Category Archives: Walter Cronkite

The Pencil Today:


“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.” — Jimmy Breslin


You had to know this was coming: Some whacked-out preacher says Big Sandy is God’s way of saying FU to America.

No, he didn’t actually drop the F-bomb. I wish he would have; I would have had more respect for the dumb bastard if he had.

O, Heavenly Father, Please Count To Ten

I’m not going to link to the story or reveal the preacher’s name. He doesn’t need me to pimp for him. And no one other than his deluded flock has heard of him before this. Now, of course, his name has gone national.

I’ll only say it’s his fervent belief that the god he prays to on his knees each and every night has thrown the gargantuan storm at the Eastern Seaboard because this land is full of lesbians, gays, and other miscreants. Not only that but President Obama is as thick as thieves with the Muslim Brotherhood and together they aim to destroy this holy land.

Which is weird because I thought he’d just finished saying god was in the process of doing that very thing. So, wouldn’t he figure that Obama and the Muslim boys are doing god’s work?

Oh, and somehow Mitt Romney has teed off the creator of the universe big time, too, only I didn’t quite catch how.

Take That, Queers And Arabs!

You know, this god needs to have a nice glass of wine or go for a massage. He’s constantly suffering from the red ass.

Maybe the prayers of the faithful should go something like, “Chill, Big Guy. It’ll all be cool. Take a breath.”

Funny how things like the Holocaust or Joseph Stalin’s purges or this nation wiping out the Amerinds failed to elicit a peep from the almighty daddy-o but a couple of guys making out makes him insane. I think he’s repressing something.


I just subscribed to a muckraking website that was recommended to me by a loyal Book Corner customer. FairWarning describes itself as a purveyor of “news of safety, health, and corporate conduct.” Which means it ought to be in business for at least the rest of this millennium.

Myron Levin: A Reporter, Not A Movie Star

Here’s a sample of headlines it has run recently:

  • Oil companies Rarely Punished for North Sea Spills
  • Senate Report Points to Medtronic’s Manipulation of “Independent” Medical Research
  • Young Blacks Awash in Alcohol Ads, Study Says
  • Commentary: A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage
  • Libertarian Group Prepares Bogus “Addendum” to Undermine Federal Climate Science Report

Founder Myron Levin founded the site after working as an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years. Photos of his staff portray a gang that’s decidedly seriously and flamboyantly non-glamorous. That’s cool by me — of the several billion brain cells I possess I’ve assigned perhaps six to the maniacal grin of Katie Couric and the rest of her colleagues in the corporate media “news” industry.

Please Stop It, Katie

In any case Levin and company are less polemic than the likes of Democracy Now! and far less precious than NPR. They are pure journalists, and isn’t that refreshing?


Here’s today’s CNN online headline:

Let’s get serious about things now. This is the nightmare we’ve been dreading ever since the two words “climate” and “change” were first put together by scientists.

You wonder why I’m so dismissive of corporate media news? This is the prime case in point. They insist on presenting the faux arguments of climate change deniers in the interest of some weird view of journalistic balance. It’d be like Walter Cronkite interviewing a representative of the Flat Earth Society while the Gemini astronauts circled the globe.

That Curved Surface Is Merely An Illusion, Walter


In honor of Sandy and dedicated to the loon preacher mentioned above, here are The Weathergirls, AKA Two Tons of Fun, with the biggest gay anthem of all time.

My club pals and I would go to the cavernous boy dance bars after hours back when we were young, trim, and loathe to ever go to sleep. The DJs would boost the bass and volume on this track to the point that I’m surprised the foundations and masonry of nearby structures didn’t crack. The joint would smell of leather, sweat, poppers, and Clinique. And we’d dance ourselves into delirium.

Don’t ask me how we survived it all.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

VOTE ◗ Two locations for early voting in Monroe County today:

  • The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm
  • Indiana University Assembly Hall, South Lobby, 1001 E. 17th St.; 10am-6pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Doctoral Recital: Ji Hyun Kim on piano; 5pm

MIXER ◗ Coaches Bar & GrillYoung Professionals of Blooomington, monthly event; 5:30-8:30pm

SCIENCE ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterCitizen Scientist Quarterly Meeting, Help collect data to track animal populations and monitor habitats; 6-8pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoJazz Jam, Featuring Bloomington’s young artists; 7pm

FILM & DISCUSSION ◗ IU Cinema — “The Healthcare Movie,” Followed by discussion led by Rob Stone, MD, Director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, Kosali Simon, PhD, & Beth Cate, JD; 7-9pm

COMMUNITY MEETING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryAfter Incarceration: Employment Matters, Presented by Decarcerate Monroe County; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubBlues Jam, Hosted by Bottom Road Blues Band; 8pm

GAMES ◗ The Root Cellar at Farm BloomingtonTeam trivia; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallHot Tuesdays: Jazz Combos, Wataru Niimori Group & Chris Knight Group; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdSleigh Bells; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopDavid Wax Museum, Daughn Gibson; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceComics Night; 9pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

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

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others: Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

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

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:


From the movie, “The Apartment,” by Billy Wilder:

C.C. Baxter: “Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.”

