At our September 3rd edition of Tuesday Funk, co-host William Shunn brought us what will probably have to be the final installment of his many missionary reminiscences, at long last spilling the beans about why he can't travel to Canada...

And if you enjoyed that, please join Bill tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, at 7:30 pm upstairs at Hopleaf, for an evening of Glitter & Mayhem together with Laura Chavoen, James Kennedy, Noël Jones, Holly McDowell, and Maurice Broaddus & Kyle S. Johnson.

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
In recognition of tomorrow's LDS General Conference in Salt Lake City, we're pleased to share William Shunn's reading from our January 1st episode. His personal essay "The Fanatic on the Street" took us on an intimate tour through the secrets of the flagship Mormon temple, and it sounded just a little like this...

And if you enjoyed that, please join us at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013, upstairs at Hopleaf, for an evening with Suzanne Clores, Mary Beth Hoerner, Robert McDonald, Dion Walton, and former co-host Sara Ross Witt. Don't miss it!

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
The following story is an outtake from my memoir The Accidental Terrorist. The names of most of the other participants, including relatives, have been changed to offer some small measure of concealment.

When I was eighteen, my father and I drove from northern Utah to Los Angeles for my cousin Delia's wedding. I had recently put in my application to become a Mormon missionary, and I had yet to learn where I'd be spending the next two years of my life. It wasn't for the sake of one last road trip with my father, though, that I agreed to tag along. I was hoping to meet Danny Elfman.

After the wedding—a brief affair in a tiny chapel like a sugar-frosted cake—the entire gathering moved down the road to the Arcadia Women's Club, a large banquet hall for rent, where a shaggy trio played jazz on a spare proscenium. A dozen long tables were set up in ranks across the room, and we enjoyed an abundant feast of cold cuts, casseroles, and cakes as the music played. "Hey," I said to my aunt Deborah, who sat across from my father and me, "I thought Oingo Boingo was supposed to play."

"All Delia and Sammy's friends are musicians," she said, "so lots of different people are playing. I don't think they're on until later."

elfman-boingo.jpg "Oh, okay." I glanced at my father, deep in conversation with Uncle Carl, and hoped he wouldn't make me leave too early.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. "Hey, is that my number-one cousin?" said a rasping voice.

I turned to encounter a beaming apparition in a powder-blue leisure suit. (This was 1986, and even then the look was smarmy.) "Markie?"

"That's me," said Markie, arms spread. He might have been taking the stage for a Vegas-style lounge act. "Didn't recognize me with the haircut, did you, Billy?"

The last time I'd seen my cousin Markie, a thicket of curly, light-brown hair had nearly concealed his face. Someone had taken a hacksaw to the tangle in the meantime, chopping it short and (mostly) squaring it off. "It took me a minute," I said. "You look ... great."

"Thanks. Figured my sister's wedding, I should clean up a little."


He grabbed my arm. "Well hey, Billy, come on. I gotta introduce you to the gang."

He dragged me first to a knot of shady characters clustered in a dim corner of the room. They had each made a stab at cleaning up for the wedding, but none had gone quite to Markie's extreme. "Hey, guys," he said, "I want you all to meet my number-one cousin Billy."

His friends transferred their beers to their left hands so we could shake, and I tried not to look too uncomfortable. I liked Markie, but his several arrests for drug-dealing were no secret in the family, and I figured I was rubbing shoulders here with a regular underworld convocation of scofflaws.

I glowed bright pink, ducking my head, as Markie gushed on. "He's the genius in the family. He used to say the alphabet backwards when he was just a little guy, wearing these great big, thick glasses. He plays the piano, and he skipped all these grades, too."

"Just one," I said. "First grade."

"And he's modest, too!" said Markie, slapping me on the back.

We worked our way around the hall, Markie and I, until finally we ended up in the kitchen among the fragments of turkeys and fruit pies, chatting with a huge dark fellow with a thick black beard, a leather vest, and arms sleeved in colorful tattoos. Markie dragooned him into helping us clean up the kitchen.

A half-dozen plastic garbage bags later, Markie's friend had made himself scarce. Markie leaned on his broom, lit a cigarette, and asked, "So what's new in your life, Billy? Girlfriend, anything like that?"

