Inhuman Swill : Page 202
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Revenge of the shrub

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I certainly enjoyed hearing George W. Bush on the radio this morning, telling us he wouldn't consider lifting embargoes against Cuba until Castro was confirmed in office by a free election. "All elections in Castro's Cuba have been a fraud," Dubya said. "The voices of the Cuban people have been suppressed and their votes have been meaningless. That's the truth."

First Venezuela, now this. Does Bush really believe his election was legitimate? Or does he think he can wave his hands and make us forget? Is he right? And is that the sound of the rest of the world laughing at us I hear

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Extinct up the joint

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Laura and I went to the Bronx Zoo yesterday. We spent a lot of time watching the langurs, tamarins, capuchins, marmosets, and other New World primates, fascinated. But the most amazing sight of the whole day were the miraculous Père David deer, which, as a woman near us informed her companions, are extinct. I had never seen an extinct species in the flesh before. It was a real privilege!

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The shape of things

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Interesting to note that Neil Labute plans to score the upcoming film version of The Shape of Things entirely with Elvis Costello songs. Laura and I saw The Shape of Things on stage last year—first row, right where we could see up Rachel Weisz's skirt—and the house music was all Smashing Pumpkins. The playbill warned patrons that the house music would be VERY LOUD. It was.

I love Neil Labute because he's such a bad Mormon, pretending to be good. Laura admires his work but dislikes it, remarking that she wants to send him a bill for having served so often as his therapist.

Two or three years ago, we saw Labute's Bash: Latter-day Plays off Broadway, with Calista Flockhart. That was one fucking intense night of theater. Each of the three one-acts involved one or more Mormon characters who end up performing some of the most heinous acts imaginable. There were moments in all three plays when I laughed at some hilarious, biting Mormon reference—and was the only one in the audience who did.

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Virgin bounty

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I have the best wife ever. She was at the Virgin Megastore today, where she encountered a massive sale. She brought home for me the following DVDs: The Killing Fields, Logan's Run, Rumble in the Bronx, and Three Kings. (She picked up Ocean's 11—the Soderburgh version—for herself.) She also picked up three newly released CDs: Vapor Trails by Rush and When I Was Cruel by Elvis Costello for me, Blood Money by Tom Waits for herself. Not that I won't enjoy all of the above. Nice that Laura knows my tastes so well.

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It's always a happy morning when you put a lot of odd garbage out at the curb, like huge hunks of rotting scrap wood from the back yard, and the garbage men take it all. Yes!

* Legend:
      Police officers = New York's Finest
      Firefighters = New York's Bravest
      Correction officers = New York's Boldest
      Sanitation workers = New York's Strongest

Anyone know any others?

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Oh, dude, come on. Don't let your dog pee on the trash bags at the curb! The garbage men have to pick those up!

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Musings on an umbrella

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It's a rainy day in New York, so I'm carrying my patented Gustbuster umbrella. When I got to the office this morning, I of course opened the umbrella and sat it next to my desk so it could dry. And that sparked a memory from some months past....

I was doing a contract programming job at Sesame Workshop, and it was another rainy day. I opened the umbrella at my (somewhat spacious) cubicle so it could dry, and one of the employees (I don't recall now who) gasped and told me I should never do that, it's bad luck. She didn't just gasp, actually -- she blanched.

This was a person who otherwise seemed perfectly well educated. How does one react to ignorance like this? I admit I was pretty sarcastic and derisive in my reply, and I believe that I hurt her feelings. But how do you handle superstition like this in the workplace? I mean, several of us ended up having a discussion about possible reasons superstitions like this might have originated, but I don't think that made the woman who reacted feel any better. But I don't have any responsibility to conceal my disbelief in situations like that, do I? Should my umbrella be required to mildew for the sake of a coworker's peace of mind?

Of course, I do have a history of offending people in similiar circumstances. I once lost my shit in a meeting at Sesame Workshop (back when it was still Children's Television Workshop) over the issue of listing the zodiac signs and horoscopes of the Sesame Street Muppets on our web site along with their birthdays. I lost that battle and gained a reputation as a troublemaker, but I still contend that I was right. Astrology has no place on an educational web site. Hrmph.

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Miller time

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It's a great feeling when I can leave the office early enough that the subway entrance right on the corner is not yet locked. It closes at seven. This doesn't happen often. Woo-hoo!

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Not just empty talk

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Holy cow. Just got this email from my agent:

I talked to Jim Frenkel yesterday and he said that I should send the first half of Missionary Man [the memoir] to him, and that we should send him Silvertide [the novel] when you're done. Seems like you (or in point of fact, Laura—he kept talking about her!) really charmed him!
That's a rather spectacular vindication of the past weekend, if I do say so! I'm getting straight to work on the revisions to Silvertide, and Shawna is sending Missionary Man straight out to him. Fingers crossed, everybody!

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Forehead smack

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I can't believe I forgot to mention that Kelly Link won the Nebula for best novelette. And well-deserved it was, too, even though I predicted that Jim Kelly would win.

Here are some photos from the Nebula weekend. See if you can spot Laura and me in the later pages. (Okay, here are some hints: hint, hint, hint, and hint.)

You might also be amused by this video interview Laura conducted with two of the more articulate Nebula nominees—Geoff Landis and some weird guy from Queens.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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