Inhuman Swill : April 2009

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April 20, 2009

Laura running Boston

So Laura is right now running the Boston Marathon. She passed the 10K mark (almost a quarter of the way) a few minutes ago, and is running a 9-minute pace. If she maintains that, she'll come in under four hours. I'm incredibly proud of her!

You can track Laura's progress here. Her bib number is 18649. Three more hours!

I'm about to take the T out to Boston College to try to spot her there.

boston | incredible feats | laura | marathon | running

April 19, 2009

Open letter occasioned by receipt of yet another forwarded email that sows only suspicion and hate

Dear email forwarder—

Please don't mistake my opinion on the email as any condemnation of you or your character. But here's what I see as the danger of forwarding emails like that one: The information in them is only vaguely sourced, and the contents may not be accurate. The email has been forwarded a hundred times already, and may have been changed or added to along the way. The people who receive the email may just hit delete, but they may also read it and decide that it's true without doing any thinking or investigating of their own. I think that before you forward an email like that, you have a responsibility to investigate it for yourself and find out whether or not it's accurate. Otherwise you are spreading something that is no better than gossip, and potentially very damaging.

I did some investigation online and discovered that the account by Rick Mathes has been disputed by credible sources that were present at the event in Missouri where he claimed the discussion took place. You can read all about the doubt that has been cast on his account here:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/allah.asp

When you forward an email like this, how can you trust that the recipients will investigate the truth of it for themselves when you haven't even taken the trouble to? The most likely outcome is that people will just accept what it says without thinking, because the email tries to sound credible, and most people are fooled by credible-sounding messages that only reinforce their fears. I would encourage you to send the link above to all the people on your list who received the first email and offer them an alternate point of view.

Muslims around the world are no more unified in their beliefs than Christians are. (Think about how differently Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists all believe.) Some of the most interesting conversations I've ever had came from sitting down across a table from people with opinions very different from my own, everyone from Anglican ministers to old Egyptian men in Queens to regular joes in Jordan, and talking honestly about our separate beliefs. What I've always come away from those conversations with is a feeling that, however divergent our beliefs, the only way we're all going to get along and stop hating each other is through talking and learning to see that the other person is not all that different from us deep down where it matters.

Sincerely,
Bill

christianity | email | hate | islam | religion | research | suspicion

April 16, 2009

Happy days in Manhattan, or one at least

My scotch-loving friends in New York will want to hear about an email I just received from the Brandy Library. (Yes, I can't bring myself to unsubscribe from their mailing list.) The 16th Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is coming to the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday, May 7. Find all the information you need here. And if you go, knock one back for me.

manhattan | nyc | scotch | whisky

April 14, 2009

Doing time with Ron Kuby

Listen for me today on a radio near you!

I'll be a guest this afternoon on "Doing Time with Ron Kuby" on the Air America radio network. We'll talk about my memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, and about the new podcast in which I'm serializing it. Again.

That's today—Tuesday, April 14th—at 5:00 pm Eastern. I hope you'll tune in.

To find your local Air America station, or to listen to the live online audio stream, please visit:

AirAmerica.com

appearances | events | media | memoir | mormonism | podcasts | radio | terrorism | writing

April 8, 2009

Reading debriefing

The reading at Flourish Bakery Cafe was a great success last night. I had a terrific time. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen, including all the crew from Imagination, and especially to Steven Silver and [info]stonetable, neither of whom I'd met before, and each of whom schlepped quite a way to be there. And big thanks to Hallie Gordon and Connor Coyne of Gothic Funk Nation, who made the whole evening possible.

If you missed it, I hope I'll have a chance to read at Tuesday Funk again later this year when my collaboration with Derryl Murphy, Cast a Cold Eye, comes out from PS Publishing.

chicago | events | literature | memoir | readings

Quorum of the Twelve Apostates

I have my breakfast stop to thank for another little gem this morning. The 31-year-old father at the booth next to mine (I know his age because it came up in his conversation) was summarizing news stories from the Sun-Times for his two young daughters, and I was listening in with half an ear over my eggs and coffee as I read Then We Came to the End.

Both my ears perked up when he mentioned Brigham Young University. You may have seen this A.P. story already:

Apostles, not apostates: BYU paper's ungodly typo
Thousands of issues of Brigham Young University's student newspaper were pulled from newsstands because a front-page photo caption misidentified leaders of the Mormon church as apostates instead of apostles....

The caption called the group the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostates." The mistake happened when a copy editor ran a computer spell check and apostate was suggested as the replacement for a misspelling of apostle....  [full article]

I almost sprayed coffee all over my book as the father transmitted the gist of the story. After he had explained the meaning of "apostate," one of the girls asked, "Did someone do it on purpose?"

"No, honey, it was just a mistake."

A delightful mistake. I wish I had a copy of one of those recalled issues. I think I'd like to be a founding member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates.

breakfast | lds | mormonism | news | typos | utah

Overheard at the breakfast counter

Old man: "Where are you going?"

Waitress: "India."

Old man: "Have you seen Slumdog?"

Waitress: "No."

Old man: "You need to see Slumdog."

Waitress: "I'm not going to that part of India."

