Inhuman Swill : July 2009

Strange may not pass by

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As a fan of the band The Negro Problem, I was delighted to pick up the following throwaway tidbit from a New Yorker blog post by John Colapinto:

{Spike] Lee's next excursion into the question of race in America is his filmed version of "Passing Strange," the remarkable musical by [Negro Problem leader] Stew. I watched Lee shooting this production last June, in the Belasco Theatre in New York. The movie will be released, Lee tells me, in late August, at the IFC Center, in Manhattan.  [full post]
I learn from Stew's website that it's also been picked up by PBS for a Great Performances airing in 2010, and possibly will have a theatrical run this fall.

Having missed the run of Passing Strange in New York, I'm glad there are going to be multiple opportunites to see it.

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Our poor dog

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Morning sentinel
Ella's been having a rough time of it lately. Between thunderstorm season and fireworks season, she's been afraid to go outside after dark, and until recently she was starting to balk earlier and earlier in the day. (Yes, balk,, not bark.) We've been working with her very carefully to bring her anxiety level down, and it seems to be working.

I just hope she doesn't start shying away from the dry cleaners. Ella loves running errands in the car, and the dry cleaners is one of her favorite places to go. It's also one of our favorite places to take her, if only because it's one of the few businesses we frequent where we can bring her in with us. Usually Ella and I park in the lot out back, then walk around the corner to the front door. Ella knows where we're going, so she likes to dash ahead—around the corner and in through the glass door, which is usually propped open—while I brace myself so the tug on the leash doesn't dislocate my shoulder.

Okay, it's not really Ella's fault. It's not like she's a bird or something, attracted to her own reflection in glass. The door is usually, like I said, propped open. This afternoon Ella dashed ahead of me, like usual, and I cleared the corner of the building just in time to see her slam full force into the glass. I swear to God, she accordioned like a cartoon character.

She bounced off, shook her head, and seemed to be fine. But even as I was wincing and kneeling to make sure she hadn't broken something, I was wishing I had the whole thing on video.

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Some short Chicago fiction

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My new short story "A Strong Premonition of Death Struck Me This Morning" is now live at the Electric Velocipede blog. I think it was the first piece of fiction I ever wrote that's set in Chicago (though I'm now deep into a novel that's also set here in Chi-town).

Stick around at EV, order more drinks, and remember to tip your servers. I'll be blogging there all week.

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Writing from Starbucks
You may know that John Klima, editor of the award-nominated Electric Velocipede, has taken the month of July off from blogging. Instead, he's solicited posts from a variety of folks, including Jeffrey Ford, Chris Roberson, and EV assistant editor Anne Zanoni so far. We've all submitted material that's been going up bit by bit over the course of the month.

Next week is my week, and things will kick off Monday morning with a brand-new short story, "A Strong Premonition of Death Struck Me This Morning." I hope you'll check in at the Electric Velocipede Blog next week, and if you enjoy what you read that you'll consider grabbing a subscription to the fine print magazine.

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Analog Joe's

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Eight years ago, an old and dear family friend gave Laura and I two $50 gift certificates to Trader Joe's as a wedding present. We were delighted with the gift, having heard rumors of the legendarily magical contents of that high-end grocery chain, but we were somewhat handicapped having no access to an outlet in New York City. (This, children, was back in the days before Trader Joe's came to Manhattan, though I hear tell it's no easier to shop there now than it was before the locations opened.) The gift certificates went into the bottom of a drawer and were, for the most part, forgotten.

Three moves later, with all the jumbling of one's stuff that entails, we live on Chicago's North Side, and Trader Joe's is a frequent shopping destination. In particular, it's about the only place where we buy coffee beans. I make my own Bilmo Blend by grinding together the Trader Joe's House Blend and Trader Joe's Bay Blend in equal proportions. In any event, Laura dug up the gift certificates a few days ago in the course of looking for something else. There was no expiration date, so I took one to our local store this morning and filled my basket.

When I presented my gift certificate at checkout, my cashier was good-naturedly stymied. So was the bagger, who had been working there much longer. "I only know the kind you can swipe," the cashier said. "I don't know what to do with an analog giftcard."

In the end, it took three Trader Joe's employees to figure out how to deal with a gift certificate dated 2001. The nice thing was that they treated it as a challenging puzzle, not an analog annoyance. And I ended up forking over a mere $1.96 for my basket of groceries.

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William Shunn

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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