Inhuman Swill : Page 74
Why is my blog called Inhuman Swill? Because you can unscramble the pieces to make William Shunn.

The Week in green

| No Comments

Our favorite paper news digest, The Week, has published this week's issue on the web, for free, without a paper version:

For one week only, The Week has published a full issue exclusively online, bringing a bonus issue to you at reduced impact to the environment.
Not a bad advertising technique, either. And when more people subscribe because of this, they can use even more paper!

(But the really bad part is, this issue is not so well suited for bathroom reading.)

Full entry

In answer to a question about how one ever sheds the "ex-Mormon" label, or if it's even possible, I posted the following, in part, over at the discussion boards, and thought it bore repeating:

As for shedding that ex-Mormon identity ... I try to, in some ways, but it's hard. I don't want to define myself in negative terms, in terms of what I'm not, but rather in terms of what I am: liberal, atheist, SF writer, husband, scotch connoisseur, what have you. But my Mo past is still a part of me, and always will be. I don't get as angry about the church as I used to, and consequently I feel like it has less power over me, which is a good thing. When I talk or write about the church now, I can take a more analytical view, rather than just unloading with both barrels of my righteous rage. Man, it's exhausting to be so angry all the time, and I find so much more balance now. I can write about the church now with both fun and serious intent, like in my story "Not of This Fold," but feel like I'm using that story to say something about the way humans are in general, rather than having it be specifically the way the Mormon Church screws people up and how pissed off that makes me. If that makes any sense.

So while I *am* an ex-Mormon, that's no longer how I define myself. Or at the very least, it's far from the only or most important ways I define myself.

Some of you will recall the moaning I've done here over the years about the latest flame from some rabid TBM, but since taking down the most incendiary of my Mormonism pages that really doesn't happen any more. Which is fine with me.

Full entry

Mope Boyd

| No Comments

God, I wish I had seen this on The Colbert Report. Maybe I or someone else can track down the clip on YouTube.

(In the ex-Mormon online world, Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer is commonly referred to as Boyd KKK Packer because of his extreme fundamentalism and his stated desire to have church history whitewashed.)

Update:  Here's the video. Thanks, Brian!

Full entry

Gothamist today has a fascinating interview with wunderkind photographer Bill Wadman about his ongoing 365 Portraits project. Our own [info]steelbrassnwood gets a shout-out:

What's been the most interesting shoot so far? There are so many that it’s hard to single out one most interesting shoot, but there are a few that stick out in my memory. For example, back in February I shot a woman named Margot Stevenson on her 95th birthday, or the time I introduced myself to and shot Ken Ficara in Prospect Park, or this past Monday when I shot director Michael Kang in Washington Square Park. Each day is a different little story and I think that adds to the project. I've also become friends with a number of my subjects, which is a nice ancillary benefit.  [full interview]
(It's kind of funny that Bill says he introduced himself to Ken and shot him. Like a scene from a Brooklyn gangster movie!)

Besides Ken, friends of mine who've showed up on the site include Jordana Drell Rosen, Christopher Rivera, Nuno Santos, and the inexplicably controversial Nicki Bosch. (Oh, yeah, and there was mine, too, which I was very pleased with.) Laura signed up long ago, and while Bill and I both keep trying to twist her arm, she hasn't picked a date. Yet.

By the way, I think last night's portrait is one of the most stunning so far, simply in terms of color, composition, and the serendipitous appearance of birds.

Full entry

Rotary four

| No Comments

Laura sent me the link to this YouTube video of a full four-minute round-trip on the conveyor belt at a rotary sushi bar. For some reason, watching it just made me feel happy, same as it did her. Oh, and hungry too.

That combined with a lunch out later today with my birthdaying workmate makes for a great morning at the office.

Oh, and ianmcdonald's latest, Brasyl, just arrived here at the office from Barnes & Noble via courier. (Same-day delivery in Manhattan rocks the free world.) I pre-ordered this months ago, and I had completely forgotten to expect it.

Oh, and Ella and I went to the park this morning for the first time in weeks. She had been limping a little, so we rested her until the limp went away. That makes four, four vonderful reasons to be happy today.

Full entry

Waxing the camel

| No Comments

Last night was the end of an era. It was by only the most fortuitous of chances that we were there for it.

