet he does it.

POLITICAL ROCK STAR

City Council president Susan Sandberg got a kick out of the Beach Boys vid we ran in these parts Friday.

She revealed in the comments section that as a callow, hotsy-totsy youth, she formed a garage band called The Tsunamis. They played — you guessed it — California surf music.

Bloomington may be fortunate Susan’s band went nowhere as she now leads us boldly into the 21st Century. But alas, the world suffers.

What a chick troika it could have been — Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Susan Sandberg.

Or, The Dem Girls — Regina Moore, Susan Sandberg, & Isabel Piedmont-Smith

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

This is a No Spamily, No Brattle zone.

◗ My old East Pilsen neighbor and pal Rachel Thole, now of the Bay Area, links to an Onion newscast that would be freaking hilarious — if it weren’t so uncomfortably close to a serious newscast.

Al Yellon of Chicago was hot on this Saturday night, beating NPR by a day and a half. Seems that there’s a reality show about Muslim families living in the Detroit area. It shows them — get ready for this shocker — as normal, everyday Americans. Well, this just won’t do; this holy land’s Christian Taliban blew a gasket and threatened to condemn the show’s advertisers to hell. As far as I’m concerned, hell is having to live in a world where religious fundamentalists call the cultural shots.

Jan Takehara of — where else? — Chi-town, reminds us of Dion DiMucci, former front man for Dion & the Belmonts and, later, a solo act. Dion recorded a beautiful and touching song after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Abraham, Martin, and John” became a hit in late 1968. It was the first song that ever made me cry. To this day, I still tear up when I hear it.

Hey, Bloomington Facebookers: you’re falling down on the job. Start posting some stuff I can use here, okay?

ANYBODY HERE SEEN MY OLD FRIEND…?

Here’s Dion’s (and Dick Holler’s) homage to King:

The Pencil Today:

WHICH TURKEY DO YOU WANT IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

My left-tilting friends and acquaintances seem to be divided into two camps these days.

Some of them are hanging on to the Democratic Party by their fingernails, holding out hope against hope that the electorate can keep enough Dem legislators in the halls of power so that, for instance, women aren’t forced to wear some Christian version of the burqa.

Others have given up completely on the jackass gang.

Bloomington Common Council member Susan Sandberg, for one, is firmly entrenched in the former group. Well, natch, she feeds at the public trough, living high on the hog, shouting “Let’em eat cake!” as her carriage careens around the corner at Kirkwood and Walnut. It’s shocking how the princely sum of $14,000 a year can corrupt a person.

She’s the Dems’ darling in this micro-lopolis.

Then there’s my old pal Jerry Boyle, the radical attorney from Chicago. He’s so down on the Democrats in general and their standard-bearer, one Barack Obama, aka POTUS, that he’s washed his hands of the lot of them. He’s gone so far as to call Obama a “traitor” to the left, which would make sense only if Obama had been a leftist at one time or another. I’ve yet to come across evidence he’s ever been.

Those as ancient as I am remember the term “Rockefeller Republican” from the sixties. There can be no better modifier of the man in the White House today.

Now, Susan Sandberg will be standing on her head during the next 49 weeks, trying to convince voters to put Dems in office. Jerry Boyle already has publicly advocated letting Obama et al flop next November. In fact, Jerry has hinted that maybe the smarter vote is Republican. His reasoning? Let the GOP be in charge when the whole house of cards tumbles so they can take the rap for it.

Which seems to me akin to cutting your nose to spite your face as well as the faces of some 308 million other poor souls.

I’m not thrilled with the Obama presidency. He’s proven himself much too comfortable cozying up to the unindicted corporate and banking felons who whipped the economy into its current grave state.

Obama: “Some Of My Best Friends Are Robber Barons!”

He’s less a leader than a consensus-seeker, which might be an asset if the other side had any inclination to consent. They don’t. It’s better, on Planet GOP, to demonize Mexicans who sneak into the country, to throw around terms like “socialist” without knowing what it means, to blame all our problems on NPR, and to wring hands obsessively over the very idea of two men tongue kissing.

