Inhuman Swill : Page 180
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Contractors are evil. I don't blame them for being the way they are, though. I'm sure they were brought up that way by their contractor daddies, as they were by theirs before that.

Our kitchen ceiling has needed fixing for months. It's plaster and lath—or was—and has been bowing alarmingly in the middle. Our landlord hired an Irish contractor to replace the ceiling, and after a few missed appointments the contractor showed up yesterday to get the work done. He set a hired hand to tearing out the ceiling and promptly vanished.

Well, the hired hand set straight to work—without putting plastic sheeting up anywhere. The dust is all over every room in the house. There's a cleaning lady here now, at the contractor's expense, but of course she's not doing more than a surface job. We're cleaning the really tough stuff, like the hundreds of books and CDs, the stereo, the cushions from every sit-upon-able piece of furniture. Our skin is gritty. We need the goddamn EPA in here, not some poor old lady who's being paid less than minimum wage to be here on Mother's Day.

We're not ones to tar an entire people for the sins of a few, but we're seriously considering postponing our Ireland vacation this summer because the accent will be too infuriating. "Trust me, lass. We'll have it lookin' good as new. Have a stiff drink. It'll all be fine." Yeah, when you're staked out on an anthill in our backyard on the longest day of summer.

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An appreciation of Spirited Away from SF Gate columnist Mark Morford. I couldn't have said it better than this had I tried:

After all, this is not dumbed-down feel-good "My Little Pony" smarm. This ain't Britney giggling in a bad tube top in "Crossroads." This is not a simplistic reductive self-righteous politically correct stiffly moral universe with wacky celebrity voices and lots of goofy spastic talking animals.

This is "Monsters, Inc." as blasted through a wry kaleidoscope and blessedly stripped of Billy Crystal and then shot through a Robert Anton Wilson novel. This is "Alice in Wonderland" with better acid, scary and strange and beautiful and warped and deliciously non-Christian, with witches and spirits and dragons and all sorts of wondrous sacrilegious magic the likes of which makes the Kansas state school board shudder and faint.

And oh dear God, how necessary and invaluable this kind of movie is right now. [read all]

Amen, brother!

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Saw Oscar Wilde's Salome last night with friends. Al Pacino as Herod, Dianne Wiest as Herodias, David Strathairn as Jokanaan (a/k/a John the Baptist), and an absolutely revelatory Marisa Tomei in the title role. I've never seen a more powerful evocation of the self-centered destructive petulance and entitlement of a sexually awakening child. Tomei's (veil-less) dance of the seven veils was alluring, arresting, and terrifying. It felt like something I shouldn't be watching. (Fortunately she didn't rip off her blouse during the dance, as she is reported to have done during one preview performance, so caught up in the moment was she. I don't know if my ticker could have taken it.)

Pacino is always fun to watch onstage, though the wheedling way he kept repeating the "Sahh-luh-mayyyyy" grated on my nerves. In an almost pleasurable way.

The play was staged as a reading. I emphasize "staged," because despite the fact that the entire cast had script books in hand, they didn't refer to them much. The play was obviously well-rehearsed, and designed to draw attention to the lovely language. As Laura said, the entire last third of the play, with the dance, then Herod's long long speech trying to talk Salome out of her request for Jokanaan's head, then Salome's long speech to Jokanaan's head, was riveting.

After the show, we were clustered on the sidewalk in front of the theater, but well away from the stage door where a crowd had gathered for a glimpse of Pacino. While the crowd was intent on their goal, David Strathairn ambled quietly out the front door of the theater in jeans and a sweatshirt, crossed the street, and then stood well down the block under the awning of the Hotel Edison watching the huge knot of theater-goers. When he realized that our group was watching him, he continued on his way. No one spoke to him, and no one seemed to have spotted him.

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Hey, computer desk for sale in Queens!

Yes, that's mine. Better price for friends. Laptop not included.

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I'm a high roller, baby

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Check us out:

True, it wasn't a cash donation, but still, I've never been such a high-rolling charity donor before.

(Oh, yeah, and this is a worthy cause you SoCal-ers should consider supporting.)

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You can't buy more than one MetroCard at MetroCard vending machines in the same day using the same credit card.

It's not that they tell you so explicitly, but if you try to buy a second MetroCard before the day is out, you get a mysterious "Temporarily unable to process payment" message.

Now, what's the point of this? To save us from our own excess?

This limitation is particularly vexing if you're, say, trying to purchase MetroCards for a group of folks, say, out-of-town visitors.

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Iraq 'n' roll

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My brother Tim is on his way to Iraq now. His unit flew out from Fort Lewis this morning and expect to end up somewhere not far south of Baghdad.

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Today's fortune

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Sesame kitten for lunch today. This was in my fortune cookie:

  • Your co-workers take pleasure in your great sense of creativity.
Somehow I'm not convinced.
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I walked over to Macy's on my lunch break to buy a new wallet, which I've needed to do for some time. Back at the office, I was transferring the contents from old wallet to new when I discovered a little cache of slips from fortune cookies. Here they are, combined with a handful of others that were littering my desk:

  • Unexpected romantic and financial gifts surprise and delight you!
  • Speak only well of people and you need never whisper.
  • A seeming unlikelihood should be taken seriously.
  • Record your history so others may benefit from it.
  • Your skill will accomplish what the force of many cannot.
  • Your [sic] are going to get fucked tonight.
  • A setback does not mean that you have failed.
  • You are a talented storyteller.
  • Your kindness is sure to be repaid.
  • The truth will surface on its own.
Of those ten, three were sitting on my desktop, and one was affixed to my monitor with the sticker from a banana. Another was a gag fortune from a party. I'm sure you'll have no trouble picking that one out.
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Lehi goes to Africa

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Self-proclaimed prophet Mr. Embaye Melekin of Eritrea has written to enlist me in his campaign to spread the news that the Book of Mormon, far from being American scripture, is actually a record of African origin. As he says at his web site:

I was compiling this book to be published, but the Lord said to me, "You shall not make profit out of my words," and hence, was instructed to release it to the public and without any compensation. That is precisely what I am doing now. I urge everyone of you to read it with understanding. If you have never been shocked in your lifetime, I promise you that you will this time, when you finish reading my compilation of the Book of Mormon. And if you have any doubts about yourself, please read the Abyssinian Book (BoM). It is a book that will uplift your spirit and would bring closer to your God and Redeemer.

The Book of Mormon was compiled around the Buri Peninsula, Matara and Adi KeyiH. The people of Akeleguzay are the primary beneficiaries of the book. They are the closest link to the Book of Mormon. So also, the Moroni Hamassiens, the MensA and Maryas and other tribes in Eritrea, as well as Ethiopians and the rest of Africa and the black race in general. It is the most wonderful book you will ever read in your lifetime. I promise you that. If you have never read any book before, this is the one you should never miss. Because, if you don’t know the content of this book, you might as well consider yourself a dead person. You should not consider yourself a living being if you don’t read this book and understand it. [read all]

Frankly, I think that encouraging someone who has never read a book before to start with the Book of Mormon is a good way to ensure that that person will never read another book. But maybe that's just me.

More provocatively, Melekin asserts that remnants of Book of Mormon stories can be found today in the folklore of the peoples of Akeleguzay, and he has made extensive annotations to the book's text to support his contention. However, I was unable to plow through his writings far enough to determine how the heck this African record is supposed to have ended up in Joseph Smith's hands. You see, Joseph was an unwitting agent of God who was destined to misinterpret the scripture he brought forth—though why his translation is trustworthy if his interpretation isn't, I also can't determine.

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William Shunn