Inhuman Swill : October 2011

The final trip

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Of 2011, I mean. This has been one crazy travel year. Seems like every other week we're rushing off somewhere or other, and we're kind of tired of it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. It's been a great year, a ton of fun. Well, Laura travels all the time for work, and that's not always fun, but as far as personal trips go this year between the two of us we've been to Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, St. Louis, Lake Geneva, a hunting lodge in southern Illinois, Waukesha, and then New York City at least four times. Also, Venice, Paris, many small cities and towns in Normandy, and we even spent three days with friends from London at Disneyland Paris. I keep meaning to post here about all those trips, but I haven't even had time to sort out and label all the photos on Flickr. Every time I think about it, it's time to pack for another trip.

I'm posting this trip report preemptively from our flight to San Diego. Yes, we're on our way to World Fantasy, even though we don't have memberships. We hope to see a shit-ton of you there, because it might be our last chance to see you until you come to Chicago next summer for Worldcon. (You are coming to Chicago next summer for Worldcon, right?). This is absolutely our LAST TRIP of the year, and the only one we intend to take next year is to SXSW in March.

Yeah, right. Just wait and see how that works out for you, buddy.


Ella Vader 2012 13-Month Calendar
Hi, gang! The new Ella calendar for 2012 is available now from Lulu.com. It features thirteen months of great collages of all your favorite Ella photos from 2011—well, okay, all mine and Laura's favorites—and it retails from Lulu.com for the low, low price of only $17.99.

But wait! For a limited time only, we're offering a 20% off discount. That's a whole year of Ella for only $14.39. But wait! Through tomorrow you can take another 20% off that already crazy price if you use the discount code BURIED at checkout. That's only $11.51 plus shipping and handling. What a steal!

Click below and buy now, and keep the Dog Lord of the Sith on your good side!

Ella Vader 2012 13-Month Calendar

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WTF with Marc Maron
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dear Marc Maron

For some reason this is a hard letter to write. I'm a relatively new fan of your podcast and your comedy, having come to it all through the broadcasts on WBEZ, but it seems like ages I've been trying to compose a thank you to you in my head. I mean, how hard should it be just to say I appreciate what you do and your show means a lot to me? Especially for a writer like me.

I'm 44 years old. My wife and I live in Chicago. I'm a writer, mostly of science fiction. Nothing glamorous like film or TV—I'm talking the basic stuff, prose on a page. None of which really explains why I've been chewing my way so voraciously through your podcast archive, or why I feel such a connection to what you do.

Part of it, I guess, is some of the weird correspondences with my life. I was born in Highland Park, for instance, where you now live, though I only lived there until I was six. (I was in L.A. in February, and I called my mom in Utah and told her I was planning to go visit the old house on Aldama Street. She said, "Oh, I don't think that's a very good idea." I went anyway with my buddy Ashir—the neighborhood was fine—and was surprised to see how small the house was, to remember how steep the hill was, and to hear parrots or some shit squawking in the big old trees.) I lived in Astoria for a long time, same as you, and it might be the best place I've ever lived. (Did you ever eat at Kabab Cafe on Steinway near 25th Ave? My favorite place in the world.) You have hassles getting into Canada—I can't even go to Canada, thanks to a ridiculous incident in Calgary when I was a stupid young 19-year-old Mormon missionary. (It's a long story.) I was on Air America ... um, one time, when Ron Kuby interviewed me a couple of years ago about a podcast I was doing. (See how I'm grasping at straws already? I should reassure you that I don't think there's some mystical, brothers-under-the-skin bond here. Cats are nice, but I'm a fucking dog person, okay?)

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Boxed in

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The truck that boxed me into the alley behind Tweet
One of Chicago's great selling points as a "livable" city is its alleys. Unlike New Yorkers, Chicagoans can stash their smelly garbage bins out back and keep them off the sidewalks. If they're lucky enough to have a garage, like we do, they don't even have to worry about parking on the streets, and if they do have to park on the streets they don't have a plethora of driveways to worry about avoiding. And best of all for me, walking Ella through our neighborhood's alleys inspired large chunks of the novel I'm working on.

But there's a darker side to alleys, too, which I was reminded of earlier this afternoon as I was driving over here to the Writers Workspace. As I turned into the alley that leads to the little parking lot behind the workspace, I found my way blocked by a huge garbage truck. That was no big deal in and of itself, just a little annoying, since I could circle the block and come into the alley from the other side. But there was a day a little over a year ago when I didn't have as pleasant an experience with trucks in an alley.

It was early on a sunny weekday afternoon, and I had gone to a favorite haunt called Tweet (no relation to Twitter) for a very late brunch. Tweet has a tiny lot out back off the alley where patrons can park for free, which is what I did. That block is pretty long, and as I drove in from the south end of the alley I could see a big moving truck way up at the north end plugging that exit. I wondered briefly if parking in the lot that day was a good idea, but I didn't want to try to turn the car around and hunt for street parking.

After a leisurely meal while I got some work done on my laptop, I headed out back to leave. I backed the car out and was heading north up the alley before I realized that the moving truck was still there. Oh well. South, then.

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Some of you know I co-produce and co-host a monthly reading series, Tuesday Funk, at a great little bar here in Chicago. At our October event about three weeks ago, I read my story "The Visitors at Wriggly Field," which was written two years ago in support of Chicago's Worldcon bid and concerns a very unusual World Series matchup in 2012.

You can read more here about how it came to be written, but since the text of the story is no longer available online, and since Game 6 of this year's World Series is tonight, I thought it would be a good time to share the video of the reading here. I hope you like it. Go, Cubs!

And catch more videos from Tuesday Funk here.


They finally caught up with me. It was bound to happen eventually.

It was Sunday evening. Laura and I had only been back home for a couple of hours after a long weekend in New York City. The doorbell rang. We had placed an order for Indian food only about twenty minutes earlier, so I grabbed a fistful of the cash I'd left on the sideboard and went down to answer the door.

It wasn't our food delivery. It was a pair of well-scrubbed young men wearing dark suits and black name tags. Yep, it was the Mormon missionaries.

"Hi, I'm Elder McAlister, and this is my companion Elder Nielsen," said the first. "We're looking for Donald Shunn?"

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Ella is eight

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Flying bear!
Today the fabulous Ella turns eight. This morning, to celebrate, I took her to the beach for her morning walk. She flung herself off a ledge of sand, and it was so cute that I asked her to climb back to the top and jump off again so I could take a picture. She is such a good dog, she did just what I asked.

I made my first ever post about Ella on April 12, 2004. That was just a couple of days before Laura brought her home from the Chicago suburbs to our Queens apartment. Ella a little over six months old. She's been part of our family now for nearly seven and a half years, and it's hard to remember a time when she wasn't with us.

Happy birthday, Ella! We look forward to celebrating eighty more with you.

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A higher attraction

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If we were zombies
I promise you that I would
love you for your brain


Just boarded a Southwest flight from Laguardia to Midway. My carryon bag got pulled out of the X-ray machine at security for extra screening. After swabbing my bag thoroughly and testing the samples, the TSA officer took my paperback copy of A Feast for Crows out of my bag and flipped through it.

"I need to rerun your bag with the book outside of it," she told me.

Apparently George R.R. Martin is too dense a read for the TSA.

(By the way, my Tupperware container of cannoli made it through fine. Thanks, Barbara Lynn and Colin!)

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William Shunn

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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