Inhuman Swill : Page 41
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Dear email forwarder—

Please don't mistake my opinion on the email as any condemnation of you or your character. But here's what I see as the danger of forwarding emails like that one: The information in them is only vaguely sourced, and the contents may not be accurate. The email has been forwarded a hundred times already, and may have been changed or added to along the way. The people who receive the email may just hit delete, but they may also read it and decide that it's true without doing any thinking or investigating of their own. I think that before you forward an email like that, you have a responsibility to investigate it for yourself and find out whether or not it's accurate. Otherwise you are spreading something that is no better than gossip, and potentially very damaging.

I did some investigation online and discovered that the account by Rick Mathes has been disputed by credible sources that were present at the event in Missouri where he claimed the discussion took place. You can read all about the doubt that has been cast on his account here:

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My scotch-loving friends in New York will want to hear about an email I just received from the Brandy Library. (Yes, I can't bring myself to unsubscribe from their mailing list.) The 16th Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is coming to the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday, May 7. Find all the information you need here. And if you go, knock one back for me.

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Radio audio

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I had a great time yesterday afternoon doing "Doing Time with Ron Kuby" on Air America. He had very kind things to say about The Accidental Terrorist, and he held me over for an unplanned extra segment. I think it went pretty well, though I was vibrating in the X-ray band. Here's audio:

Segment 1  (10:35)

Segment 2  (07:49)

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Doing time with Ron Kuby

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Listen for me today on a radio near you!

I'll be a guest this afternoon on "Doing Time with Ron Kuby" on the Air America radio network. We'll talk about my memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, and about the new podcast in which I'm serializing it. Again.

That's today—Tuesday, April 14th—at 5:00 pm Eastern. I hope you'll tune in.

To find your local Air America station, or to listen to the live online audio stream, please visit:

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Reading debriefing

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The reading at Flourish Bakery Cafe was a great success last night. I had a terrific time. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen, including all the crew from Imagination, and especially to Steven Silver and [info]stonetable, neither of whom I'd met before, and each of whom schlepped quite a way to be there. And big thanks to Hallie Gordon and Connor Coyne of Gothic Funk Nation, who made the whole evening possible.

If you missed it, I hope I'll have a chance to read at Tuesday Funk again later this year when my collaboration with Derryl Murphy, Cast a Cold Eye, comes out from PS Publishing.

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I have my breakfast stop to thank for another little gem this morning. The 31-year-old father at the booth next to mine (I know his age because it came up in his conversation) was summarizing news stories from the Sun-Times for his two young daughters, and I was listening in with half an ear over my eggs and coffee as I read Then We Came to the End.

Both my ears perked up when he mentioned Brigham Young University. You may have seen this A.P. story already:

Apostles, not apostates: BYU paper's ungodly typo
Thousands of issues of Brigham Young University's student newspaper were pulled from newsstands because a front-page photo caption misidentified leaders of the Mormon church as apostates instead of apostles....

The caption called the group the "Quorum of the Twelve Apostates." The mistake happened when a copy editor ran a computer spell check and apostate was suggested as the replacement for a misspelling of apostle....  [full article]

I almost sprayed coffee all over my book as the father transmitted the gist of the story. After he had explained the meaning of "apostate," one of the girls asked, "Did someone do it on purpose?"

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Old man: "Where are you going?"

Waitress: "India."

Old man: "Have you seen Slumdog?"

Waitress: "No."

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Notes from under the table


I had intended to tweet live from WhiskyFest Chicago last week but was thwarted in my efforts because I couldn't get a signal in the underground ballroom at the Hyatt Regency. I did, however, faithfully take notes as I went. As I transcribe them, we'll be able to see together 1) how poor my whisky-tasting vocabulary is, and 2) how far downhill that vocabulary rolled as the evening progressed. Ready?

WhiskyFest Chicago, 4/1/09
TOMATIN 18yo sherry finish
delicious, light, a bit caramelly, bright bright finish on front of palate
ARDBEG Airigh Nam Beist
more refined than Uigeadail peaty but a bit lighter
ARDBEG Supernova
Holy peat, Batman! It's like a scouring pad made of peat! I loved it!
bursts in your mouth like a buckyball unfolding, nutty, strong flavor
SPRINGBANK 11yo madeira wood finish
very purple flavor, strong, delicious is that a winey taste?
very subtle sherry-ish flavor. Yum! Not fireworks-y. Caramel.
Peaty but tastes more watery than I like—no competition for the 27yo
Fantastic ryes interesting vodkas, peach vodka
CHARITY POUR—BALVENIE 1976 single cask
bright, in your face, caramel explosion
EADES blends—
Islay—Bowmore 60%, Caol Ila 40% Highland—Ben Nevis 85%, Clynelish 15% Speyside—Longmorn 50%, Glen Moray 50%
MICHAEL COLLINS Irish (peated)
BULLEIT bourbon
reg (10yo) cognac
By my count, that was a grand total of twenty pours. The biggest surprise of the evening to me was High West Distillery, whose booth I had to visit when I saw they were from Park City, Utah. Their Rendezvous blend was simply the best rye I've ever tasted. All in all, theirs was my most-sampled booth, with five pours. I wanted to try everything they make, even the vodkas, which were startlingly good and unvodkalike.

Another high point of the evening came early, at the Ardbeg booth. When I professed my adoration of their Uigeadail, they insisted I sneak back for a sample of their rare Supernova, of which they had only brought 500 ml. So peaty it just about knocked me flat, but fantastic.

I started off the evening on the wrong foot, confusing Tomatin and Tomintoul at the Tomatin booth. Now, come on, I know the difference, and I'm a fan of both the Tomatin 12yo and the Tomintoul 27yo. But for some reason I tried to impress the Tomatin folks by professing my love of their 27, which earned me a gentle yet still embarrassing correction.

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The Accidental Terrorist
In 2006 and 2007, over the course of about 30 episodes of my "ShunnCast," I read my unpublished memoir The Accidental Terrorist, the story of how I, as a young naive Mormon missionary, came to be arrested for terrorism and permanently banned from Canada. The response was enthusiastic and overwhelming. Each chapter was downloaded thousands of times, and the memoir continues to be a great draw at my website. If you've listened before, I thank you for your support.

Now I'm serializing the book again, from the beginning. Why? As popular as those episodes were, the sometimes lengthy bracketing chatter about other aspects of my life and work made it impossible for listeners after the fact to sit back with every chapter and listen to the book straight through from start to finish.

This new podcast will change that. Starting April 7th and continuing throughout 2009, I'll post a new chapter from The Accidental Terrorist every Tuesday morning. Most of these will be excerpted from the original "ShunnCast" episodes, but a handful in which I've made significant revisions since the first podcasts will be newly rerecorded.

Most Friday mornings, I'll post a short "Setting the Record Straight" installment, also excerpted from the original episodes, in which I'll talk about what elements of Tuesday's chapter may have been slightly exaggerated in the writing of the book, and which others hew close to reality.

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ShunnCast #54

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Epidode #54 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill, in celebration of the first Hugo nomination for John Klima's Electric Velocipede, reads the earliest of his four stories to appear in that fine little 'zine so far.

See also [info]shunncast.

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