Inhuman Swill : Page 80
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.
            

Astoria Sidewalk
Every Sunday morning, Laura and I walk Ella through our neighborhood to Astoria Park for a pre-9:00 am romp with her friends. It takes about half an hour to get there. Last Sunday, Laura brought the camera along and took pictures.

Astoria has the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece, or so I am told. It's the kind of neighborhood with a Dunkin' Donuts on one block and a supper club called ΠANΘEON on the next. Astoria's sister city is Athens, which donated a couple of statues to a little park on 30th Avenue called Athens Square.

We don't always walk through Athens Square on the way to Astoria Park, but when we do Ella usually barks at the Socrates statue. (Had she lived in ancient Athens, she'd have been one of the citizens calling for the death of Socrates.) Sunday, though, she couldn't be bothered.

From Athens Square, it's another twenty minutes or so to Astoria Park. There's a children's playground in the park that overlooks the once-dangerous East River channel known as Hell Gate. Only in a Greek neighborhood would the playground be named after Charybdis, the ravenous sea monster of Greek mythology responsible for whirlpools.

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In the years since the Mormon material came down from my site, my ratio of clueless-to-clued-in email has dropped considerably. In fact, back in the old, old days, I had a feature called "Postmarked: Clueless" at the site that was devoted specifically to dissecting the most clueless of those emails. My favorite of all those emails was the first one I ever posted, from back in 1996. On a page linking to other ex-Mormons, I had written a little squib about the porn star Brandy Alexandre in which I praised her site for its "wit and intelligence," and for its "dearth of dirty pictures."

Ms. Alexandre herself sent me email to complain about what I had said about her:

Please do not advertise that my web site has "a dirth of dirty pictures". It does not and I'm proud of the fact that it gets so many hits each month without them.
What are you gonna do?

Sometimes I miss honest, old-fashioned cluelessness like that. Fortunately, this morning's mailbag brought me this gem, which may not be quite as amusing but does indicate a serious misreading of what my manuscript format page is all about:

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Great Googly moogly

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Today's Google logo for Earth Day is pretty poignant.

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ShunnCast #44

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Epidode #44 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill reads the second of three parts of his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated novella "Inclination."

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=44

See also [info]shunncast.

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The Week in green

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Our favorite paper news digest, The Week, has published this week's issue on the web, for free, without a paper version:

For one week only, The Week has published a full issue exclusively online, bringing a bonus issue to you at reduced impact to the environment.
Not a bad advertising technique, either. And when more people subscribe because of this, they can use even more paper!

(But the really bad part is, this issue is not so well suited for bathroom reading.)

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In answer to a question about how one ever sheds the "ex-Mormon" label, or if it's even possible, I posted the following, in part, over at the exmormon.org discussion boards, and thought it bore repeating:

As for shedding that ex-Mormon identity ... I try to, in some ways, but it's hard. I don't want to define myself in negative terms, in terms of what I'm not, but rather in terms of what I am: liberal, atheist, SF writer, husband, scotch connoisseur, what have you. But my Mo past is still a part of me, and always will be. I don't get as angry about the church as I used to, and consequently I feel like it has less power over me, which is a good thing. When I talk or write about the church now, I can take a more analytical view, rather than just unloading with both barrels of my righteous rage. Man, it's exhausting to be so angry all the time, and I find so much more balance now. I can write about the church now with both fun and serious intent, like in my story "Not of This Fold," but feel like I'm using that story to say something about the way humans are in general, rather than having it be specifically the way the Mormon Church screws people up and how pissed off that makes me. If that makes any sense.

So while I *am* an ex-Mormon, that's no longer how I define myself. Or at the very least, it's far from the only or most important ways I define myself.

Some of you will recall the moaning I've done here over the years about the latest flame from some rabid TBM, but since taking down the most incendiary of my Mormonism pages that really doesn't happen any more. Which is fine with me.

