Inhuman Swill : Page 106
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Hard times at Kabab Cafe

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I was half-listening to WNYC this morning as I made the last preparations to leave, when suddenly I heard my friend Ali's voice on the radio. We had noticed that his restaurant, Kabab Cafe, has been closed since the blackout, and we keep stopping by to see if it is open yet.

Here is a transcript of the radio story.

I am going there for my birthday next week, should it be open yet by then, and would whether or not the place had had so much trouble. Those of you we've taken there will understand!

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Somehow, in general I think this list says a lot more about the people compiling it than about the books themselves. And it betrays a fairly anti-book, anti-education, anti-science bias.

And why isn't The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People on there? Ouch.

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Brigham Young & Crazy Horse

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Oops, sorry, I mean the Osmonds, from their hard-rockin' period:

I mean, seriously, this would have scared the shit out of me if I'd seen it on television at the time (1972). But they do seem to be having a great time going "crazy."

You know, Jimmy Osmond hit on my sister once at the BYU library....

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Over in her journal, [info]sallytuppence posed this question: "I'd like to hear, either in comments or linked to an entry in your blog, about how you started writing. I don't want to hear that you were a writer ever since you could hold a crayon in your chubby little hand, no. I want to hear about how you got serious as a writer. What catalyzed it? When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer?"

Though I've talked about some of this before, I thought I'd repost my answer here:

I suppose you could say I got the crayons from my first grade teacher. I was in a combined first/second/third grade class at Buchanan Street Elementary School in Los Angeles when I was six. It was October and our teacher announced a Halloween short story contest for the class. All the entries would be read aloud, and the class would vote on the winner.

Most of the stories were happy little tales of ghosts and haunted houses. I, who liked to scare myself watching bits of "The Outer Limits" and "Night Gallery" on TV when I wasn't supposed to, wrote a little story called "Rattlesnaks [sic] and Cobras." It was a first-person story where the narrator gets attacked by shapechanging snakes in his backyard and dies.

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Okay, okay, God, we get it. We'll curtail our greenhouse gas emissions a lot. We'll pour all our research dollars into alternative fuels. We'll stop fucking around with oil, not to mention fighting over access to that poison. Just, for Christs's sake, turn down the heat!

It looks like something out of an old animated cartoon. There are police vans with huge ranks of loudspeakers puttering around Manhattan, exhorting citizens to conserve electricity. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that affectless, amplified voice declaring that the end is nigh.
When I arrived at my office building today, I was alone in the elevator up. The elevator was cooler than the lobby, but not by a lot. The lobby in turn was cooler than out on the street by some.

I pressed the button for 12. It was the only button lit. The elevator started up.

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Worldcon schedule

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For those keeping score at home, I have my Worldcon schedule in hand:

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 4:00PM

THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM (Room 201 C, ACC, 60-90 mins.)
How we get the news is changing before our eyes. Newspaper circulation is down dramatically. Online blogs and podcasts have put reportage in the hands of average citizens -- for both good and ill. Advances in camera and satellite technology make it simple for reporters to bring the public stories from the most far-flung parts of the planet. What will the future bring? And how will we know what to believe?
William Shunn(M), M. Christine Valada, Esq., Tom Galloway, Cory Doctorow, Paul Fischer

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 5:30PM

A discussion of fantasy and science fiction plays, today and through history.
Laura Frankos, Keith G. Kato(M), William Shunn, Lise Eisenberg

Thursday, August 24th, 2006 5:30PM

Today's SF and fantasy films rely heavily on computer generated characters and effects. How can you bring them believably to the stage? Or should you even try?
Steve Collins, William Shunn(M), Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Janet Wilson Anderson, Brian Coghill

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The dread book meme

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I have been tagged with the Dread Book Meme by Jose over at Meme Therapy. As Trent Hergenrader has put it, now I've been rescued from impending productivity. Here are the questions:

  1. One book that changed your life?

    The Mormon Murders by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. And I was lucky enough to meet them once and tell them so.

  2. One book you have read more than once?

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ShunnCast #22

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Epidode #22 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill meets his new companion Elder Dedman, learns a novel new approach to tracting, and discovers the true meaning of the word "bucket."

See also [info]shunncast.

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My favorite song

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I've talked here before about the home music server I created, which lets me and Laura listen to any of our 43,193 (and counting) MP3s from any location with a web browser and a broadband connection. My server has been operating for nearly three years, though it was only in February 2004 that I enabled it to keep track of what I listen to.

I hadn't checked my stats for quite some time, but this morning I thought I'd take a look and see what my most-played tracks are. I was pleased though not exactly surprised to see that Steely Dan's "West of Hollywood" (from Two Against Nature) occupied the top spot, with 23 virtual spins in these past 29 months. Less than once a month may not seem like very heavy rotation, but it's pretty significant when you consider that in that same span I've only listened to 23,898 of the tracks in my collection. (That's unique tracks I'm counting there, not the number of times those tracks have been played.)

I figure this is as good a measuring stick as any for saying that, in practical terms, "West of Hollywood" is my favorite song. And it is a great song. The lyrics hook me and always suck me in, and when Donald Fagen gets to the bridge part and croaks out, "She reached out for my hand while I watched myself lurch across the room, and I almost got there, I almost got there," I never fail to get a shiver. But the best part of this track is the, like, four minute Chris Potter sax solo, where Donald and Walter put the poor cat through a truly punishing series of changes and he just doesn't quit. It's an amazing outro to an amazing record.

So yeah, that's totally fair. I'll cop to "West of Hollywood" as my favorite song.

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One right up the tailpipe

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After the various indignities of the day and long night, some of which were heaped upon me by others, some of which I heaped upon myself, I was finally on my way home from work last night at 2:15 am when the cab I was riding in stopped in the congestion that develops there after the east end of the Queensborough Bridge and was promptly rear-ended by another cab.

The speeds were low and the damage to the back bumper was negligible, but from my point of view it was like someone had slammed a refrigerator into my back. I got out of the cab and checked myself out, but I seemed to be okay. Nothing obviously injured. The cab drivers didn't fight or anything, but mine gave the other a stern lecture about tailgating. Both were very concerned about how I was.

I wrote down both medallion numbers just in case.

As we continued home, my cab driver complained of some neck pain. My back hurt, and my teeth ached, and my upper arm hurt a little, but it was difficult to sort out injury from shock and nerves. At home, Laura prescribed Advil and scotch. Mmm, Talisker. It helped me sleep, but of course it has not made waking up so easy this morning.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn