Inhuman Swill : Page 27
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

On the other side of the doorbell

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They finally caught up with me. It was bound to happen eventually.

It was Sunday evening. Laura and I had only been back home for a couple of hours after a long weekend in New York City. The doorbell rang. We had placed an order for Indian food only about twenty minutes earlier, so I grabbed a fistful of the cash I'd left on the sideboard and went down to answer the door.

It wasn't our food delivery. It was a pair of well-scrubbed young men wearing dark suits and black name tags. Yep, it was the Mormon missionaries.

"Hi, I'm Elder McAlister, and this is my companion Elder Nielsen," said the first. "We're looking for Donald Shunn?"

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Ella is eight

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Flying bear!
Today the fabulous Ella turns eight. This morning, to celebrate, I took her to the beach for her morning walk. She flung herself off a ledge of sand, and it was so cute that I asked her to climb back to the top and jump off again so I could take a picture. She is such a good dog, she did just what I asked.

I made my first ever post about Ella on April 12, 2004. That was just a couple of days before Laura brought her home from the Chicago suburbs to our Queens apartment. Ella a little over six months old. She's been part of our family now for nearly seven and a half years, and it's hard to remember a time when she wasn't with us.

Happy birthday, Ella! We look forward to celebrating eighty more with you.

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GRRM too dense for TSA

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Just boarded a Southwest flight from Laguardia to Midway. My carryon bag got pulled out of the X-ray machine at security for extra screening. After swabbing my bag thoroughly and testing the samples, the TSA officer took my paperback copy of A Feast for Crows out of my bag and flipped through it.

"I need to rerun your bag with the book outside of it," she told me.

Apparently George R.R. Martin is too dense a read for the TSA.

(By the way, my Tupperware container of cannoli made it through fine. Thanks, Barbara Lynn and Colin!)

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Lobo follow-up

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In response to my post yesterday about the stray dog we helped, our neighbor Ann said the following on Facebook:

This morning as I was leaving to go up north, I saw Lobo out on a walk. As he passed in front of my car, we made eye contact and as his owner proceeded down the street he turned back to look at me. There was a definite thank you in his eyes to all of us for a job well done. I can't tell you how grateful I am not to have had the dog pound experience.
Now I'm hopeful that I'll run into him some morning too. On foot, I mean, not with the car.
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Our time with the Colonel

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Lobo
On Sunday I was getting over a cold. After our morning walk with Ella, I went to bed to take a nap. I hadn't been down for long, though, when Laura came in and said, "I know you're trying to sleep, but I know you're going to want to meet this dog."

I grew up with German shepherds, and Laura knows I love them. She's somewhat allergic to dogs, which is why we have a hypoallergenic breed and not a shepherd. (Ella, by the way, is the greatest dog in the world and I would never trade her.) But the dog our downstairs neighbor Ann had in her apartment was gorgeous. He was huge, probably 120 pounds, with a long, long body, giant paws, and a grizzled muzzle. He was friendly and very sweet. He licked my face.

Ann had found him that morning wandering by himself around the neighborhood. He had no ID tag, but he did have a valid rabies vaccination tag. Ann had already driven him 80 blocks south to the Chicago Animal Control and Care facility on Western Avenue, only to find that it didn't open until noon. She had an appointment she couldn't break and wanted to let us know that there might be a strange dog in the basement for part of the day. "I'll take him down to CACC again when I get home," she said.

"Don't be silly," said Laura. "We'll take him for you, so we can get him there at noon."

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A couple of upcoming readings

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Tuesday Funk #38
I have a couple of upcoming events in Chicago I wanted to let you know about.

First, I'll be appearing on Tuesday, October 4th, as part of the Tuesday Funk reading series at Hopleaf Bar (5148 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL). (Sharp-eyed readers will recognize that I also serve as co-host of this series.) The reading takes place in the upstairs lounge. Doors upstairs open at 7:00 pm, and the show starts at 7:30 pm. I'll be reading a short story, "The Visitors at Wriggly Field." Please note that Hopleaf is 21 and over only. More info here:

http://www.tuesdayfunk.org/2011/09/tuesday-funk-38-october-4th.html

Also, I'll be reading a personal essay on Monday, December 19th, as part of the Essay Fiesta reading series at the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL). I've read for Essay Fiesta a couple of times before, and it's always great fun. For more information about this charitable reading series, see:

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RIP Mark W. Worthen (1962-2011)

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Mark W. Worthen
My friend Mark Worthen ([info]nitewanderer) passed away unexpectedly yesterday. He was a horror, crime, and science fiction writer who worked tirelessly behind the scenes of the Stoker Awards for the Horror Writers Association and also served as HWA's webmaster. I wandered around in dark fog yesterday after hearing the news. I can't believe he's gone.

