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Bigger on the Inside

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My friend Scott Eric Kaufman has passed away. Scott was a brilliant writer, a deeply compassionate man, an incredibly caring friend, someone whose boundless confidence in my ability got me through a lot of setbacks and dry spells, and one of the few people I’ve met who saw and thought about the world so much like I did that he could anticipate what I was going to think about something and vice-versa. I miss him terribly; I want to ask him what he thinks about this TV show or that movie, to draw courage from his righteous indignation at the unrighteous, to tell him about my day-to-day victories and celebrate in his.

Ever since I came across his writing on Acephalous and Lawyers, Guns, and Money, I have always thought of Scott as someone with an enormous capacity for enduring the absurd and improbable curveball that life was constantly throwing at him, and then turning it around with his unique gift for ironic and self-deprecating wit. In my mind, he was like a silent film comedian, forever triumphing over adversity by the end of the reel through some clever trick. Somehow, I thought this would be the same, and it comes as a shock that it isn’t – Scott would have called it bad writing.

My deepest regret is that, despite having talked for dozens of hours in front of microphones and webcams, that we never got to meet in person. We tried several times, but every time some bizarre turn of events would upend our plans: we were going to meet in Santa Barbara, but something went wrong with a car; we were supposed to meet up in London or New York and a volcano exploded. The closest we got was me getting to New Orleans, but life intervened and we weren’t able to meet up. At the time, it was both frustrating and funny, getting momentarily caught up in Scott’s vortex of improbability. It isn’t funny now.

In an attempt to do something productive with how I’m feeling right now, I’m planning to put together a book of Scott’s best work, from LG&M and Acephalous (and possibly from other sites as well depending on IP issues) with help from people in the community. So please use this thread to suggest favorite pieces of his that you would include in the project.

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  • That was beautiful and that last paragraph has me crying some tears of joy along with all the sad mournful ones.

    I’m sad I’ll never get to ask the both of you when that next GoT podcast is coming out. I’ve been reading a lot of his writing these past few days and then I tried to listen to one of those podcasts and no way could I make it through.

    And what a wonderful perfect title. He made us all bigger on the inside.

    • In an attempt to do something productive with how I’m feeling right now, I’m planning to put together a book of Scott’s best work, from LG&M and Acephalous (and possibly from other sites as well depending on IP issues) with help from people in the community. So please use this thread to suggest favorite pieces of his that you would include in the project.

      So you’re going to put together all of his posts? Cool! In all seriousness, I’m a sucker for Disadventure even though I’m too young to have ever played a text-based game.

  • About the book you propose, I’ve been hoping to hear that such a project was in the works. Consider this my small vote of encouragement.

    • enemyAI

      +1.

      (No pressure. But, if you do decide to collect some of his writing then I would order one.)

      • Orphos

        Times a thousand, and if you sell it I’d be thrilled to help support the archives for his work or his family’s medical bills or both.

    • Nepos

      /pic of Frye holding out money/
      Shut up and take my money!

      But seriously, I would buy the hell out of a SEK collection. Or two.

      No suggestions for content, because damn near anything will do.

  • cppb

    Like so many here, I never knew SEK, but his writing made me feel like I knew at least a part of him. I am still working my way through his archives, but “The Dark Knight Returns and The Zack Snyder School of Literal Filmmaking” is one of my favorite pieces of writing. Educational and acerbic in perfect combination.

    Rest in Power, Scott.

  • Philip

    At least on the funny side, the time SEK had a Hitler ‘stache and the Porsche Guy story stand out. OLDYEATS CAT too.

    It’s still really hard to believe he’s gone.

    • The Lorax

      That Hitler stache story is inspired.

    • DrS

      goddamn that was great

      terrifying too

  • David Hunt

    The title fits SEK so well. There’s an old internet meme that I’ve seen that is just a picture of a sonic screwdriver and a caption that I’m quoting from sketchy memory:

    “At my funeral I want someone to come out in the clothes I died in, hold up a sonic screwdriver, and shout, “Okay, this is where things get complicated!”

    I used to think that was hilarious. I associated it with Scott before I even knew he was sick, although I couldn’t tell you why. I’ll never look at or even think of that thing the same again.