Markie's attention and his willingness to help with the scutwork behind the scenes at the reception had put me at ease. As we cleaned, he had regaled me with stories of close brushes with the law and of his drunken exploits at parties with Quiet Riot, and I laughed until my sides ached. His friends were nice guys, not at all the way I had pictured drug dealers. My horizons were expanding and I was feeling good. "No girlfriend," I said, "at least not at the moment."

"Bummer, man," he said.

"Well, it's no big deal. I'm leaving on my mission soon anyway."

Markie raised his eyebrows, dragging on his cigarette. "Mission? That's like what Uncle Doug's kid did. Lauren, right? Where'd she go?"


"Yeah, Iowa. Where are you going?"

"I don't know yet."

"Hey, you're smart. They'll send you someplace like, I don't know, China or something. Not Iowa."

A broad open window above the counter in the kitchen looked out at the banquet hall. Markie puffed his cigarette, staring at the crowd. A new band played discordant rock from the stage, almost submerging the murmur of conversation.

"Hey," I said, "is it true that Boingo's supposed to play here?"

He nodded. "Yup."


"I don't know," said Markie, distracted. "Party's supposed to go all night. Midnight they're on, I think."

"No way," I said, my heart sinking. It was only two in the afternoon.

Markie stubbed out his cigarette in the sink, still looking out at the crowd. "Hey, Billy, I see my friend Daisy out there." He motioned. "C'mon, you gotta meet her."

He led me through the door back into the banquet hall. "Who's Daisy?" I asked.

With a little backward glance, he headed down the row between two tables. He leaned toward me so he could speak quietly. "She used to be one of my girls back when I was pimping. She quit all that to get married, but I think I could still get her to do my number-one cousin for free."

All the breath left my lungs, like a giant rock had crushed my chest.

And suddenly there was Daisy.

She stood up from the table to greet Markie with a warm hug and a kiss, then sat down again. An empty chair waited to either side of her. Markie took the one closer to the stage. I took the other.

"Daize, this is my number-one cousin Billy," said Markie.

The woman dutifully turned to shake my hand, but without really noticing me. She was thin, around Markie's age, with skin tanned nearly to the texture of leather. Her hair was short and brown, and she wore a sleeveless pink denim dress so brief that it barely covered her crotch. The dress buttoned up the front, but she had it unbuttoned to the middle of her fairly flat chest. She wasn't wearing anything underneath. After her perfunctory greeting, she turned back to Markie, and I was forgotten in the minutiae of their small talk.

After several minutes, I grew uncomfortable and restless enough that I decided it was time to excuse myself. But just as I was making my move, Markie leaned past Daisy and said, in a complete non sequitur, "Hey, Billy—are you still a virgin?"

Swallowing, I settled back into my chair. "Yes," I said, feeling my limbs grow cold.

Daisy's head swiveled around like a radar dish, locking into place as its target was acquired. Her green eyes fastened hungrily on me, sparkling. "Ree-ally," she said.

"Look at that," said Markie. "He's a real Shunn. He can say that without even blushing." He stood up and patted both Daisy and me on the shoulder. "Hey, I've got someone I need to go talk to. I'll catch both of you later."

Then Markie was gone. My lifeboat fled, I bobbed helpless and seasick on an unknown ocean.

Daisy's shoulders shimmied a little. I could see the play of muscles beneath her skin as she squirmed in her chair. She hunched forward like a confessor or a confidant in her flimsy metal folding chair. Her bare knees nearly touched mine.

"So, you're a virgin, Billy," she said.

I did not find her attractive, but still she exuded confidence and sexuality like a musk. I swallowed. Her eyes held me fast.

"That's right," I said.

"So, Goody Two-Shoes, what do you do? Do you mess around a little?" She shifted on her chair, smiling mischievously. "Do you eat pussy?"

My mouth was so dry I nearly choked. The giddy thought went through my brain that if Mormonism were a graduate program, then this was my real oral exam. It took me a moment to find my voice. "Uh, no—no, I don't."

Her brow furrowed in question. Her teeth were small and even. "Well, why not?"

The scents of meat and cigarette smoke seemed to thicken in my throat. "Because of my religion," I said, somewhat stiffly.

Daisy burst out laughing. My cheeks blazed.

"Sorry, sorry," she said, waving her hand as she tried to get herself under control. "Religion, I'm sorry, I can respect that, I can respect it. You must take it very seriously."

I nodded, trying to keep the tremor from my hands. I felt humiliated.

"What religion is it?" she asked.

"Mormon," I said. "I'm going to be missionary pretty soon. I have to ... adhere to standards."

She leaned in close. I could smell the soap she had washed with, and I could see down her dress to her navel. "Look, I didn't mean to laugh. That's a great thing, really." Her voice dropped to a husky, conspiratorial whisper. "But tell me, Billy—have you ever seen the inside of a cathouse?"

"Uh, no."

"Would you like to? I could give you a personal tour."

"Well, I'm not sure I ... I..."

"Here, I'll give you a card." She felt the breast pocket of her dress. "Shit, they're in the truck. And I can't go get one or my husband will see me." She compressed her lips in thought. "Here, do you have a pen?"

I patted my breast pockets. "Sorry, I'm fresh out."

"Damn," she said. "I'd give you my number and you could call, but—" She shrugged. "Well, that's life."

"C'est la vie," I agreed.

She rested her chin in her hand, scrutinizing me through quizzical eyes. "Tell me one thing, Billy. Let's say you wandered into a cathouse somehow, and a woman there tied you up and started to rape you. What would you do?"

I sighed, brows raised. "I don't suppose there'd be much I could do. As long as I was helpless, I guess I'd have to just relax and try to enjoy it."

Daisy smiled. She patted my knee and stood up. "You know something, Billy? You're okay."

She slung her purse over her brown, brown shoulder and strolled away into the crowd: some wicked, postmodern Mary Poppins hunting children more corruptible to nursemaid. Her image in my mind's eye didn't fade so quickly as she did, nor did her touch on my knee.

If only she knew how corruptible I wished I were.

Dazed, I wandered back to where my father was sitting with Aunt Deborah and Uncle Carl. Almost as soon as I sat down, my father wiped his mouth with his napkin. "Well, I think it's time for us to be leaving," he said to the relatives. "We'll see you back at the house."

I looked at my watch. "But ... Boingo..."

"You don't want to be here until midnight," said my father.

And that was that. I never did get to meet Danny Elfman. But years later, that's not the missed opportunity I can't stop thinking about.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
At our November 6th edition of Tuesday Funk, B. E. Pinkham brought us a funny and heartfelt chapter from her memoir Let Me Look at You, and it sounded a little like this...

And if you enjoyed that, please join us at 7:30 pm on December 4th, upstairs at Hopleaf, for an evening with Julia Borcherts, Jodi Eichelberger, Maggie Kast, Stephen Markley, and Andrew Reilly. See you there!

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
At our November 6th edition of Tuesday Funk, Mary Zemaitis bravely confessed her past as a teenage "Jesus Freak," and it sounded a little like this...

And if you enjoyed that, please join us at 7:30 pm on December 4th, upstairs at Hopleaf, for an evening with Julia Borcherts, Jodi Eichelberger, Maggie Kast, Stephen Markley, and Andrew Reilly. See you there!

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
At our recent January 3rd reading, author Stephen Markley shared with us some of the secrets behind, and therefore within, his "premature memoir" Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold and Published This Very Book:

And if you enjoyed that, please join us for our next event on Tuesday, February 7, 2012, when we'll bring you great readings from Julia Borcherts, Lauryn Allison Lewis, Margie Skelly, Dustin Monk, and Lillian Huang Cummins.

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
I know it's not nearly as cool as getting a carton of books from a traditional publisher, but the private printing of The Accidental Terrorist from my Magick 4 Terri auction has arrived, and I think these books turned out really darn well, if I do say so myself.

Private printing has arrived!

I've signed and numbered every copy, and I'm excited to get them out to the winners. In fact, I'm heading off to the post office right now to overnight them.

Inside the book

But this only makes a vexing question more vexing. Of the five books I ordered, I'm sending three (Nos. 1-3) to the auction winners and keeping one (No. 5) for our own bookshelf.

But what shall we do with No. 4? I've considered several different options for disposing of this volume, but none that I've quite found satisfactory. If you have any suggestions for where I should send it or what I should do with it, please let me hear them.