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Mope Boyd

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God, I wish I had seen this on The Colbert Report. Maybe I or someone else can track down the clip on YouTube.

(In the ex-Mormon online world, Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer is commonly referred to as Boyd KKK Packer because of his extreme fundamentalism and his stated desire to have church history whitewashed.)


Update:  Here's the video. Thanks, Brian!

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Gothamist today has a fascinating interview with wunderkind photographer Bill Wadman about his ongoing 365 Portraits project. Our own [info]steelbrassnwood gets a shout-out:

What's been the most interesting shoot so far? There are so many that it’s hard to single out one most interesting shoot, but there are a few that stick out in my memory. For example, back in February I shot a woman named Margot Stevenson on her 95th birthday, or the time I introduced myself to and shot Ken Ficara in Prospect Park, or this past Monday when I shot director Michael Kang in Washington Square Park. Each day is a different little story and I think that adds to the project. I've also become friends with a number of my subjects, which is a nice ancillary benefit.  [full interview]
(It's kind of funny that Bill says he introduced himself to Ken and shot him. Like a scene from a Brooklyn gangster movie!)

Besides Ken, friends of mine who've showed up on the site include Jordana Drell Rosen, Christopher Rivera, Nuno Santos, and the inexplicably controversial Nicki Bosch. (Oh, yeah, and there was mine, too, which I was very pleased with.) Laura signed up long ago, and while Bill and I both keep trying to twist her arm, she hasn't picked a date. Yet.

By the way, I think last night's portrait is one of the most stunning so far, simply in terms of color, composition, and the serendipitous appearance of birds.

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Rotary four

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[info]
Laura sent me the link to this YouTube video of a full four-minute round-trip on the conveyor belt at a rotary sushi bar. For some reason, watching it just made me feel happy, same as it did her. Oh, and hungry too.



That combined with a lunch out later today with my birthdaying workmate makes for a great morning at the office.

Oh, and ianmcdonald's latest, Brasyl, just arrived here at the office from Barnes & Noble via courier. (Same-day delivery in Manhattan rocks the free world.) I pre-ordered this months ago, and I had completely forgotten to expect it.

Oh, and Ella and I went to the park this morning for the first time in weeks. She had been limping a little, so we rested her until the limp went away. That makes four, four vonderful reasons to be happy today.

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Waxing the camel

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Last night was the end of an era. It was by only the most fortuitous of chances that we were there for it.

Laura and I had taken [info]curmudgeon to the incomparable Kabab Cafe before, to be entertained, charmed, and provoked by our friend Ali El Sayed's patter and transported by his food. With Laura and me moving soon, doing it again while Curmudgeon was in town was critical.

Turns out it was more critical than we knew. Ali told us, "I'm glad you are here tonight. Tomorrow I will be closed. I leave for 25 days in Egypt." He went on to explain that on his return, he will begin renovating Kabab Cafe—again. He will change the menu, begin serving breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner, and train chefs to take over for him. He will then take his menu over to his brother Moustafa's excellent nearby restaurant Mombar, where he will sometimes cook and sometimes help oversee operations of both restaurants. He will use his trip to Egypt to work out plans for the new venture.

The changes are exciting, since Ali finally won't be tied to his tiny kitchen. But it was also a poignant evening—the last night of the Kabab Cafe we've known all these years. There were only two other diners there when we arrived, but even with the pick of tables in the place, Ali suggested we sit in the niche near the door so he could talk to us over the counter of his kitchen. We drank too much Argentine Malbec while we enjoyed mixed appetizers of hummus, babaganouj, falafel, fried Swiss chard, apples, pears, and more; a more than appetizer portion of pumpkin dumplings in a spicy sauce; goat chops; beef short ribs; and an amazing dish of sand shark tail. I broke out a bottle of Balvenie Portwood 21yo I'd brought for us—Ali included—to enjoy along with dessert, which was a plate of selected Mediterranean pastries from the bakery down the street, together with yogurt and various fruits. I had thick coffee too.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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