That said, I’ll vote for Obama no matter whom the Republicans nominate. For one thing, I have to keep up my lifelong record of never having voted Republican. Go ahead, tell me I’m close-minded — you bet I’m close-minded. I long ago slammed shut my cranial door on the party that could fight tooth and nail against something so innocuous as the Equal Rights Amendment.

It’s one thing to have an open mind but you can’t have it so open that your brains fall out.

So, I’m thankful today that we have a (half) black president who is nominally a Democrat. He ain’t everything I’d want but, then again, neither is life.

Today: Friday, November 11, 2011

SNAKE EYES

Sorry, No. Try Again.

Eleven. Eleven. Eleven. Last time for that numerology oddity until the next century.

The good thing is the world hasn’t spun out of orbit — as far as I can tell. Hold off your worries about that until next year, you know, 2012.

DEMOCRACY HERE AND NOW

Hallelujah! Monroe County has a winner. Several, as a matter of fact. Results from Tuesday’s election finally were announced yesterday. Oh, and Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins is still at large.

Wanted: Linda Robbins. Suspect May Be Armed (with paper ballots).

Bloomington’s three incumbent at-large Common Council members have been reelected. Tim Mayer, Susan Sandberg, and Andy Ruff all outpolled the two lone Republicans on the ballot (the two, in fact, may be the lone Republicans in Bloomington, period.)

In the only contested district race for the Council, incumbent Dem Chris Sturbaum whupped newcomer KC Baker to keep his seat in the First.

Not That KC, Silly!

Our KC is also a Republican so there are at least three of them in our town now.

Did I mention Mayor Mark Kruzan and City Clerk Regina Moore retained their offices after all the ballots were counted? They ran unopposed, of course. Sheesh. And people say my hometown of Chicago is a monolithic, single-party kingdom.

IS IT LEGAL TO SPANK COLLEGE STUDENTS?

You thought I was steamed yesterday when I wrote about the Penn State knuckleheads who rioted because football Coach Joe Paterno was fired? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Tomorrow is PSU’s last home game of the season. Extra security forces have been called in — the Pennsylvania State Police will beef up its contingent to help State College and campus cops keep a semblance of order. One regent from visiting Nebraska wants more protection for his “student-athletes.”

State College police spokesman Capt. John Gardner described the situation in terms of war. “Each time they (rioters) up the ante, we’re going to up the ante too,” he promised.

This Means War!

But here’s what’s frying me. Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary won’t be anywhere near Beaver Stadium. Why not?

Well, the no good rat had the gall to report that he’d seen a former assistant coach having sex with a ten year old boy in the PSU football facility shower room in 2002. That revelation, stonewalled and sat upon by university officials — including Joe Paterno — led to the firings of the legendary coach and the university’s president Wednesday. At least three people including Jerry Sandusky, the alleged child molester, have been charged by a Pennsylvania Grand Jury so far in the ongoing scandal.

Naturally, a lot of faithful Penn State football fans have responded. They’ve sent death threats to McQueary.

Off With His Head!

Imagine that! The no-goodnik wrecked everything for Penn State football. Just because he saw some child being sodomized by a grown man.

Grrrr. I’d like ten minutes alone in a room with any of the entitled little white rats who rioted Wednesday or sent those death threats to McQueary. And you know most of those reprobates are having fun with McQueary’s surname — as in Mc-Queer-ey.

When it comes to knuckleheads like them, a college education is a terrible thing to waste.

By the way, pretty boy actor Ashton Kutcher had to shut down his Twitter account yesterday because he expressed outrage that Joe Pa would be fired over such a trivial thing as ignoring the pederasty that was going on right under his nose.

I think they’d better start testing the water in the production studio of “Two and a Half Men.”

Sheen & Kutcher: What Have They Been Drinking?

SLIME PAYS

As if all this isn’t crazy enough, former mediocre pizza company boss, radio talker, shameless self-promoter, and Republican presidential nominee front-runner Herman Cain reports that his campaign contributions have actually gone up since four woman have come forward to report what a slick and smooth romeo he is.

Now, Let’s Talk About That Job You Want.

NUMEROLOGY’S EFFECT ON PLANETARY MOTION

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the world is spinning out of its orbit after all.

Earth’s Orbit, Pre-11/11/11

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