In the meantime, No. 4 will sit on the shelf next to No. 5, awaiting dispatch to its as-yet-undetermined proper home.

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
I've finished designing the books that will go to the three winners of my Magick 4 Terri auction and placed my order with With a little luck, the lucky recipients will have their copies of this special private edition of The Accidental Terrorist before New Year's Day. (By the way, I decided to upgrade them to hardcover with full dust jacket. Yeah.)

Here's a sneak peek of what the cover looks like. Eventual publishers of the commercial edition, please feel free to steal my design.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Epidode #61 of The Accidental Terrorist Podcast is now available, in which Bill explains how you can bid to win your very own privately printed copy of his memoir The Accidental Terrorist. Listen up! (Or simply click here to learn more and bid now.)

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Epidode #55 of "ShunnCast" is now available, in which Bill explains how you can bid to win your very own privately printed copy of his memoir The Accidental Terrorist. Listen up! (Or simply click here to learn more and bid now.)

Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Lisa Chalem J.H. Palmer Ian Belknap A rapt Tuesday Funk audience John tends bar Robert K. Elder

I know we say this every month, but if you missed Tuesday Funk #33 last night, you may have missed our strongest evening of readings yet. The rapt audience last night was treated to Lisa Chalem's hilarious and touching reminiscence of how two newlyweds learned to cook, J.H. Palmer's hilarious and sweet recounting of a relationship with an old boyfriend's family that went on a little too long, and Ian Belknap's hilarious and wrenching defense of the proposition that he was, in fact, once an attractive man. And that was only the first half!

Elder Shunn missionary name tag After a break to let our audience visit John the Bartender, we heard a hilarious and whimsical squirrel haiku. (Are you sensing a pattern yet?) Robert K. Elder brought us hilarious and shocking stories of love gone wrong from his brand-new book It Was Over When..., then shared even more hilarious and sad anonymous offerings from our Tuesday Funk audience. And William Shunn—well, we don't feel qualified to call the chapter he read from his Mormon missionary memoir hilarious, necessarily, but people did laugh. And some lady at a table up front cried a little. We think.

Okay, so maybe we will say this was the strongest Tuesday Funk yet. But that only means you won't want to miss a single one of our upcoming events, starting with our reading on May 3rd, which will feature Paul McComas, Tim W. Brown, Brooke Wonders, Scott Smith, and Bradley P. Beaulieu.

Savor the Funk. It gets better with age.

Crossposted from Tuesday Funk
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Laura and I were talking over some of the difficulties I've been having this week with my revisions of The Accidental Terrorist when she gave me the absolute perfect image for the central conflict in the book. The main character, in her view, is a fly trapped in a spiderweb, struggling to free itself with only the vaguest notion of the nature of its predicament.

(See, I'm the fly, and the LDS Church is... Yeah.)

This image is so spot-on, so apt to something I was struggling to articulate to myself, that I wish I could somehow work it into the book. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, since I don't want to be too heavy-handed about it), I'm pretty much constrained by the reality of my experiences during the six months of my life that the book covers, and those six months did not include any spiders.

No, the spider didn't become a factor in my mission until five or six months after the events of the book. I was serving in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, by then. My companion and I lived rent-free in a small house in the middle of a wheatfield owned by some local Mormons. We were a little bored in that town, and one thing my companion did to pass the time was adopt a little spider that lived in a web in the window frame of one of the empty back rooms. He would go around the house catching flies and dropping them into the web, then watch the spider kill them. This was the best-fed spider in northern Idaho. It grew so quickly that after about a month its web (which it unstrung and re-spun every day) was so strong that you could strum it like a guitar and it wouldn't break. The spider itself was as big as the first joint of my thumb.

When that companion eventually got transferred out of Bonners Ferry and a new one took his place, the two of us decided that the spider had to go. It was so big that neither one of us dared to get close enough either to relocate it or to smash it to death. Instead, we used a cigarette lighter and a can of hairspray to flambé it from a safe distance. We could hear the individual strands of the web pop in the flames. The spider itself shriveled up and crackled with an awful sound.

I have several other animal stories from that Bonners Ferry house, involving mice and bats and such, but they're even more disturbing than this one so I'm going to save them for the sequel. The most disappointing animal story, though, was that we slept in one morning and missed seeing a huge moose in our front yard. The nearest neighbors had tried to call us, but apparently the phone didn't wake us up.

