Inhuman Swill : Page 131
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Drainstorm

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Speaking of which, the basement disaster has made Laura and me feel better about the fact that we have to move before the middle of January. Yes, the landlord managed to sell the house for right around his megabuck target. Bully for him, you know? Twelve days on the market—the realtor only showed the place once, and even then the apparent buyer only looked at the back yard. This is not the action of someone who plans to fix up the house and continue renting it out.

So our landlord is a freshly minted millionaire, and we're moving. C'est la vie.

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Rainstorm

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or, It's No New Orleans, But It's Ours

I arrived home in Queens last night at about eight, leaving the cab and making my only slightly tipsy way down the way to the backyard. And that's when I heard a most disturbing sound, a good deal louder than the incessant rain itself:

Rushing water.

Like many yards in the region, there were several inches of water in ours:


The yard this morning, after the water had receded some

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Brainstorm

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Toilet partition slide latch
So, for some weeks now, the slide latch on the inside of one of the two stalls in the men's room on the floor of the building where I work has been broken. The little knob that screwed into the tongue was prone to fall off, and then there would be nothing to keep the tongue itself from sliding right out of the latch and falling on the floor. I had myself reassembled this little mechanism many times in the past, but then came one sad day in July or August when the parts were nowhere to be found. Now one could only hope to find both stalls empty upon entering, and therefore be able to choose the one that still did latch.

Now, for the past few days, upon losing this perverse race and having to enter the unlatchable stall, the first thing I've seen upon entering said stall is a toothbrush that some unfortunate left sitting atop the toilet paper dispenser. For days, the forlorn toothbrush had not moved. I had, in fact, vaguely considered leaving a note for its owner, should he ever arrive to reclaim it, suggesting that it be boiled thoroughly before its next use, or preferably just thrown away.

Yesterday afternoon, however, upon entering the stall and still seeing it there, I had a new thought. I looked at the toothbrush. I looked at the latch. I looked at the toothbrush. I looked at the latch. I wasn't sure the handle of the toothbrush was flat enough for my purpose, but there was nothing to lose by trying. So I tried.

And by God, I latched that stall.

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You're so identifiable

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I was listening to Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" just now, and for some reason one of the backup singers on the chorus caught my ear. After a couple of more choruses, I was sure I was hearing Mick Jagger.

Google to the rescue. Sure enough.

(P.S. I'm listening to a playlist of insult songs just now.)

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Necessary insignificance

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Hendrik Hertzberg's "Talk of the Town" piece on Harriet Miers is well worth reading in full. It concludes:

Sinking Miers's nomination would give Democrats the satisfaction of dealing Bush a defeat while at the same time striking a blow against the intellectual degradation of the Court. But Bush's next nominee would almost certainly be both more distinguished and more provably, fearsomely right wing. To fracture the formula of a founding father of modern conservatism, mediocrity in the defense of moderation isn't much of a vice. And excellence in the pursuit of extremism is certainly no virtue.

However the Miers nomination turns out, the fact that Bush submitted it is an unflattering reflection on his character. In the Federalist No. 76, Alexander Hamilton writes that the Senate's role in confirming appointments is designed to make the President

both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.
Hamilton was no naïf about human nature, but in the present case his formula seems to have underestimated the Presidential capacity for both shamelessness and—well, courage isn't quite the right word. Arrogance.  [full article]
That's a mild word for it.
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Proof

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I received my page proofs for "Inclination," my Asimov's story, in the mail last night. Damn, [info]asphalteden, but you run a tight ship! I appreciate having precise instructions on how to mark the copy.

Rereading parts of the story on the train this morning, there were certainly sentences I wanted to tear down and rebuild from scratch. (Don't worry, Brian—I will resist manfully.) But I was relieved to see that the story could still hold my interest.

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Keep your friends close

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Laura and I, like many of you, are listening to the president nominate his White House counsel, who has never served as a judge, to the Supreme Court, and we are feeling angry and nauseated.

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Terror in the air-er

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Call me an ice-veined flyer, but I really want to see both Red Eye and Flightplan. Had a chance to see the latter for free last week and missed it. Kicking self now.

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Roger Ebert points out to us today that "The Greatest Game Ever Played was a game of golf, in case you thought your team might have been involved." Ha.

Laura and I saw a preview screening of The Greatest Game Ever Played Monday night. Structurally it was a mess—the first third or so succumbs to the lack of clarity about people, places, and relationships that seems to plague based-on-a-true-story period pieces. But even so, we both found the movie unexpectedly involving, and by the end we were both so caught up in the final match that we were clutching each other and applauding.

Bill Paxton's direction* calls maybe too much attention to itself, particularly in flashy CGI shots that follow golf balls along their dizzying trajectories, and Shia "Café" LaBeouf is good but not distinguised in the lead role. What makes the movie gripping, though, is that the showdown is between two very likeable characters who respect each other, either of whom we would be happy to see win.

Anyway, if you don't mind a blatantly manipulative, crowd-pleasing, feel-good historical golf epic, you'll probably enjoy this. We did.


If you like a good, dark, thoughtful thriller that successfully wrestles with Big Questions, see Bill Paxton's directorial debut, Frailty. It's harrowing. Highly recommended.

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Our own [info]bobhowe, if you didn't know, can now have the descriptor anthologist extraordinaire prepended to his name, as in anthologist extraordinaire Robert J. Howe.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, pop over to his place and get in line for some Coney Island Wonder Stories.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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