Fran Kubelik: (smiling) “Shut up and deal!”


So, I got some news yesterday morning. Good news. Problem is, I don’t know if I should brag or play it cool.

Aw, you know me. I’ll brag.

According to my Site Stats, The Electron Pencil has been viewed by people in the following countries: the US (natch), Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, Iraq, India, the UAE, and Australia.

The Mighty Electron Pencil Tower, In My Backyard

This being the Internet, I assume at least some of those hits are accidents, people misinterpreting a category listing for porn, or scammers trying to empty my checking account. Still, that’s 17 countries spread across all six habitable continents.

Cool, huh?


Some son of a bitch shot another endangered whooping crane dead recently. The incident was reported Friday to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One of only 500 or so of the rare birds left in the US, the crane was found in the Muscatatuck River basin near Crothersville in Jackson County.

The current population of whooping cranes has increased from an alarming low of 21 in 1941. Of the birds now living in the US, some 70 percent are wild; the rest live in zoos and private sanctuaries.

Some whooping cranes can grow as tall as five feet. They graze in marshes and fields, pecking for small animals, fish, berries, and grain.

Adults are brilliant white with black wingtips and red and black masks. A whooping crane liftoff is a spectacular site.

A Whooping Crane In Flight

Did I mention the guy or guys who killed the crane are sons of bitches?


Here is the defining snapshot of our holy land thus far in the infant year, 2012:

Billionaire big-city boss Michael Bloomberg smooches talent-free superstar Lady Gaga at the Times Square ball-dropping ceremony. Moments like these make me think it’s midnight in America, babies.


Look, Mitt Romney’s going to be the Republican nominee for president. He’s that party’s only near-centrist and he’s the savviest politician among the lot of them still in the running.

He’s The One

Remember how he dropped out of the 2008 race even though he was running virtually neck and neck with the eventual nominee, John McCain? Romney’s political instincts told him that the 44th Presidency was going to be defined by nothing so much as the nearly moribund economy.

I mean, Barack Obama’s in hot water only because the fallout from the Great Recession still is raining radioactivity upon us. People blame him for service cutbacks and unemployment even though he inherited from his four predecessors the conditions that caused those ills.

Four years ago, Romney figured, Why should I be the one to take that heat?

Smart choice.

So, when the GOP convenes in Tampa in August, that crafty pol will be the one telling the nation how fabulous things will be with him in the White House.

And Romney will hold up the arm of his running mate. But who will that be?

Mark it, dude, it’s going to be the right winger from our worst nightmares. The GOP’s most energetic base still considers Romney to be Abbie Hoffman with an expensive haircut. He’ll have to throw them the veep of their choice as a bone.

I get this creepy feeling we’re going to be longing for the good old days of Sarah Palin next November.

HELLO 2012

New Year’s Eve was a quiet affair at Chez Pencil. The Loved One and I stayed in and made some homemade pizza vanish.

We watched a couple of movies that, by happy coincidence, contained New Year’s Eve scenes: Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.”

The Little Fellow Awaits His New Year’s Eve Guests

The years, oddly, seem to be getting shorter. I wonder if calendar makers are cutting back during these tough economic times.


A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

Retro-junkie and film/vid producer Mike Flores posted a link to this old Bob Hope wisecrack last week.

Funny thing is, Hope could have told the joke exactly the same way except substituting “Republican” for “Democrat” and the other half of the country would have roared and said, “How true!”

We all think we’re brilliantly perceptive and the other side is either stupid or mesmerized.


This is a gem, a clip from a 1965 documentary on Frank Sinatra. Say what you will about him, he was an artist. This clip, in fact, features three artists: Sinatra, of course; the conductor Gordon Jenkins; and the announcer, Walter Cronkite.

Sinatra in the studio was demanding, mostly of himself. His phrasing and articulation were stunning. His ear was almost inhuman in its sensitivity.

Sportswriters talk about superstars who raise the game of their teammates. That’s what Sinatra did for the other musicians in the studio with him.

Well, we didn’t blow ourselves up in 2011. We’re still here and plugging away, albeit clumsily and often stupidly. In that sense, it was a reasonably good year. Let’s see if we can get another thing or two right in 2012.

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