Where did this post start? Oh, yeah. With my wife being awesome.


Feb. 17th, 2011 10:03 am
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Today my father would have been 75 years old, had he not succumbed to complications from prostate cancer nearly three years ago. I want to post something about the old man, but the closest thing I have to a remembrance at hand is the second chapter from the latest in-progress revision of my memoir. It's not exactly complimentary on the whole, but it does attempt to trace the trials my father went through trying to secure a better future for his family, which I believe he succeeded at—even if he died doubting it.

By the way, I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago and I hunted down the house in Highland Park where we lived until I was six. My mother had warned me that I really didn't want to visit that neighborhood, but since when have I ever listened to my parents' advice? Anyway, the neighborhood was just fine—quiet, even. The house, perched on hill on Aldama Street between Avenues 53 and 54, was much, much smaller than I remembered. And there were parrots squawking in a tall tree overhead.

The Accidental Terrorist: Chapter Two )
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Having finished the first draft of a novel a few months back, I am now slowly but surely whittling my memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, down to its fighting weight. This means chopping out certain scenes I'm very fond of, but which don't fit the focus and tone of the revised manuscript.

Here's one of those scenes I'm sorry to see go, surgically excised and preserved under glass for your inspection.

October 1986

"You want to see my what?" said Elder Vickers, assuming that expression of shock and disgust he feigned so well.

"Your tonsils," I said. "Come on, Vickers, I know you keep them in your closet."

It was our second full week at the Missionary Training Center. I had accompanied Vickers on his daily trip to the main building for our mail. As district leader he had the only key to the box, and he'd been sorting through the day's haul as we walked. He was a short, barrel-chested young man with freckles, ruddy cheeks, and a crown of unruly blond curls that would have made Norman Rockwell weep.

"What gave you such a ridiculous idea?" he said. From the sharpness in his speeded-up drawl I almost expected him to add "Soldier!"

I gave him a sly grin. "Munoz told me." Elder Munoz was one of Vickers's roommates.

Vickers harrumphed. "He has said this to deceive you, and I would advise you to get out of his employ."

I laughed. The rest of our district seemed to resent Vickers as a drill sergeant with a willfully inflexible stick up his ass. I liked the irreverent humor he dropped into his remarks, though, and when I returned it in kind we'd begun to bond. To us, the pinnacle of drollery was to lard our speech with out-of-context phrases from the temple endowment ceremony, in which we participated once or twice a week as part of the MTC routine. The ceremony, which we attended across the street at the Provo Temple, took the form of an anachronistic mystery play depicting the creation of the earth and the fall of man. Vickers's line was one the Apostle Peter delivered to a Protestant minister who had been preaching false doctrines he learned from Lucifer.

"No, seriously, Elder," I said. "Come on."

Elder Vickers sighed. "Yes, I keep my tonsils in a jar in my closet."

"Wow! Why?"

"I don't know, really," he said, shrugging. "When I had my tonsillectomy, the doctor asked me if I wanted to keep them, and I said yes. That was years ago. I've had that same jar all this time."

"Can I see them?"

He looked at me coldly. "We do not satisfy men's curiosity in that manner." This was Peter's rebuke to the minister when he asked for a sign that Peter was a true messenger from God.

"We commend you for your integrity," I said, like Peter to Adam when he refuses to trade what is sacred for money. "But what's it going to hurt?" I asked. "Elder Munoz saw them."

Vickers sighed. "I see that this must be so." Eve to Lucifer, when presented with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. "All right, then. Come on."

It was later that week that I happened to fall in step with an elder named Preston as I walked from the cafeteria back to the dorm after lunch. Preston's district shared our dormitory. They were a week younger than we, but far more unruly. After our district had played a very mild practical joke on them on their second night at the MTC, they had retaliated against us with a full-bore water assault. Preston was the worst of the lot, a tall, porcine, marshmallowy elder with a nasty laugh and a mean streak a mile wide.

Preston and I chatted amiably beneath the brilliant blue sky as we walked. He seemed a nice enough fellow one on one, if a little quick to take offense at innocent statements.

