Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.
Here are a set of three very different articles, different in every way, one for each of the three beauty queens in John McCain's life:
The Daily Mail on Carol McCain:
"The Wife U.S. Republican John McCain Callously Left Behind" by Sharon Churcher
The New Yorker on Cindy McCain:
"The Lonesome Trail" by Ariel Levy
The Nation on Sarah Palin:
"Beauty and the Beast" by Joann Wypijewski
Sarah Palin doesn't know what the Bush Doctrine is, and her embarrassing attempts to weasel a clue out of Charles Gibson are not even worthy of a high-school forensics student:
Yes, Mrs. Palin, obviously you're ready to be President. I will sleep without nightmares knowing you will answer that three a.m. phone call with that blank deer-in-headlights stare. You make me pine for Dan Quayle.
NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered have begun a fascinating joint series that convenes a panel of voters from York, Pennsylvania, for a roundtable discussion of race and how it affects the 2008 election. (Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.)
Sadly, some of the conclusions drawn seem to bear out what I was saying yesterday about voting with the gut. One white woman, after swearing that she was raised in a home utterly without prejudice, proceeded to accuse Obama of lying about not being a Muslim:
Leah Moreland, the woman who said she grew up sheltered from prejudice, plans to vote for McCain. Party loyalty is also part of her decision. But her cultural compass also comes into play. She says her gut tells her not to trust Obama.
"I look at Obama, and I have a question in my mind," she says. "Years ago, was he taken into the Muslim faith? And my concern is the only way you are no longer a Muslim is if you are dead, killed. So in my mind, he's still alive."
I realized an odd thing yesterday, which is only meaningful to me. September 11th very nearly and neatly bisected my time in New York. I rolled into the city for the first time in a moving truck on (I think) October 9, 1995. Just shy of six years later, well, you know. And a bit shier of six years after that, June 30, 2007 (also my sixth wedding anniversary), we rolled back out of New York in a loaded SUV. Weird.
Three-time World Fantasy Award nominee John Klima has brought back the benefactor level subscription for his autumn Electric Velocipede subscription drive. For a mere $150, you get not just a lifetime subscription to the wonderful EV and everything else that Spilt Milk Press publishes, but you also get copies every issue of EV still in print, every Spilt Milk Press chapbook published so far (which includes my own Alternate History of the 21st Century), a copy of John's delightful anthology Logorrhea, and a T-shirt!
How the fuck can you go wrong? Become a damn benefactor today, already!
(BTW, I would tout EV even if my story "Timesink" were not scheduled to appear in the forthcoming double issue...)
My distraction of mind of late has been such that I haven't been able to finish reading many novels for a few months now, but for at least a year or two I haven't even attempted to read any novels of doorstop dimensions, finding them far too daunting to contemplate. But suddenly, praise Dickens, I can read again! And not only that, but I'm reading big books. The breakthrough novel for me was Clockers by Richard Price, which I raced through last week. This week I'm reading the even bigger Acacia by the gentlemanly David Anthony Durham, and I couldn't be happier.
I might even feel up to attempting Anathem next week.
Obsessing about politics is not all I've been up to lately. First and foremost, if you hadn't divined it from cryptic postings or from status messages on Facebook and Twitter, Laura and I are moving again this month. Not a huge move, just up to the northern end of Chicago, but we're hoping it will make all the difference for our Chicago-living experience. Humboldt Park turns out to be not the neighborhood we had hoped for, or thrive much in. (Even the fact that Wilco's John Stirratt lives a block down from us can't save it for us.) We're betting that the Andersonville/Ravenswood sorta area will be much better for us. We'll make the move just as the season changes.
We've also seen an uncommonly good deal of John and Shai Klima over the past week. On Saturday we drove to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and met up with them at the home of John's awesome parents. From there the four of us continued to Spring Green, where we saw a delightful outdoor afternoon American Players Theatre production of "The Belle's Strategem" by Hannah Cowley. We had dinner at a tapas joint called The Icon in Madison. Good times.
Then last night John and Shai braved oil-tanker accidents on I-88 to make the drive to Chicago. The four of us had an abundant Indian feast, after which we repaired to the House of Blues to see The Fratellis. Other than the slight hiccup of being barred from entering the House of Blues with a shoulder bag (what? no bag check inside?), we had a marvelous evening. I'm assuming that the Klimas made it back to Iowa in one piece after the show. (Didja?)
Meanwhile, I've been so wrapped up in packing the apartment that it didn't even register that two fellow Chicagoans are moving (in one case back) to New York! Congratulations (and no small amount of envy) to Deborah and scottjanssens! We hate you. (But only a little.)
Seven years on, what does September 11th mean? Nothing.
Perhaps it would be less confrontational to say it means everything, or anything.
I had a terrible argument with a relative of mine during those bleak last months of 2001. I said something to the effect that a person's experience of September 11th was more valid if he or she was there, or at least that's how, in my clumsy way of speaking, my words came across. My relative took great offense at the idea that he wasn't as affected in Utah as I was in New York City. "You're telling me," he said, "that you wouldn't feel bad if someone blew up the Church Office Building in Salt Lake?"
"Of course I'd feel bad," I said. "But I wouldn't feel the same way as a person in Salt Lake. It would be more abstract for me."