    My favorite bits of Scott’s writing tended to fall in two categories. The first were the ones where he wrote about the absurdity that surrounded him. The second was his use of his skills and righteous indignation to rhetorically disembowel various people who needed to have it done to them. I can’t bear to look at his writing at the moment to search for specific examples. I’ve kind of binged on it the last two days.

    Steven, I think I may have mentioned this before, but Scott was the reason that I know anything about your own writing. The podcast you did with him led me to your site and your writing encouraged me to go through the several thousand pages of ASOIAF. I owe that enrichment of my life to the two of you.

    • David Hunt

      I’ve been thinking and Scott’s experience with the Library stealing an entire semester’s of tuition would be high on my list. Looking back I get the impression what made made so many of these things funny was Scott himself. In the same situations, I would have been angry, frustrated, or even despairing, but he turned it into a funny story. I don’t think I would have had the strength to live his life.


      Library

  • ropty

    I always loved the visual rhetoric stuff.

    • The Lorax

      Me too.

      • Thom

        And me. I had never encountered that type of analysis before, and I found it very engaging and convincing as applied by SEK.

  • Pelican Flyer

    Double plus good for the visual rhetoric insights.

  • Thank you very much.

  • Hann1bal

    How about a section with just his Zork parodies?

    • leftwingfox

      Yes please.

  • kitznkatz

    Please, just put ’em all in the same volume, different sections.
    I loved his adventures at Albertson’s (the grocery store).
    He was so brave, never intimidated by loud or weird.

  • rhino

    He wrote some great epitaphs and obituaries… A chapter on them would be amazing.

    Obviously any such book should have some pastiched ‘author recommendations’ from people like Old Man Cat, and one of the two sexing students.

    I will buy and read the hell out of this book.

  • apogean

    I don’t know if this had such an effect on anyone else, but ages and ages ago this Doctor Who post had a huge impact on me. The power of the intellect to defeat violence. Plus it’s a great and clear and compelling visual rhetoric example. It has resonated with me through the years.

  • REParent

    +1 to this and to @rhino’s suggestion about SEK’s story of the “sexing students.” I laughed so hard when I read that. And then would revisit it periodically after a particularly challenging interaction with a student.

    Also, the Hitler ‘stache story is awesome performance-art-reportage. I don’t think I’d ever known that such a thing could exist, but it did, and SEK did it, and it was awesome and terrifying and odd.

    This year has been tough. I was kinda counting on more OLDMAN CAT stories and other delights from SEK to help ease into the new world order. Crud.

  • Reynard

    My sincerest condolences to SEK’s family and all of you. I would dearly love to have all his Oldman Cat posts in a form where I could read tham again soon and in the future. There are no other cats on the internets to match Virgil and Mund, as shared by Scott.

  • mattxyz

    Will miss SEK here — condolences to SEK’s family and colleagues:
    Here’s a link to the song, by Amanda Palmer, likely behind the post title:
    https://amandapalmer.bandcamp.com/track/bigger-on-the-inside-3

    Written while she was watching a friend dying of cancer, and incorporating reflections on internet-based blowback and online community – the emotions are particularly apt and I’d been thinking a lot of this song after hearing of SEK’s passing.

    I’ll miss Oldman Cat posts, and the inspiration to learn more about visual rhetoric.

    Mattxyz

  • LNM_in_LA

    Longtime lurker, lurching recently into sometimes replying (my last one showing egregious foot-in-mouth).

    SEK was a big reason I tuned to this here channel daily. OLDMAN CAT, yes, that was always spot on, but in his other writing, here and elsewhere, SEK was always honest, always interesting reading, always intelligent, and at times fierce in all the above.

    To me, the highest intellectual compliment is to say someone is not interesting, per se, but that they are interested. That, with a healthy dose of detailed observation and humor, is how great stories of the human condition are spun out of daily life.

    Boy howdy, SEK was interested.

    And I will, we will, miss him. So selfishly sad that I won’t be reading his stuff in the weird years ahead.

    I am much more sad for those that held him close to their hearts in real life.

    As a friend once said as his spouse lay dying from a similar cause, and at a similar age, just hours from the end:

    “This mortality thing is a serious design flaw”

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