Entering our dorm, Preston turned his moonlike face to me and asked, "What's the deal with that Elder Vickers, anyway? He just won't let up. Why's he such a hardass?"

I almost broke out in a grin. I saw right off what I had to do; my enemy had unwittingly delivered himself into my hands. Silently I thanked God for this marvelous gift. I almost felt bad for what I was about to do, but not quite.

I clapped Preston heartily on the shoulder. His white shirt jiggled. "I know he can be a real pain, Elder," I said, "but you have to cut Vickers some slack. He's been through some traumatic experiences in his day, and they're not the kind of thing you just walk away from smiling."

"Oh, yeah?" said Preston, squinting. "Like what?"

I furrowed my brow. "I . . . I don't know if I should really be telling you about it. I mean, anything that leaves you less a man than you were before—well, that's pretty personal stuff. If Elder Vickers ever found out I said anything, my ass would be grass."

Preston raised his arm to the square. "Oh, I'll never tell. Scout's honor."

"Swear on your life?"


I thought a moment, then nodded. "Okay. Here it is." We had reached the bottom of the stairs, and I held the handle of the door to our corridor without opening it. I lowered my voice, forcing Preston to lean in close. "When Elder Vickers was seventeen, they diagnosed him with testicular cancer."

"Test—" Preston's eyes grew satisfyingly wide. "You mean his balls? He got ball cancer?"

"Shh, keep it down," I said. "Yes, he got cancer of the balls. They tried treating him all kinds of different ways— chemicals, radiation, what have you—but none of it worked. The cancer kept growing, and it spread from one testicle to the other."

Preston shook his head. "Oh, man."

"Yeah. Finally, there was nothing else the doctors could do. They said the testicles had to come out."

"No way!"

"Yep. So Elder Vickers goes under the knife, and when he wakes up again, voilà!—no more cancer. But no more balls, either."

My whopping friend took a deep breath. "Oh, my heck."

"You got that right. It's a miracle Elder Vickers is here on a mission today, but he's still just learning to deal with the fact that he's never going to have some of the experiences the rest of us take for granted—like having children of his own. Never gonna happen."

"Oh, man, that's a rotten deal," said Preston, chewing the inside of his cheek.

"Yeah, so when he starts giving you a hard time, just understand that he's not really mad at you at all, he's just—"

A spitish light dawned in Elder Preston's eyes. "Hey, wait a minute. You're friends with Elder Vickers. How do I know you're telling the truth?"

I shrugged. "I can prove it," I said.

He squinted. "You're not going to try to get me to feel his nads or anything, are you? 'Cause I'm not going to do that."

"Nah, nothing like that," I said. "I'll show you his testicles. Come on." I opened the door from the stairwell.

"Wait wait wait," said Preston, grabbing my arm with a clammy hand. "You'll what?"

"I'll show you his testicles." When he just kept staring at me, I sighed and shut the door again. "Look, he was pretty attached to his nuts. When the operation was over, he asked if he could keep them. So the doctors put them in formaldehyde and gave him the jar. He keeps it with him wherever he goes."

"You're lying."

"I am not. The jar's on a shelf in his closet. Come on, I'll show you."

As I led the somewhat reluctant Elder Preston down the hall, we ran into Elder Munoz. "Hey," I said, "is anyone in your room?"

"No, I just left," said Munoz. "No one's there."

"Could you let us in?" I asked, winking so only Munoz could see. "I've gotta show Vickers's, er, testicles to Elder Preston."

"Oh, yeah, those." He nodded, smiling faintly. "Sure, no problem."

Munoz opened his room for us and stood aside. "Just be sure it's locked when you leave. Enjoy the show."

I flipped on the lights, then positioned Elder Preston in front of Elder Vickers's closet. "You know, Shunn," he said, "I really do believe you." Tiny pearls of sweat stood out on his forehead. "You don't have to—"

"Don't be a pussy, Elder. Think of what Vickers went through. The least you can do is stand there for ten seconds and look at what he faces every day of his life."

I grasped the handle of the closet and slowly, ever so slowly, eased open the door. The crack of light falling inside widened, curving against the glass surface of a regular Mason jar at about chest level. A yellowish fluid filled the jar, and suspended in the fluid like a pair of blind eyes were two lumps of gray tissue, each about the size of a strawberry. Obscene and phlegmy, the tonsils stared out of the closet with mute reproach, devoid of any power but the power to shock, the power to silence.

