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

Nebula nominee William Shunn

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The final ballot for the 2001 Nebula Awards was posted this morning in the newsgroups for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Americas. It hasn't been released officially yet as far as I know, but I can't help shouting out that "Dance of the Yellow-Breasted Luddites" made the ballot. I still can't quite believe it. (I've made the preliminary ballot before, which is essentially the Nebula semifinals, but this is the first time I've made the final ballot.)

WOO-HOO!

The other nominees in the novelette category are Amy Sterling Casil, Andy Duncan, James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, and James Morrow—great company, including a couple heroes of mine.

As soon as the ballot is announced at the SFWA Web site, I'll post a link.

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The Veil Beyond the Veil

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A couple of nice happenings this week. The official preliminary Nebula ballot came out, and my story "Dance of the Yellow-Breasted Luddites" is there in the best novelette category. I also got my contributor's copies of the next issue of Realms of Fantasy, which contains my story "The Veil Beyond the Veil." Should hit newsstands February 1st or so. More info in [info]missionaryman's journal.

Also, Laura and I had an absolutely lovely date yesterday afternoon and evening. First we hit the American Museum of Natural History. We have a dual membership to the museum so our admission is free, but special exhibits cost extra. Well, we only intended to bum around for a while, but a departing couple offered us their 4:30 tickets to the Butterfly Conservatory exhibit, which we gladly accepted. The Butterfly Conservatory is marvelous, a humid habitat for butterflies that visitors can walk through, and we were fortunate enough to be there during the four-day lifespan of the gorgeous Atlas moth, which has a wingspan of seven or eight inches. I counted five Atlas moths sleeping in various parts of the conservatory, and I could get right up close and examine the brilliant orange feathery antennae with a magnifying glass. We also hit the new exhibit on Hinduism on the way out, but had to leave before we could absorb it all. We'll be going back.

From the Museum, we sped downtown to Stuyvesant Street, where we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant adjoining the bar Angel's Share. (I forget the restaurant's name. Yaka-something Village?) We had what is basically the Japanese equivalent of tapas—some edomame, some yakatori skewers, some pork and potato stew, some scallion pancakes with cheese and chicken and spicy sauce, some sake, some plum wine. Unfortunately our fried asparagus was very late coming, and we had to leave without it.

We walked over to the Quad Cinema on 13th Street to catch E-Dreams, the documentary about the rise and fall of Kozmo.com that had the misfortune of coming out in the wake of Startup.com. Both films are interesting but focus on the young CEOs of the companies without giving very much insight into what the companies are about or what it's like to work in the trenches of an Internet startup. The we-will-conquer-the-world hubris is fascinating in both movies, and it's sad that we laugh at those moments because those of us who worked in that world were certainly buying into that bullshit at the time. But neither movie was entirely satisfactory to me, perhaps because the directors rely on the vogue documentary technique of telling a story without narration, but don't have the skill to assemble a picture where the pictures fill in the important gaps in the story.

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Severian

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Severian, the Siamese fighting fish we've had for a year now, is growing sluggish and wan. He also has what appears to be the start of a tumor growing on his left side. He spends a lot of time sitting on the bottom of the tank, or resting in the leaves of one of the plastic plants, breathing very slowly. I fear he is not long for this earth.

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TOMORROW'S WEATHER
MOSTLY SUNNY
MILD
DAVE THOMAS

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Ex-Mormon community

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If it appeals to anyone here, I've created an ex-Mormon community. It's called, creatively enough, [info]exmormon.

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Santa's little helper

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I hope those are the sounds of contented deep sleep I'm hearing from the other room. I hope I'm not busted.

We live in a three-floor house. Laura and I occupy the main floor, and we have a neighbor upstairs and one downstairs. The upstairs neighbor and we share a common entrance, since this used to be a single-family dwelling. We often hear him coming home late at night in the entrance hall, right on the other side of our nailed-shut bedroom door (we sleep in what used to be the house's living room), and prowling up the stairs to his apartment. The downstairs neighbor has his own entrance, but we share a common storage area in the basement, a narrow hall that runs the length of the house.

