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Why would anyone like someone like us?

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Because it’s a Saturday and Saturdays are slow around these here parts, I’m going to get a bit personal. I’ve been told that this post about Howard Zinn—which was written by someone clearly more talented than me—is more popular than the post on which my entire Internet Career is predicated. But because the truth matters, I confess before all the assorted masses that this is the post that most people remember me for. (At least according to Sitemeter.) All of which is another way of saying: given that we’re all about Internet Traditions here, what’s the first thing you think about when you think about any of us?

I’m interested to learn, and not just because I’m on the job market or anything.

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  • ianmorris

    i remember some of the visual rhetoric post, the all star superman and the planetary: night on earth ones were good.

    • SEK

      You’re making my publisher very, very happy.

  • Michael H Schneider

    I’ve often found it to my advantage to hang around people smarter and more knowledgable than myself. While neither intelligence nor knowledge rubs off, sometimes I can pick up enough buzz words and common phrases about important things (such as how to talk about fancy wines ‘n stuff) to be able to pass (at dusk with the light behind me, perhaps). Knowing what to mock is at least as important as knowing what to respect, in establishing one’s status.

  • skidmarx

    The Sewer Evil King whistled for mice-reinforcements, and we’re talking giant mice.

  • Intelligent and informed discussion on a wide variety of topics. Snarky sports comments. Reminders of historical events that are easily forgotten. That English dude who checks in every once in a while. The occasional disagreement between bloggers and a rational discussion of said disagreement.

    re: ring removal (and obvious blog-whoring, but this was a truly hilarious incident:
    http://thedeadacorn.blogspot.com/2011/04/it-obviously-skips-generations.html

  • LoriK

    I’m at least mildly surprised that the stuck ring story gets more traffic than hiding cancer from your wife. I know quite a few people who have gotten their wedding ring stuck because they were fooling with it. The other thing, not so much. The story about the students being irate that you interrupted the sex they were trying to have in your office is a classic though.

    • SEK

      I didn’t link to the “hiding cancer from my wife” story, which I think answers my question more sufficiently than I’d like it to.

      • I remember that one mainly because it made me think if I’d been married and had cancer at that age, it’s something I would have done. Fortunately cancer held me over until I was in my fifties. (A healthy young man, my oncologist says. On the other hand, I have an oncologist.)

        Second the Planetary/Batman analysis.

  • ropty

    SEK… definitely visual rhetoric; from Batman to Mad Men, I almost always find interesting. I thought you were writing a book about it?

    • SEK

      I am. Part of the reason for this post is that I’ve been asked to define my current audience by my publisher. To what end, I don’t know, but it must mean something.

      • Murc

        Your current audience determines a million things about how your hypothetical book will be marketed and to a disturbingly large extent how the cover and jacket will look, right down to the font.

        Something that’s intended to be sold next to “Supergods”, and to the same demo, will be put together substantially differently than something that is meant only for serious academic consumers of visual rhetoric, even if the content inside is exactly the same.

  • mark f

    The Deadwood post from your old/other site. I actually found and read that a long time ago, before you were here or I knew of you or your site, after Googling for commentary.

  • Dog San Vito

    Student sex is memorably funny. But I learn things from your visual rhetoric posts.

    • LoriK

      Yes, this. The visual rhetoric posts teach me things and help me to see shows and movies in a new way without sucking all the life out of them. A valuable thing.

    • Left_Wing_Fox

      Also agreed. I find the visual rhetoric posts help me think much more about the composition of my art and storyboards.

  • Pith Helmet

    Navies, law school debt, labor unions, visual rhetoric, occasional sports and not suffering fools lightly, on the front page or in the comments.

  • Jonas

    I came for the internet traditions. I stayed for the walrus fucking.

    Really, this blog is written by informed and witty folks, and because there are several of you, there tend to be a significant number of substantial posts every day, which allow me to waste time during the dog days of the academic summer.

    • SEK

      I came for the internet traditions. I stayed for the walrus fucking.

      Boss.

  • DrDick

    What?! You mean people actually like you?

    On a serious note, intelligent discussion of interesting and diverse topics, including several that are not generally covered outside of specialty blogs, is always a plus.

    • You clearly don’t know a good subjunctive when you see one.

  • herr doktor bimler

    what’s the first thing you think about when you think about any of us?

    Nude calendars.

  • MPAVictoria

    As someone who checks this site every day, I think of it as a great place to stay informed on the news of the day and learn a little something about labour history, naval history and so on. Plus some of the people who comment here are just brilliant.

  • Bexley

    Walruses.

  • I’m pretty butthurt I didnt get to make the lesbian walruses joke first.

    Several internet acquaintances of mine post here and I always enjoy their comments, sooooooooo stalking is the short answer here. I’m a stalker.

    • SEK

      Wait, are you saying I know you? Gods damn it, I’m so confused sometimes.

      • No, no. I followed some of my fellow bloggers/blog commenters here.

        It goes without saying I enjoy the work of LGM’s authors.

        If you’re puttin’ this on a resume, though, I’d leave out the walrus-fucking.

