Inhuman Swill : Page 66
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

Audible inclination

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Inclination: A Far Future Novella by William Shunn
By the way, in audio publication news, my novella "Inclination" is now available for purchase and download as an audiobook at Audible.com:

      "Inclination" audiobook

I'm not sure I realized that this would be the case, but this de facto also means "Inclination" can be purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store. I stumbled on that bit of intelligence by accident, while checking on my podcast listings at iTunes. Just go to the Store and search on William Shunn.

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Resisting being jerked around

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You thought I was done with Christopher Bigelow's post, but I was only taking a little breather. After declaring that it's probably too late for him to change his ways anyway, even if he wanted a new lifestyle, he makes this judgment:

And it sounds like Bill's dad was a real jerk, so he's got more of an excuse than I do to reject his parents' lifestyle....  [full post]
I have a lot of complicated responses to this. First is regret at the realization that I probably haven't done a good enough job in public at pointing out that my father was not only a jerk while I was growing up. He was sometimes kind, loving, and supportive. He was independent and often questioned authority. He was smart, though he tended to downplay that and fall back on received wisdom and kneejerk responses, and he was unfailingly discliplined, hard-working, and generous. He was also argumentative to a fault, controlling, and psychologically abusive, and his temper was severe. He correction could be violent, but physically it was only ever targeted at our scrawny behinds. He tended to spank first and never ask questions later (though he had pretty much stopped corporal punishment entirely by the time my youngest sisters were growing up). Admitting when he was wrong was not a strength. He did, however, teach me many invaluable lessons, the one I've taken most to heart being one he probably didn't intend—how to think for myself and make up my own mind about what I believe.

He's a complicated man, and he set a lot of contradictory examples for me. Most of all, he was a distinctive individual in sea of conformity. It would have been impossible for me not to have rejected his lifestyle in some way; in fact, rejection was exactly what we were taught. We were encouraged to become whatever we wanted to be (though doctor and lawyer were pushed harder than any other profession), so long as we didn't become teachers like he was. (Inevitably, at least one sibling did exactly that.)

We could argue all day about whether or not my rejection of Mormonism was a direct rejection of my father (and I would say that was only a small component of it), but it remains a fact that I lived a more rigorous Mormon lifestyle, by conscious choice, than practically anyone else I knew right up through the age of about 20. I tried to live like I believed the tenets, even while I fought private doubts that extended all the way back to age four or five (well before I could have made sense of the idea of rebelling against my parents). And still, it wasn't until nearly the age of 28 that I finally made the decision that much of my misery derived from clinging to a set of spiritual beliefs that contradicted what I had come to know about the world intellectually.

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Utah writer Christopher Bigelow, in the course of answering the "Four Things" meme, cops to coveting my lifestyle—but then again, not really:

I'm a little envious of his lifestyle of living in big cities like New York and Chicago, not having any kids, letting go of the Mormon rope, doing lots of traveling and drinking, and getting deeply involved in a writing community.... But I suppose I got all that worldliness out of my system as a young adult—well, most of it, anyway—and I'm sure the path I'm on now will lead to more long-term happiness than his....  [full post]
While I suppose I'm flattered in a way, I'm more than a little disturbed by the implication that there's greater long-term happiness to be derived from a traditional and religious nuclear family than from my little family. It's possible that Chris means my lifestyle would not ultimately be satisfying to him, which would be a perfectly fair thing to say, but the way the statement is phrased makes it sound like the objective possibility of satisfaction obtaining from my choices in life is on the slim side.

It probably goes without saying, though I will say it anyway, that I do not covet Chris's lifestyle. I trust he won't be offended when I say that, because I don't intend to offend. I mean only that some of the things he values most are simply not what interest me in life, and I have good reason to suspect that playing patriarch to a Mormon nuclear family would render me dangerously miserable. I'm certain enough that I'm on the path of greatest happiness for Bill Shunn that I feel no compulsion to make major course corrections at this point in my life. Comparing levels of happiness with someone else is pretty much a pointless game.

Of course, what Chris mentions (lightly) coveting about my lifestyle are really just the trappings. He doesn't mention the two things that are most important to me, which are surely two of the things he cares about most: devotion to a loving spouse, and the writing itself. On that score I doubt we're so different.

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Romney has a gay old time

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An amusing article in this morning's Times recounts how the various presidential campaigns are being blindsided by the unexpected sites where their web-buy advertising is showing up:

Visitors to Gay.com can sign up to find the perfect dating partner, advice on sex and how-to articles on same-sex marriage and parenting.

Over the course of at least two days in August, they may well also have seen banner advertisements about the Republican presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, according to an analysis of campaign Web advertising provided by the Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, monitoring service....

A regular site for advertisers like Jeep and Toyota, Gay.com was not exactly what Mr. Romney's campaign had in mind when it set out this summer to blanket the Web with messages about the candidate....  [full article]

I found this particularly amusing, not only because I enjoy seeing the Romney campaign embarrassed by association with positions the candidate has since abandoned, but also because John McCain ads have been showing up on my site for the past couple of weeks. Hey, I don't really mind, and McCain probably doesn't care, but those ads are a strange sight below my name.

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Locus pocus

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So I've now heard from three different people that my chapbook got a nice review in the November Locus. Only problem is, the October issue is the one that just came in the mail. Argh.

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Batten hatches!

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Me to Laura:  "Either the alarm on your iPhone is going off, or the house is about to dive to fifty fathoms."

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Jolly St. Nick is dead, alas

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So I have this other podcast called ScientiFicShunn, which really just consists of fiction readings from ShunnCast but shorn of all the associated chatter. Most of the episodes are downloadable and shareable and so forth.

So Sunday I posted an original, unpublished Perry Slaughter Christmas story for Halloween to ScientiFicShunn, "Jolly Saint Nick Is Dead, Alas." Laura hadn't even heard this one before, and when I played it for her she said, "That was just mean. Funny—but just mean."

But let Boing Boing let me tell you about it. I hope you'll listen.

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ShunnCast #50

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[info]
Epidode #50 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill reads an original Christmas story in the Halloween spirit, written by and starring his unsavory alter-ego Perry Slaughter.

http://www.shunn.net/podcast?id=50

See also shunncast.

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Movie review

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Should you jump in the stream, or let this one slip by? My review of Anthony Hopkins's Slipstream.

(Turned out I was closer to Stephen Holden than Roger Ebert on this one.)

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October's CD mix of the month

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In New York City, they had a non-mix mixer. In Chicago, for Halloween, we had Vampires, Mummies, and the Goalie Host. These are the things that terrify me the most.

(The story so far.)

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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