I looked at Elder Preston. I watched the blood drain from his face. I watched him open his mouth to speak: a fat, wet hole appearing in a face as gray as Elder Vickers's tonsils, making no sound.

He pointed at the jar, and slowly his face turned toward me. "That—" he said. "That—that—that—"

Laughter bubbled up inside me like oil from a highly pressurized deposit far underground. The look on Preston's face had sunk the well, and now I feared that if I opened my mouth I'd release a gusher. "As promised," I said, bowing my head and covering my mouth, but the damage was already done. I wish I could say I kept a straight face, but I didn't. Giggles shook my chest like a California earthquake, and my knees buckled under the recoil of an explosive guffaw.

Preston stared at me, then back at the jar, then back at me again. "Hey, wait a second!" he said, his face turning a mottled red. "Those aren't his balls!"

Sliding down the wall to the floor, I barely managed to squeak out "Tonsils!" between shuddering breaths and debilitating laughter. Elder Preston clenched his fists and stomped out of the room like the Incredible Hulk leaving the scene of his latest misadventure.

When I could finally breathe again, I hauled myself up to my feet and locked the door behind me, happier than I'd felt since coming to the MTC. Revenge is so sweet, if they'd included it on the dessert table in the cafeteria they never could have kept enough on hand to satisfy the demand.

This excerpt can be heard in its original context in Episode 25 of the Accidental Terrorist podcast.
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
The great folks at Essay Fiesta have posted video of the memoir excerpt I read for them at the Book Cellar on April 19th. This is a segment from The Accidental Terrorist called "Gluttons for Punishment":

(Damn, that was over my time limit. Thank God I didn't exceed the YouTube limit of ten minutes.)

Essay Fiesta is a monthly reading series that benefits the Howard Brown Health Center, hosted by Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon. Please come out to the Book Cellar in Chicago on the third Monday of every month to support the series.
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!
shunn: (Elder Shunn)
Come hear me read tonight, Chicago! I'll be one of several writers reading in the new Essay Fiesta series at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square.

Essay Fiesta features writers reading humorous personal essays, and is hosted by Keith Ecker and Alyson Lyon. The event itself is free, but proceeds from a raffle afterward go to benefit the Howard Brown Health Center. Besides me, tonight's readers include Cameron Esposito, Mike O'Connell, John Loos, and John Newton. Should be a lot of fun.

The reading starts at 7:00 pm, but since seating is limited I'd suggest arriving before 6:30. Besides its great selection of books (including a small but smart SF section), The Book Cellar offers coffee, wine, beer, cheese, sandwiches, and other goodies. They're also great about special-ordering anything you can't find in the store. The Book Cellar is near the Western stop on the Brown Line, at:

The Book Cellar
4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Hope to see you there!
Hey, Chicagoans! I have a reading coming up just a week from today, Tuesday, November 3, 2009, as part of Chicago's Tuesday Funk Reading Series.

I'll be appearing alongside Robert Duffer, Lynn Suh and Chris Sweet. It's my third time at Tuesday Funk, where I'll be reading another sequential installment from my memoir The Accidental Terrorist. The reading begins at 7:00 pm sharp upstairs at:

Hopleaf Bar
5148 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60660
That's just south of Foster, in the beating heart of beautiful Andersonville.

Hopleaf is one of my very favorite bars in the world, specializing in Belgian ales but with a menu of over 600 craft beers from around the world. All that and excellent Belgian food too!

This is only Tuesday Funk's second time at Hopleaf, so by coming out and supporting the reading you'll help ensure that the series can return to this beautiful bar month after month after month.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday Funk Reading, November 3, 2009
I end up with some very interesting Google Ads showing up on the page for my Accidental Terrorist podcast. Just now there was a big splashy banner ad for the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute ("Gunfights don't give second chances"). Apparently the Googlemind doesn't want you potential terrorists going out into the world without firearms training!
Just a reminder of the reading tonight at Flourish Bakery Cafe, 1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60660. I'll be appearing with five other authors and poets. What a bargain! For more information, please see:

Here's a personal invitation:

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