        • Malaclypse

          If you’re puttin’ this on a resume, though, I’d leave out the walrus-fucking.

          Walrus-fucking is all part of the community service section on the CV.

  • Linnaeus

    Seemed like a cool place, plus I think the blog is manageable; the posts and comments aren’t so infrequent as to make it uninteresting, but not so much that it gets overwhelming.

  • ploeg

    You don’t make me get out the boat if I don’t want to.

  • gaz

    Tweedy and earnest intellectuals. Often right, sometimes wrong, honest in either case.

    • sparks

      Meh. I come here out of inertia.

  • Gary K.

    Although I check in here regularly and read most posts, I don’t pay much attention to the bylines. Thus when you ask what I think of when I think of you, it’s a response to you as a collective. You cover a lot of territory, and generally get right to the heart of the matter (whatever it may be). You offer a good variety of one-sentence snark but can also handle the long form. For whatever reason (good luck? cultivation?), the comments are nearly as high-quality as the posts; I tend mostly to lurk. Along with samefacts, you’re my must-check-several-times-a-day blog.

    • SEK

      This is the sort of response that I’m interested in. I’m being asked by my publisher to “define my current audience,” which is part of the impetus behind this post. But I love the idea that I’m an expert-in-battleships-by-proxy. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

      • CD

        “define my current audience,”

        Now we get it! “Easily amused marine mammal enthusiasts” is not what the publisher wants to hear.

        I agree with other folks about your way with narrative. If I think about my blogger pantheon, in which you loom big, it’s people who can tell a story and use it to think with.

    • What Gary said, and also:

      I think a good chunk of the audience here is college educated, many of them post-baccalureate, but not academics. Lawyers, accountants, mid-level executives, the odd librarian, but who have retained our curiostiy and a breadth of interests that goes beyond our work. Crooked Timber has a similar range of subjects, but it strikes me as reaching a more narrowly academic audience. I can respect that action, I can see the point of it, but I can’t keep up with it.

      • Malaclypse

        I think Hogan nicely summarizes the difference between here and CT. LGM is, at its best, a really enjoyable seminar. At CT, I often feel like the site is owned/controlled by the frontpagers, while you guys always struck me as being more interested in where commenters might take a topic.

        But add me to the list of people mentioning that you all need female front-pagers.

    • Blanche Briggs

      I agree. I like the diversity of topics covered by the group. I especially like the discussions in the comments section. I only found this website a couple months ago, but I visit (lurk around) it almost daily now.

  • Tom Renbarger

    You say you will discuss with us why anyone would like someone like you but you really will not because of how uncomfortable you make me feel with your words and what you say.

    • I think I may actually have laughed so hard I cried when I first read that post and the comments.

      • SEK

        I feel like Kenny Loggins and y’all can’t stop screaming about the highway I’m on and where it’s headed.

  • After this post, the first thing I am going to think about you is that you got your head stuck in a toilet seat.

    • SEK

      My mother never turns down the opportunity to tell that story, and I love how my father corrects her in the comments. It’s like I was destined to be improbable. Another story, not mentioned there, is that three weeks after I was born, my father was working as a volunteer EMT. He’d just finished his shift at Exxon, got to the squad house all exhausted and was half asleep when he got a call. He was in the ambulance and driving up Quaker Church Road before he realized that he was driving to his own home address. A bird had built a nest in our flue and it led to a fire. I imagine he drove faster after he realized where he was going, but he always drives like a maniac anyway, so I can’t be sure.

      Point being, I was three weeks old and already had my mojo on. Who’s hardcore? I’m hardcore.

      • Can we please please please get “Kiss my ass; this is a holy site” put into the rotating banner at the top of the page?

        I promise I’ll instead think of you as the guy with the sex-office if you can make that happen.

        • SEK

          True secret: I have no idea how to add things to the rotating banners. Rob? ROB?*

          *By which I mean, leave a version of this comment on Rob’s latest post and he’ll likely do that voodoo he can do.

          • SEK

            And while he’s at it, he can add something about a walrus. What should be the canonical walrus comment?

            • “Well, fuck me like a walrus.”

            • Murc

              WHEN I GREW UP LESBIANS WERE MAKING OUT WITH WALRUSES.

            • “I used to be a heterosexual male, but ever since I saw a skittles commercial all I want is lesbian walrus sex.”

            • Jefferson Airplane

              Remember what the Walrus said.

            • I quite enjoyed this quote from CD in the recent Harry Reid thread:

              t’s a slippery slope, man, from disrespecting billionaires to Robespierre. And to sweet, sweet walrus love. For all.

              Or the response to it:

              First they allowed women to vote, and I did nothing.

              Then they proposed raising the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 39%, and I did little.

              And when a walrus banged my girlfriend, there was no one to speak for me.

            • Malaclypse

              I don’t know if anybody yet has said the obvious walrus comment: I AM THE WALRUS.

              • elm

                Or, to make this more site-specific, “Here’s another clue for you all: The Walrus was Paul.”

