Category Archives: Tony Blair

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All I’ve done is run fast. I don’t see why people should make much fuss about that.” Dutch Olympic sprinter (1948) Fanny Blankers-Koen

THE FIVE RING CIRCUS OF SNORES

Very little that happens in London interests me. The royal family are a bunch of bores. Tony Blair was a puppy dog for George W. Bush. Soccer is a sleeping pill. The food is tasteless.

Bangers & Mash: British “Food”

And now the world’s most boring spectacle, the Olympics, is coming to the world’s most boring city.

Starting at the end of this month, the Olympics will be splashed on every newspaper, TV and radio station, and internet news site for two and a half weeks. Anybody looking for me during that span will find me easily — I’ll be the one who’s snoring.

Guaranteed, there’ll be endless pix of that new princess woman — what’s her name? Kate? Even her name is boring — attending one sporting event or another with equally endless analyses of what hat she’s wearing at the time. And, for pity’s sake, the damned country still has princes and princesses. In the 21st Century!

Princess Kate With A Growth On Her Head

The Olympics is an orgy of jingoism, tribal exhibitionism, nationalist pretension, and dozens of athletic events that are less riveting than watching a cat toy with a spider.

I won’t even mention the orgy of eye-rollingly predictable “personal stories” that’ll be forced upon the viewing public during the Games. Seems as though every elite athlete has a sick little sister who’s on her mind as she tries to out-pole vault some similar genetically exceptional gravity defier from, say, Gabon.

I Wonder How My Sick Little Sister Feels Right Now

I figured I had a few weeks of freedom from the Olympics before the big shebang commences on July 25th. (Yeah, yeah, the Opening Ceremony is slated for Friday, July 27th, but — go figure — soccer matches are scheduled to begin two days beforehand. When the Olympics isn’t boring, it makes no sense.)

My Olympics-free idyl, sadly, has ended early. Apparently, there are a bunch of Olympics trials going on right now here in this holy land. My neighbor Tom has been telling me he’s been watching the trials for days now, a piece of news that slipped right out of my skull seemingly before the sound of his words dissipated. The fact that athletes and the US Olympic Committee don’t even know at this late date who’s going to be battling for the gold seems fairly weird to me, but what do I know?

Runner 1: “So, You Going?” Runner 2: “Search Me.”

Anyway, the big news today is the cancelled run-off between a couple of women sprinters. The race was supposed to take place last night. All the news cameras were in place. People were actually talking about track and field. Then, suddenly, one of the participants up and quit.

Jeneba Tarmoh sent a message to USA Track & Field, the governing body for amateur athletes in the sport, saying she wouldn’t race Allyson Felix, whom Tarmoh had tied for third in an Olympics qualifying race a week and a half ago. Whoever finished third in that earlier race would be the final 100-metter sprinter to qualify for the USA team. Since Tarmoh and Felix tied, officials had to scramble for a way to determine who who’d be the anointed one.

Tarmoh & Felix Tie

The fact that it took officials more than three seconds to come to the brilliant conclusion that the two should, well, race against each other illustrates just how full of holy horseshit Olympics people are.

Swear to god, it was a week before USATF announced there’d be a run-off between Tarmoh and Felix. A week! USATF officials spent the intervening time wracking their brains trying to figure out how to determine which of the runners was faster.

Presumably, they ruled out a trivia challenge, an arm wrestling match, and a pie baking contest.

Tarmoh’s Pie Is Delicious — She Wins The Race!

Incredibly, officials first offered the two runners a choice between a run-off and — I’m not lying — a coin flip. Tarmoh and Felix wisely elected to race each other.

USATF President Stephanie Hightower said, “The bottom line is that this is, in my opinion, the best way to be able to resolve this issue.”

No kidding, professor.

Still, the run-off caused controversy. Fans, commentators, and commenters on sports and news websites actually argued over whether the runoff was appropriate.

Sheesh.

No matter now. Tarmoh has quit the runoff so the whole issue is dead. The way I’ll wish I’ll be while the Olympics is going on.

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

◗ IU Theater AnnexChildren’s musical,  “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” presented by Indiana Festival Theater; 11am

People’s ParkLunch Concert Series, Kid Kazooey & the Ballroom Roustabouts; 11:30am

◗ Madison Street next to Bloomingfoods, west storeTuesday Farmers Market; 4-7pm

The Venue Fine Arts & GiftsArt Hootenanny featuring patriotic singing; 5:30pm

Jake’s NightclubKaraoke; 6pm

Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — The Indiana Boys host the Muddy Boots All-star Jam; 6-8:30pm

The Player’s PubBlues jam; 8pm

The BluebirdBloomington’s Got Talent, hosted by Leo Cook; 8pm

◗ IU Auer HallChamber music, Afiara String Quartet; 8pm

The Afiara String Quartet

◗ Farm Bloomington, The Root CellarTeam trivia; 8pm

Ongoing:

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibit, “I’m Too Young For This  @#!%” by John D. Shearer; through July 30th

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibit, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts by Qiao Xiaoguang; through August 12th — Exhibit, wildlife artist William Zimmerman; through September 9th — Exhibit, David Hockney, new acquisitions; through October 21st

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryKinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st, 11am

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

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.

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