Well, down in that narrow hall is where I've been hiding Laura's present from Santa all week. Santa had me pick it up for him at Home Depot, him being busy with other things and not having much room in the sleigh and all, and asked me to stash it until the big night. I rearranged some boxes and nestled the big blue carton back in a niche, disguised it with some artfully placed bubble-wrap, and then stacked chairs on top and in front of it.

Tonight Laura was feeling tired and a little ill, so I read to her from Watership Down until her eyes grew heavy, and then I lay in bed beside her reading Black House to myself for another hour, until I figured she was good and asleep. Then it was time for Santa's little helper to go to work . . . since Santa had called frantically earlier in the day to report that he'd be just a little too busy to manage the transfer of the big box from the basement to the room we use as the living room.

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Listen up

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So I woke up this morning and had a lovely walk with my wife Laura to the Akropolis Meat Market on 30th Avenue to pick up a nine-pound cut of prime rib for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Then I escorted her to the train station so she could go to work. I bought a bottle of triple sec for my famous cosmopolitans and carried everything home. Where a pretty raw cry was waiting in my inbox to pop up and slap me. The subject was "Listen up":

FOR ONE THING UNLESS YOU HAVE A MISSING LOVED ONE FROM SEPT 11 YOUR OVER BLOWN STATEMENTS MEAN NOTHING....WE AS FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE TO FEEL THAT WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING WE CAN TO FIND OUR FAMILY....SO IF THAT MAKES YOUR LIFE ALITTLE HARDER......WELL WHO GIVES A FUCK!!!!!! MY HUBBY'S NAME WAS —— ———....REMMEBER THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Apparently she's responding to one of the two or three essays I've written about the experience of creating the survivor registry. I wrote back with a generic and unemotional expression of sympathy for her loss and a wish for the new year to bring comfort. What else could I do? I mean, her comments aren't fair exactly, but any distress I felt as a result of the 9/11 experience is certainly orders of magnitude less than what she's still feeling for the loss of a husband. But the thing is, we all lost something that day, and we all have a right to talk about it in public forums—her, me, you, and anyone else. I hope yelling at me made this poor woman feel better, but it almost certainly didn't.
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"Two for Las Vegas"

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Got a phone call from a fellow at Film Garden Productions on Friday. He gives me the following airtimes for the episode of Two for Las Vegas featuring Laura and my wedding:

Tue 15 Jan 2002, 1:00 pm Tue 15 Jan 2002, 7:00 pm Wed 16 Jan 2002, 2:00 am Thu 17 Jan 2002, 1:30 pm
All times are Eastern Standard, and the program airs on the Travel Channel. Check your local listings in case of last minute schedule changes.

(God, I've always wanted to say that!)

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There and back again

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Well, after a lovely Caribbean dinner and scintillating conversation, we hied ourselves off to the movies for three hours. And...

I'm sure I'm not saying anything here that no one else has said, but IT SUCKED. I mean, it bit the big one. It stank up the joint. It ran up the bellrope and joined the Choir Invisible.

Oh, it had some nice moments, and a few good lines. Some spectacular visuals. But the director was not content to settle for subtlety of emotion when things could be amped up to 11, or 12, or 20. And the screenplay completely failed to respect the wisdom and intelligence of the characters, and the grace of Tolkien's language. I understand that cuts have to be made in a novel to translate it to the screen, but not these cuts, not these. Peter Jackson has misunderstood The Lord of the Rings, has disrespected it, has broken it up into pieces to feed the masses like stale Communion. I'm going to try my hardest not to see the next two films.

I don't feel strongly about it at all.

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The Ring goes south

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Two loaves of pumpkin bread just came out of the oven, and I'm off to the city! Lórien, ho!

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