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The “moral panic” of tenured literature professors

[ 30 ] April 9, 2014 |

I scored an interview with the author of the controversial Chronicle article, Marc Bousquet.* I tried to make the stakes of the debate clear to non-academic readers, and I think I succeeded.

Feel free to tell me if I didn’t, and more importantly, why I didn’t. I’m in a bit of a forest-for-the-trees position when it comes to writing about academia. I know the landscape really well, but I’m not entirely sure you’d want me to draw you a map.

*By “scored” I mean I asked him and he said, “Of course!”

Steven Attewell: Why Abraham Riesman Doesn’t Know Jack About Captain America

[ 211 ] April 8, 2014 |

This is a guest post from Steven Attewell. You may have heard he has a new book out

So this filled me with an instant rage this morning; works better than coffee.  Apparently the problem with Captain America in Winter Soldier was that the protagonist in a superhero story was…heroic, or so says Abraham Riesman of Vulture.com:

One would be hard-pressed to name a single false move the title character makes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not only does he save the world and the American dream, he does so while remaining flawlessly kind, endlessly moral, and effortlessly charming at all times. Even Superman might find all that perfection to be a bit much.

But with perfection comes blandness …Cap remains a fundamentally dull character on screen and in the comics: He only grips us because of his place in a larger story, not because his character is inherently fascinating.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Captain America has the potential to be much more interesting — but only if he’s a jerk.

Instantly I felt plunged into nostalgia gone rotten, as if we’d learned nothing from those dark days in the 90s when everyone in the comics industry learned the wrong damn lessons from Watchmen and thought that the way to make comics “adult” wasn’t to have characters grappling with tough moral decisions, or to use comics to bring up important questions about our society, but to throw in a lot of murder, rape, and have all of the heroic protagonists act like assholes all the time, distinguished from the villains only by their lesser degree of sadism.

It was bad enough that we had to suffer through 20 years of “grimdark” masquerading as “maturity,” but why inflict that on the wonderful lightning-in-a-bottle success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially when they’re proven that one of the key elements of their success vis-à-vis the DC movies is their willingness to embrace a sense of lighthearted fun rather than be limited to painting in Christopher Nolan’s dark grey palette?

Read more…

SEK made an experiment!

[ 110 ] April 7, 2014 |

SEK went to the grocery store this afternoon sporting a new hipster mustache to see how people reacted to it…

ONE GUY: Props, my brother, you’re brave. Mad love, man. Mad love.

But that’s to be expected, after all, SEK lives in Louisiana. However…

ANOTHER GUY: Dude, I think you missed a spot.

SEK: Did I?

ANOTHER GUY: An important one.

SEK: Shit, I always forget to shave there.

Lest you have any hope for humanity…

RANDOM TEENAGE GIRL: My friend over there thinks that’s hot.

SEK: Thinks what’s hot?

RANDOM TEENAGE GIRL: You know

Fine. Have a little hope…

OLD GUY: Son, do you know what that means?

SEK: It’s a hipster –

OLD GUY: You can’t bring that back, son.

SEK: What’s old is new, and –

OLD GUY: Some old is dead.

As SEK was leaving the supermarket, two large men covered in tattoos followed him out. SEK started goose-stepping to his car for fear his social experiment had gotten out of hand. Alas, it had not…

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: Can I just shake your hand, bro?

SEK: I don’t see why not.

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: If more of us were like you, bro, this country wouldn’t even be in this shit.

SEK: I imagine not.

LARGE TATTOOED MAN: Keep fucking the faith, bro.

SEK: I…will?

In case you haven’t figured it out…

Read more…

LG&M podcast: Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”

[ 28 ] April 6, 2014 |

Watch the podcast below, whenever YouTube starts behaving, which should be an hour after I post this, if last night is any indication:

Listen to it here.

As per the post below, you can read my re-cap of it, if you’d like.

Steven’s written two pieces at some little outlet called Esquire, which are available here and here.

A link to his book will be available in this post tomorrow morning, once Amazon gets its shit together. right now, actually.