I first met Mark in 1993 when I joined a writing group called Xenobia in Provo, Utah. He was only a few years older than I was, and we bonded over a certain darkness and irreverence in our fiction and our worldviews. I wouldn't have expected it back then, but he's the person from that group that I stayed in closest touch with over the years. Through one circumstance or another, we both ended up moving out of Utah around the same time and leaving some misunderstandings behind. That was another thing to bond over, the feeling that we were outcasts and exiles.

While I went to New York City, Mark's path took him to South Korea. He was a brilliant linguist and specialized in teaching ESL. I was amazed by his adventurousness, but he had lived in Europe and South America already and from the stories he told later he took full advantage of his time in Asia.

Next I heard from him, he was in the Midwest, Missouri to be precise, with the love of his life, J.P. Edwards. It was probably around then that Mark asked if I'd contribute a story to his new online horror magazine Blood Rose (one of the earlier of its kind). I did, and actually ended up hosting the website for him (which I still do). It wasn't much later that I found myself traveling to Jefferson City for Mark and Jeannie's wedding, and found him happier than I'd ever known him.

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A-E-S-T-H-E-T-I-C-A-L-L-Y

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I overheard the most heartbreaking exchange yesterday. Well, it's not like I was eavesdropping, exactly. It happened right in front of me, while I was enjoying a beer and some lunch at the bar of one of my favorite local haunts. I posted the punchline yesterday by itself on Twitter, but I'm growing more and more dissatisfied with the constraints of Twitter and the way it tends to short-circuit my intent to blog. (But that's a subject for another post.) I think there's far more pathos in the full story.

I was reading a book so I wasn't paying much attention to the conversation between the guy to my left and one of the bartenders. "Hey," the bartender called to one of her colleagues, "how do you spell aesthetically?"

To my right, another bartender stalked over, grabbed a slip of paper and a pen from behind the bar, and scrawled something.

"Now we'll have to decipher his writing," said the first bartender.

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When worlds collide

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tf-postcard-2011-06.jpg
Since 2006, I've spent a week almost every summer at a workshop for novel writers—either Blue Heaven or a spinoff based on its organizing principles. And since fall of last year, I have co-produced and co-hosted a monthly reading series called Tuesday Funk at a Belgian beer bar on the north side of Chicago.

I'm pleased to announce that these two worlds will soon collide! I'm spending the next week at the Wellspring Workshop in Lake Geneva, WI, organized by Brad Beaulieu, but for one night only the group of us will be roadtripping back to Chicago to invade Tuesday Funk for a "Science Fiction Sextuple Feature."

This special edition of Tuesday Funk convenes Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 7:30 pm, in the upstairs lounge at Hopleaf, 5148 N. Clark St., Chicago. Arrive early, stake out a table in the upper room, and grab a beer from John at the cash-only bar. We start seating at 7:00 pm and no earlier. Admission is free, but you must be 21 or older.

Our readers will include Brenda Cooper, Sarah K. Castle, Holly McDowell, Gregory A. Wilson, Vincent Jorgensen, and Kelly Swails, not to mention, as usual, a Poem By Bill. We hope to see you there!

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Warmed by the flames

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It's been far too long since I had a nice flamewar. I think the last one, in fact, was about two years ago when a sister missionary I knew twenty-four years ago friended me on Facebook and then posted to my wall to say the F-word offended her and she knew I would stop using it and polluting her news feed with it. I didn't even have to respond. It was my wife and friends who did the dirty work for me. Nice to be able to get my hands a litle dirty again.

From: Random Person
To: Bill Shunn
Subject: Editing job

Mr. Shunn, I would like you to consider editing two 10,000 word stories of mine. I am attaching a sample to work on and resubmit to me so I can see the calibre of your work product - if you're interested in the job.

From: Bill Shunn
To: Random Person
Subject: Editing job

In other words, you want me to edit you for free? Fuck off. I'm deleting your email without looking at these files.

From: Random Person
To: Bill Shunn
Subject: Editing job

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