Inhuman Swill | Blog | William Shunn
Inhuman Swill : Page 33
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.
            

It's been so long since there's been constant bright sunlight in Chicago that I am startled every time this week that I walk indoors and see that the phosphorescent hands and numbers on my watch face are glowing.

Of course, this is the time of year when I don't need that feature so much...

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Hungry bear

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Where's mine?
[sung to the tune of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath]

She's my hungry bear
She's the little dog with the golden hair
She'll just sit and stare
Anytime I'm eating and I won't share

Nobody feeds her
She just stands there and pouts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)
She's gonna starve soon
Of this she has no doubts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)

Hey there, hungry bear
Your bowl's full of pheasant and ground-up hare
Ain't no cheese on there
So you walk out with your nose in the air

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E-blast from the past

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Today is the 114th running of the Boston Marathon. I am reminded of this because I've started receiving race alerts via text message for a runner named Jen Stronge. So has Laura.

I wish Jen Stronge all the luck in the world in finishing strong in the marathon this morning. But I never signed up to get her alerts, and I wish they would stop. My guess is that she has the same chip number that Laura had last year, and the fine IT staff of the Boston Marathon never cleared out the alert requests from last year's race. Which makes them, for today anyway, some of the dumbest fucks in the tech industry.

To repeat, Boston Marathon IT crew—you suck.

UPDATE: It's the bib number that's the same as Laura's from last year—18649. A dumb, dumb programming mistake, friends. And who's paying for all those bad text messages?

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Chicagoans, please come out to the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square this Monday, April 19, for the monthly Essay Fiesta reading series!

I'll be reading a humorous personal essay in company with Cameron Esposito, Jim Pickett, Bryan Bowden, and Rebecca Rine-Stone. It's all to benefit the Howard Brown Health Center, so come on down, have a laugh, and join the raffle or make a small donation.

It all takes place:

Monday, April 19th, 7:00-8:30 pm @ The Book Cellar 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60625
For more info, click here. Hope to see you there!
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Laura's off to Florida through Tuesday for work, and I'm going to do get as much writing done as I can. The only breaks will be for taking care of Ella (who went to the groomer yesterday and now looks like a Muppet) and a special team-trivia competition this afternoon to benefit One Tail at a Time, a local dog shelter. One Tail's Medical and Finance Coordinator, Jeff Kitchen, is also the quizmaster at our regular Wednesday night pub trivia event.

If you're in Chicago and have some free time this afternoon, come on down! The event kicks off at 2 pm this afternoon at KINCADE'S BAR & GRILL, 950 W. Armitage, right at the Brown Line stop. (The event has moved since the blog post above, so don't go to Kendall's.) I'm not sure whether or not there's room for more teams, but if so it's a $100 entry fee for your team of up to 5 people. You can add a sixth team member for another $20. And if the roster is already full, have a beer and cheer. Do it for the puppies.

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The wages of fear

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It's 2010, and America has finally started dragging itself into the 20th century's world of social responsibility. We have a health-care reform bill, and that's a thing to celebrated. Meanwhile, as you will have heard, a few opponents of progress are doing their best to drag us back to the worst parts of the 19th century*, as in these incidents (as reported in the New York Times) against House members who voted for the reform bill:

At least two Congressional district offices were vandalized and Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior Democrat from New York, received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families.

Ms. Slaughter also reported that a brick was thrown through a window of her office in Niagara Falls, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, said Monday that her Tucson office was vandalized after the vote.

The Associated Press reported that the authorities in Virginia were investigating a cut propane line to an outdoor grill at the home of a brother of Representative Tom Perriello of Virginia, after the address was mistakenly listed on a Tea Party Web site as the residence of the congressman. Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan and a central figure in the measure's abortion provisions, reported receiving threatening phone calls.

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Why I love Malcolm Tucker

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I think most people know me as a fairly laid-back guy in person, never getting too exercised or losing my cool, even when someone's being a jerk to me. If that's your opinion, then you've never worked in an office with me. Seriously. Ask the good, long-suffering people at BenefitsCheckUp or Sesame Workshop. (Actually, don't ask the people at Sesame Workshop. Most of the folks I used to work with there got the ax even before I did.)

If you talked to them, you'd find out that I could be a real bastard in the workplace. Some people at my last job were apparently afraid to talk to me when I thought they'd messed up, or at all. I made at least one producer at the Sesame Street website cry. Mind you, I'm not proud of this. No, wait, actually I am.

Over the past week or so, I've watched the recent film In the Loop three times on DVD. Besides its scathing, cynical view of the political process that lubricated our way into Iraq, I can't get enough of Malcolm Tucker, the angry, profane press secretary who never encountered a functionary he couldn't intimidate or a problem he couldn't spin his way out of. I want to be Malcolm Tucker, or at least be that articulate when I'm enraged.

Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi, is also a character on the BBC comedy series The Thick of It. That's the source of the short video clip below (decidedly NSFW in its language), which pretty well sums up the Tucker philosophy.

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U QT!

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Sometimes as I glance through my website's server logs, I see the anonymous messages people have sent through my little Scrabble-izer. Here's one of the sweetest I've seen, which just caught my eye:

If you were a Scrabble tile, you'd be a Z - one of a kind and worth more than everyone else
Or see it in Scrabble tiles.
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Nice review

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Via the PS Publishing newsroom, here are excerpts from Peter Tennant's recent Black Static review of my collaboration with Derryl Murphy, Cast a Cold Eye:

This short novella does many things right. For starters, its setting is immaculately captured on the page, with a real sense of rural Nebraska in 1921 coming over thanks to a wealth of tiny details, such as the ins and outs of photography or a look inside the house of a wealthy widow. There's a strong emotional grounding too, for both Luke and the society in which he is placed, an aching sense of despair undercut with a feeling that perhaps the worst is past, so people can look to the future with hope, an optimism confirmed in its denouement. Characterisation is spot on, with no-one who can be considered either evil or a criminal, just ordinary men and woman with all the flaws and virtues that implies....

The supernatural side of the story is suitably understated, so that we believe but also take on board the possibility that the ghosts could only exist inside the hearts and minds of the people who see them. With a subtext suggesting that the spectral world is just another aspect of life, wishing us neither good nor evil, but just there, a case could be made for Luke as the 'I see ghosts' boy from Sixth Sense picked up, rather like a reverse Dorothy, and put down in rural Nebraska, but that might be stretching things. In any event, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it without reservation.

Order yourself a copy, without reservation, here.

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The giving trees

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This morning is Plant a Tree day on WBEZ. If you pledge any amount today, they will plant a tree in your name anywhere in the world.

"Anywhere?" said Laura. (We often talk back to the radio in the morning.). "I want them to plant a tree in my back yard."

"I want them to plant a tree in Antarctica," I said. "It's pretty barren down there."

Does this make us jerks?

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