            • Anonymous

              “”The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things: Of unions and ships – and internet traditions – of baseball and Mitt”

  • I’m absolutely the last person you want your publisher to think of when considering your audience. I respect the visual rhetoric work you do, though I don’t entirely understand it. The political rhetoric work, though, and the intellectual history stuff is first-rate, and the cultural and personal humor well-written, if sometimes tragi-comic. I’d be much more likely to read your dissertation as published than this book.

  • mch

    Honestly — since you’re on the job market?

    Many positives, some of which have been cited already. (The positives are why I visit here.) But I will cite the overwhelming weakness of LGM from my point of view (since you should prepare yourself on this front for interviews — I could be among your potential interviewers, in theory, and one or two people like me likely will be): LGM’s extraordinarily masculinist perspectives. Really, in this day and age, even among polisci types (not, after all, the most aware group in academia on this front), LGM is oddly skewed. Not anti-feminist, certainly. Just kind of tone deaf to any active feminist agenda of even the most mildly liberal sort.

    • mch

      Should be clear. I’m responding to “us” as LGM, not SEK per se.

  • Murc

    When I think about LGM, the first thing I think of is internet traditions.

    The second thing is JFL.

    The third thing is the bully pulpit.

    Finally, wishing Charli were still here.

  • Rarely Posts

    SEK: I remember how uncomfortable you make me feel with your words and what you say.

    I’ve learned most from you about visual art and Batman. I also purchased and read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics based on your recommendation. I really appreciate your posts because I feel like I’ve received an introductory course that I failed to take in undergrad.

    • Rarely Posts

      Oh, I also should clarify. I don’t mean to suggest that your posts remain at an introductory level; they strike me as far more interesting/sophisticated than that. I just mean to acknowledge my complete ignorance of the field. One of the things that I love about your writing is that it’s very accessible to someone like myself.

  • 4jkb4ia

    Scott: The Supreme Court and general snarkiness.
    Paul: General contrarianism
    SEK: Film criticism
    Robert: Patterson School posts; military hardware expertise; Bloggingheads
    Eric: This Date in Labor History

    I stand corrected. If Andy Murray says the atmosphere is better than night matches at the US Open and was caught smiling, maybe there is something to this Olympic tennis thing. I watched the very end and was smiling broadly for Murray.

    • 4jkb4ia

      AFAIK, NBC displayed no class whatsoever in not showing us Murray getting his medal and going to some gauzy gymnastics film.

      • Bill Murray

        well they just ran a long commercial story for the upcoming James Bond movie, so class probably isn’t in their repertoire

  • 4jkb4ia

    Blog as a whole:

    What John might have done if he had decided to eat out on being a professor. Certainly NOT what SEK is looking for, but honest. Maybe SEK can bring the Krugman namecheck in for his publisher. And there is a little crossover between the two comments sections, too.
    Also too, rigorous, hilarious sports posts.

  • Woodrowfan

    visual rhetoric, battleships, labor history and Dave Noon’s horny cat.

  • Jim Lynch

    The legal-eagles of LGM provide a service. For the most part, they still possess a working faith in the judicial system of the United States.

    I no longer do. So it’s interesting to hear them explain things from their vantage point.

    Plus LGM’s sports snidery. I like that, too.

  • This blog is where I check in for inside baseball about politics, and check out for inside politics about baseball.

    Walrus lovin’ is lagniappe.

    SEK, you’ve always been a wild card around here. I have learned a great deal about visual rhetoric from your posts. I can’t read The Boys the same way now.

  • Cody

    My view of SEKs writing (as a fairly new blog reader) is a no-nonsense style. Your visual rhetoric posts seem to be the apex of this style.

    Now when I watch movies, I really try to pay attention to what the director wanted. Especially Mad Men! Your posts seem to highlight the real messages, and allow us to wade through all the sometimes worthless visuals. Of course, good movies don’t have a lot of these.

    But all those crappy films… I now can act like a movie snob when I say “That movie sucked, did you see how the entire middle of the movie was visually focused on an unimportant character!?”

  • jackd

    SEK, I may be part of your ideal audience, being a liberal, graduate-educated, white male Southerner with a middlin’ background in comics, literature, TV, and movies but a willingness to expend a modicum of intellectual effort on appreciating all of in a somewhat deeper fashion.

    Your posts here show a good bit of range, from serious and focused to the goofy and confessional. The rest of the LGM team takes on more topics, collectively, but their tone or style seems to be narrower.

    Things I particularly appreciate lately – Campos’ Law School Scam articles, some of the sports posts, anyone’s political snark, the Bully Pulpit discussions, and everyone’s willingness to get involved with the commenters. And damn, you guys have some good commenters.

  • Droop

    Lemiux’s care and apparent competence.

    Loomis’s thin skin.

    Campos’s weird fat thing. Is is Campos, right, who does that?

    Farley’s equanimity.

    SEK’s pretentious unreadability.

    Ability of so many commenters to amuse with scolding expertise on topics about which they know next to nothing.

    The goofy beer threads.

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