(Also, we’ll resume Season One podcasts as soon as YouTube begins cooperating. We apologize for the delay.)

Don’t call it a re-cap, I’ve been here for years!

[ 3 ] April 6, 2014 |

A re-cap of the episode

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of Game of Thrones you just watched that was written by Yours Truly is available here.

The podcast about the episode by Steven and I will be available whenever YouTube stops jerking us around, which is, I hope, very soon.

LG&M podcast — Game of Thrones, Season One, Episode Eight — “The Pointy End”

[ 23 ] April 5, 2014 |

Here is SEK and Steven Attewell discussing “The Pointy End”:
Audio available here.

Works discussed by Attewell include (warning: these links contain spoilers for all books):

  • Arya IV (why Syrio Forel is dead and would be offended if you said he wasn’t)
  • Sansa IV (why people dislike Sansa, the interview with the Queen, Cersei’s gambit, and more)
  • Sansa V (Joffrey the instant tyrant, Sansa’s plan to save her father wasn’t bad)
  • Tyrion VII (meeting Tywin, the Lannister Campaign of the War of Five Kings, the mountain clans as a comment on democracy and modernity, why Bolton marched)
  • Catelyn VIII (why you don’t need Robb to be dumb to make Catelyn smart, and vice versa, the Lannisters’ opening move and Robb’s choice)
  • Jon VII (ZombieTalk and some other stuff, but mostly ZombieTalk)
  • Daenerys VII (the cost of rightful heirs, Dothraki racism, and more)

“I want to apologize to Daniel Murphy for being a colossal dick”

[ 22 ] April 4, 2014 |

So said Boomer Esiason in both the opening segment and a pre-taped apology on his radio show today — though not, of course, in those words.

I’m mock-offended, of course, because I’m an overly sensitive Mets fan,

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but in all honesty, Esiason’s apology is one of the most thorough, and seemingly heartfelt, I’ve run across.

“We’re all morons,” he said. “Or do you want big words?”

[ 14 ] April 4, 2014 |

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris diagnosed how we ended up in Iraq with a gesture that’s not the least bit particular to him:

Isn’t that how we

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all gesticulate when talking to people who have worn the same jacket since 1983?

“Sir — sir — sir — please, don’t shoot me!”

[ 60 ] April 4, 2014 |

There is no part of this incident that isn’t entirely kosher.

Just ask any member of law enforcement, you’ll see.

LG&M podcast: Game of Thrones, Season One, Episode Seven — “You Win or You Die”

[ 13 ] April 4, 2014 |

Watch SEK and Steven Attewell discuss the seventh episode of the first season of Game of Thrones below:

Audio available here.

Works Attewell discusses (warning these contain spoilers for all books):

  • Jon VI (institutional politics of the Night’s Watch, Mormont’s vision, the limits of meritocracy)
  • Dany VI (the Varys/Illyrio Conspiracy, assassination attempts, false flag operations, and more)
  • Eddard XII (why both Eddard and Cersei were acting crazy)
  • Eddard XIII (the will, Renly and Littlefinger’s offers, the war was going to happen anyway)
  • Eddard XIV (why paper matters, Littlefinger’s nessun dorma, and more)

Not that men are telling women what they should do with their bodies…

[ 99 ] April 3, 2014 |

…but in response to New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy taking three days off to attend the birth of his first child, WFAN radio host and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason said that Murphy should’ve forced his wife to have a C-section before Opening Day so he could “get his ass back to work.”

Murphy’s response most likely looked something like this:

The less offensive NYC radio host response was that paternity leave is a “scam,” a “gimmick,” and when a caller tried to say postpartum depression was real, the host shouted him down, yelling “Stop! Stop, stop, stop — no, stop! Don’t bring up postpartum.”

Stay classy, sports radio.

He also checked under the bed and in the closet for monsters, and promised to leave the hall light on until we fell asleep

[ 29 ] April 3, 2014 |

This revelation would’ve blown my mind back in 1992, but as it stands, I’m just glad I got to totally nerd-out on a former president.

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