Laura and I had taken [info]curmudgeon to the incomparable Kabab Cafe before, to be entertained, charmed, and provoked by our friend Ali El Sayed's patter and transported by his food. With Laura and me moving soon, doing it again while Curmudgeon was in town was critical.

Turns out it was more critical than we knew. Ali told us, "I'm glad you are here tonight. Tomorrow I will be closed. I leave for 25 days in Egypt." He went on to explain that on his return, he will begin renovating Kabab Cafe—again. He will change the menu, begin serving breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner, and train chefs to take over for him. He will then take his menu over to his brother Moustafa's excellent nearby restaurant Mombar, where he will sometimes cook and sometimes help oversee operations of both restaurants. He will use his trip to Egypt to work out plans for the new venture.

The changes are exciting, since Ali finally won't be tied to his tiny kitchen. But it was also a poignant evening—the last night of the Kabab Cafe we've known all these years. There were only two other diners there when we arrived, but even with the pick of tables in the place, Ali suggested we sit in the niche near the door so he could talk to us over the counter of his kitchen. We drank too much Argentine Malbec while we enjoyed mixed appetizers of hummus, babaganouj, falafel, fried Swiss chard, apples, pears, and more; a more than appetizer portion of pumpkin dumplings in a spicy sauce; goat chops; beef short ribs; and an amazing dish of sand shark tail. I broke out a bottle of Balvenie Portwood 21yo I'd brought for us—Ali included—to enjoy along with dessert, which was a plate of selected Mediterranean pastries from the bakery down the street, together with yogurt and various fruits. I had thick coffee too.

Full entry

Two by Four: Four Letter Words Double Down
Once again, I will have to miss this this evening's CD Mix of the Month Club meeting, owing to previous commitments. But I'll try to find someone who can bring my mixes, the third and fourth entries in my "Four Letter Words" series: Two by Four: Four Letter Words Double Down and The Only ____ in ____: Four Letter Words of Puzzlement.

Yes, Gentle Readers, I am not posting a track listing for that second mix. Why not? It's a puzzle! The track listing consists of two chains, the first 11 tracks long, the second 8. The title of each track consists of two four-letter words, the first of which is the second word of the previous track title. (For instance, "Aces High" by Iron Maiden might be followed by Men at Work's "High Wire," or by Juno's "High Noon.") In addition, each chain itself has a title that can be derived from the track titles.

The two puzzles follow. I'll mail a copy of the mix to the first person who can email me with the titles of the two chains. I'll mail copies of all four "Four Letter Words" mixes to the first person who can email me with the complete track listing for both chains. Send entries to puzzle at shunn dot net. (Answers posted here in the comments section will be deleted.)

Click front cover for Puzzle #1

Full entry

All this and a Pulitzer too

| No Comments

Laura just sent me the link to The Morning's News's championship Tournament of Books literary smackdown for 2006, pitting The Road by Cormac McCarthy against Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. Panelist comments like these were just the sort of thing I needed to read today:

If I were the sort to have dinner parties, I’d save [Shteyngart] a chair.... McCarthy would beat him to death with one.

[I]t's unfair, brutal and wrong, but The Road runs over Snack Daddy's khui with a shopping cart. Oprah agrees.

I’ll go for The Road, at least in part because it includes some excellent recipes.

Full entry

Easing on down The Road

| No Comments

Paul Witcover of [info]theinferior4 somehow scoops everyone on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer win for The Road.

A bigger Pulitzer stunner, though, is that Ray Bradbury gets a special citation for "his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy." As Paul says, it's almost like reading a Pulitzer report from a parallel universe.

Elsewhere online, Wikipedia had this to say about the 2007 Pulitzers:

The Pulitzer Prizes for 2007 were announced on an otherwise unremarkable day in April. Winners included some people at the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other rags nationwide. Notably, the New York Times won only a single prize, leading to a sense of despair in the newsroom, accompanied by resentment at Columbia's board of trustees. Times staffers could only take comfort in the fact that the Washington Post got stiffed entirely.
Check it out fast, because this gem surely won't last there for long. (I took a screen shot.)
Full entry

2,400-mile cab ride

| No Comments

This Yahoo! News story warmed my heart:

NYC couple hail cab for 2,400-mile ride

But they'll probably hit every pothole between here and Sedona.

Full entry

Featured Book

William Shunn