Old man: "Every part of India is that part of India."

breakfast | chicago | india | overheard | travel

April 7, 2009

Notes from under the table

I had intended to tweet live from WhiskyFest Chicago last week but was thwarted in my efforts because I couldn't get a signal in the underground ballroom at the Hyatt Regency. I did, however, faithfully take notes as I went. As I transcribe them, we'll be able to see together 1) how poor my whisky-tasting vocabulary is, and 2) how far downhill that vocabulary rolled as the evening progressed. Ready?

WhiskyFest Chicago, 4/1/09
TOMATIN 18yo sherry finish
delicious, light, a bit caramelly, bright bright finish on front of palate
ARDBEG Airigh Nam Beist
more refined than Uigeadail peaty but a bit lighter
ARDBEG Supernova
Holy peat, Batman! It's like a scouring pad made of peat! I loved it!
GLENROTHES 1975
bursts in your mouth like a buckyball unfolding, nutty, strong flavor
SPRINGBANK 11yo madeira wood finish
very purple flavor, strong, delicious is that a winey taste?
BRUICHLADDICH Links
very subtle sherry-ish flavor. Yum! Not fireworks-y. Caramel.
TOMINTOUL Peaty Tang
Peaty but tastes more watery than I like—no competition for the 27yo
HIGH WEST
Fantastic ryes interesting vodkas, peach vodka
CHARITY POUR—BALVENIE 1976 single cask
bright, in your face, caramel explosion
EADES blends—
Islay—Bowmore 60%, Caol Ila 40% Highland—Ben Nevis 85%, Clynelish 15% Speyside—Longmorn 50%, Glen Moray 50%
MICHAEL COLLINS Irish (peated)
BULLEIT bourbon
ARRAN
reg (10yo) cognac
By my count, that was a grand total of twenty pours. The biggest surprise of the evening to me was High West Distillery, whose booth I had to visit when I saw they were from Park City, Utah. Their Rendezvous blend was simply the best rye I've ever tasted. All in all, theirs was my most-sampled booth, with five pours. I wanted to try everything they make, even the vodkas, which were startlingly good and unvodkalike.

Another high point of the evening came early, at the Ardbeg booth. When I professed my adoration of their Uigeadail, they insisted I sneak back for a sample of their rare Supernova, of which they had only brought 500 ml. So peaty it just about knocked me flat, but fantastic.

I started off the evening on the wrong foot, confusing Tomatin and Tomintoul at the Tomatin booth. Now, come on, I know the difference, and I'm a fan of both the Tomatin 12yo and the Tomintoul 27yo. But for some reason I tried to impress the Tomatin folks by professing my love of their 27, which earned me a gentle yet still embarrassing correction.

Charity tickets benefiting the Greater Chicago Food Depository were available for $20 a pop, entitling you to half an ounce of one of several rare donated whiskies. I went with a Balvenie 1976 single cask that was more than worth the money.

At some point in the second half of the evening, I stopped recording my impressions and wrote down only the names of what I tasted. I tried every Eades blend, but realized after two of the Arrans that I was probably approaching my limit. Free coffee, Fiji water, and a nice cabbie in a Scion helped me get home quickly and in one piece.

Next year I need company!

alcohol | chicago | spirits | whisky

Memoir-go-round

In 2006 and 2007, over the course of about 30 episodes of my "ShunnCast," I read my unpublished memoir The Accidental Terrorist, the story of how I, as a young naive Mormon missionary, came to be arrested for terrorism and permanently banned from Canada. The response was enthusiastic and overwhelming. Each chapter was downloaded thousands of times, and the memoir continues to be a great draw at my website. If you've listened before, I thank you for your support.

The Accidental Terrorist Now I'm serializing the book again, from the beginning. Why? As popular as those episodes were, the sometimes lengthy bracketing chatter about other aspects of my life and work made it impossible for listeners after the fact to sit back with every chapter and listen to the book straight through from start to finish.

This new podcast will change that. Starting April 7th and continuing throughout 2009, I'll post a new chapter from The Accidental Terrorist every Tuesday morning. Most of these will be excerpted from the original "ShunnCast" episodes, but a handful in which I've made significant revisions since the first podcasts will be newly rerecorded.

Most Friday mornings, I'll post a short "Setting the Record Straight" installment, also excerpted from the original episodes, in which I'll talk about what elements of Tuesday's chapter may have been slightly exaggerated in the writing of the book, and which others hew close to reality.

By then end of the year, you'll be able to listen to The Accidental Terrorist straight through, without any editorial interruptions from me. But don't worry—if you like the longer, more chatty episodes, I'm continuing to do that in my occasional "ShunnCast" outings, along with readings of short stories and other materials.

The premier episode of the reconstituted Accidental Terrorist podcast is up and available. I hope you have fun listening, whether or not it's the first time.

memoir | missionaries | mormonism | podcasts | radio | religion | writing

April 6, 2009

ShunnCast #54

Epidode #54 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill, in celebration of the first Hugo nomination for John Klima's Electric Velocipede, reads the earliest of his four stories to appear in that fine little 'zine so far.

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=54

See also [info]shunncast.

horror | podcasts | radio | science fiction | shunncast | writing

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