Inhuman Swill | Blog | William Shunn
Inhuman Swill : Page 207
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Bean. Mister Bean.

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I caught a little of Never Say Never Again on TBS or TNT or some station like that the other night. I was a little startled to see Kim Basinger in it, but not so startled as to see Rowan Atkinson playing the role of one Mr., er, Small-Fawcett, a fellow with the British embassy in the Bahamas. I kept waiting to see if I were really watching Black Adder V....

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TODAY'S WEATHER

CLOUDY
SHOWERS
SYLVESTER STALLONE

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[get context here]

Gluttons for Punishment

The only significant way in which Snow and I ever got the better of Roper and Steed was with their nicknames. I don't remember which of us thought this up, but if we ever wanted to rile up the sisters, we just called them Doper and Weed and watched their hackles rise. Though they tried and tried, they could never come up with nicknames as good for us.

There were other times when Snow and I thought we'd gotten the upper hand, but inevitably we'd have the rug yanked out from under us. On one memorable occasion, we beat the sisters fair and square and still they had the last laugh, without even planning it that way.

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[from my ongoing memoir]

There was one group we tried not to tangle with, though: our archenemies, the Jehovah's Witlesses—er, Witnesses. If we were dogs, then the Jay-Dubs were cats. If we were water, they were fire. If we were Superman, they were Lex Luthor. We did not get along. I think the antipathy stemmed mostly from the fact that people were always mistaking one of us for the other when we knocked at their doors. In fact, I recall once later on my mission when I had just been transferred to a new area. My new companion and I were walking down a quiet, shady street doing callbacks on a sunny spring day when suddenly he stiffened and went pale.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"See that guy a few houses down, out watering his lawn?" asked my companion.

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So there I was, just working on yet another redesign of the Sesame Workshop site, when I stumbled across this parenting article.

It describes me perfectly, and it was odd to hear myself described and potential explanations for why I am that way put forward. Of course, I haven't been paralyzed by shyness for a long time, but it does still get in the way of my social interactions sometimes, especially when I'm otherwise under a lot of stress. Weird.

Maybe some of the suggestions in the article for teaching kids to overcome shyness will work for me now.

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[Looks like marriage is in the air. For more info on what the heck is going on here, click here.]

The modern church has plenty of embarrassing historical specters hanging around, but few haunt it the way polygamy does. The church has tried to distance itself from the practice in the past century, but with mixed results. If you ask most Mormons today whether or not they believe it's proper to practice polygamy, they'll tell you no. But if you ask them whether or not it's a correct principle, they'll say yes.

In fact, the practice of polygamy is an excommunicable offense, and has been for many decades. This has not always been the case, however—polygamy was once, deservedly (and still is, erroneously), the chief distinguishing characteristic of Mormonism in the minds of most Americans—and many Saints believe it may not always be the case in the future. They look forward to the day when the moral and political climate in the United States and other nations has cooled enough to permit the church to reinstitute the practice—though the more reasonable of these don't expect it to happen until Christ's Millennial reign on Earth. (Note that I specified "the more reasonable.")

So, what is polygamy, and how did the practice arise?

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Foreign orals

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Hey, everybody pop over to my friend lightningrod's journal and pester him to write about the oral exams he recently took in Washington D.C. for the Foreign Service. I've heard it, and it's fascinating stuff. Let's get him to post it!

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Why I hate headhunters

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They call it Monster.com for a reason . . .


From: Ed O'Reilly
To: bill@shunn.net
Subject: outstanding
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 13:48:14 -0500

Good morning,

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Oh, Jesus Christ!

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After sawing and pounding and power-tooling away all night and all day, the people upstairs have apparently finished building themselves a piano. Five and a half blissful years of peace and quiet in this apartment, and now there's suddenly someone playing bad music badly on an instrument that's badly out of tune.

Jesus, I think my brain is about to claw it's way out of my skull. I won't be able to work here much longer tonight. My neighbor would seem to be working his way through his sheet-music collection. God!

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In my junior year of high school, I signed up for an advanced humanities class that encompassed history, literature, art, music, and drama from the beginning of recorded time. This daily seminar was presided over by the legendary Mrs. Vivian Beattie, an extraordinary teacher amongst what for a public school was a remarkable slate of extraordinary teachers. (Remind me someday to tell you stories about my math and computer science teacher, Lenzi Nelson. When you ask, tell me you want to hear about the teacher who threw chalk.)

We adored Mrs. Beattie, a ferocious old iconoclast whose demands on her students' intellects and attention pushed most of us as far as we'd ever been pushed by a teacher in our lives. She asked us for all we had, but in return she conferred upon us the gift of critical thought, not to mention the kind of respect most adolescents never feel from adults—the respect that says you are a worthwhile generation, no matter what anyone else tries to tell you.

That's usually how it worked, anyway.

If there was one thing Mrs. Beattie would tolerate, it was muddy thinking. I ran afoul of her cruel, casual dismissiveness in this regard one morning during our unit on 19th-century art. The topic was visual composition, the subject under scrutiny Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres's famous portrait of a nude harem girl, "La Grande Odalisque." Surely you've seen it—it's Ingres's best-known painting. The Rubenesque slave girl (the titular odalisque) reclines amid the various appurtenances of a fantastic Turkish harem—veils, silks, furs, pipes, jeweled belts, feathered brushes—with her inhumanly supple back to the artist and her face turned to gaze mildly back at him over her right shoulder. The ripe globe of one breast can be seen in partial eclipse, shadowed by her right arm. The painting was reviled in its time, but is today considered a masterpiece of French neoclassical portraiture.

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