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SEK’s new AV Club Internet Film School column: On the importance of contiguity in Orange Is the New Black

[ 17 ] June 19, 2014 |

tastyee

My new column is up! And the title of it references a beloved Internet Tradition!

Sample:

What had, minutes earlier, been an audition for the role of “child” in a production of “family” has transformed into one for the role of “cog” in “drug enterprise.” The confusion created by placing these scenes back-to-back will resonate throughout the season, as Taystee must decide whether Vee is a caring mother figure or an exacting boss. Initially, at least, she seems to understand the difference—but as the episode progresses, the amount of emotional energy she invests in acquiring a job becomes increasingly excessive, making the stitching of these two scenes together seem increasingly meaningful.

Cheese dreams are made of these

[ 85 ] June 18, 2014 |

Last night, I dreamt I’d become a sensation on the Texas rabbinical circuit. I went from makeshift Texas synagogue to makeshift Texas synagogue — they refuse to build real synagogues in Texas, after all, so Jews there celebrate the Sabbath in sweltering temporary shelters — and all I did was call God a dick and invite people to argue otherwise. Because they were Jewish, they mightily obliged.

I blamed God for killing beloved pets and parents and the like, and people responded that He made Israel possible, that we wouldn’t be here without Him. I would say, “No, that’s Hitler you’re thinking of,” and they’d be even more upset. It was great fun.

Eventually, because it’s Texas, someone tried to assassinate me — Me! The most popular itinerant rabbi in Texas! — and my last thought was, “I hope they name some shit sinkhole of a kibbutz after me.”

Point being, that sharp horseradish cheddar I ate right before I went to bed last night? I’m absolutely doing that again.

Feel free to share the dream of yours most likely to be adapted by the Coen brothers in the comments. If you’re at a loss, I recommend eating some cheese and grabbing a nap.

SEK’s final Game of Thrones recap until next May is now up

[ 113 ] June 16, 2014 |

You’ll have to wait another nine months for my next recap, so savor this one!

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast: SEK & Attewell on Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”

[ 12 ] June 9, 2014 |

Yes, this is a week late, and for that, we apologize. We shall have the next done forthwith, we promise!

Audio can be found here.

SEK’s Game of Thrones recap, Season 4, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”

[ 104 ] June 9, 2014 |

In all seriousness:

Meh.

Podcast for last week’s episode — which was decidedly not meh – will go up later today.

Before we pile on Žižek, we probably ought to consider the source

[ 106 ] June 3, 2014 |

I know it’s fun to make fun of Žižek — but I think Paul and Scott both missed something crucial about Rebecca Schuman’s broadside: it’s ridiculous beyond the point of stupidity. I’m not defending the man — I’m on the record as not being a fan — but at least I had the common courtesy to read work written by and about him before beginning the ritual slagging.

Because that’s what this is — a gussied up version of the annual conservative articles about the MLA written by intrepid reporters whose investigations amount to “flipping through the MLA catalog and writing down the names of funny sounding sessions.” Anyone could string together a series of bitter remarks made by put-upon academics if said academics had a camera pointed at them all the time. I’m not defending what Žižek said — he knew he was on camera or the record — merely noting that the manner in which this article was constructed is highly suspect.

Unless, that is, you think this a fine piece of journalism.

Exactly.

Whenever someone writes a condemnatory sentence as hedged as this one:

I have no idea what a superstar like Žižek gets paid, and I don’t know if he actually fills his office-hours sign-up sheet with fake names so that none of the “boring idiots” come and bother him with their stupid problems, as one New School faculty member has apparently claimed.

You should seriously consider not taking that person seriously. What I just wrote about The Donalde almost exactly obtains here:

Where do you even begin with this drivel? The initial confession of ignorance? The non-sequitur in the next clause? The non-sequitur in the next sentence? The second admission of ignorance? Or the confident statement of fact about what is really going on with the thing [she] twice-professed he knows nothing about?

When you only need to alter one pronoun to make a true statement about The Donalde apply to someone else, do you really want to take that person seriously?

Speaking of old times, have I mentioned lately how much better the world would be if this guy could be fired?

[ 170 ] June 3, 2014 |

A certain someone noticed that Charli mocked his pretensions of professionalism in her anniversary post:

[W]e sometimes blog to take partisan positions in political debates affecting national or foreign policy, using our credentials as academics to lend an air of authority to what are essentially personal opinions. This is what a certaine right-winge bloggere who shall not be namede does almost exclusively, for example.

He took exception to her characterization of him:

I don’t much care about lending “an air of authority” to my blogging. Frankly, I’d rather people not know I’m a professor[.]

Sure he doesn’t. That profile is automatically generated by the Great Google. He has no choice but to inform the world what he does for a living — and that’s probably for the best, considering how difficult it would be to tell otherwise. I mean:

I don’t follow Spanish politics, but I know the British monarchy is the key to that country’s historical continuity. Britain’s also the birthplace of parliamentary democracy.

Not sure about Spain. But still, it’s a bloodthirsty anti-monarchy push for the left.

Where do you even begin with this drivel? The initial confession of ignorance? The non-sequitur in the next clause? The non-sequitur in the next sentence? The second admission of ignorance? Or the confident statement of fact about what is really going on with the thing he twice-professed he knows nothing about?

Academics would love it if The Donalde quit claiming to be a member of their ranks — no one wants to be the colleague of someone who believes two professions of ignorance and two non-sequiturs can function as premises to anything resembling an argument. So it’s probably for the best that The Donalde never mentions that he’s a professor –

My college is roughly 50 percent Hispanic, and when students write their semester news analysis notebooks, the view that illegal immigration is just “immigration” is almost uniform among that demographic. Virtually all of my Latino students have a close relative or a friend who is illegal.

I said: it’s probably for the best that The Donalde never mentions –

LBCC is ranked 53 among the state’s community colleges, with 89 students transferring to a UC campus in 2012-13.

I said: it’s probably for the best that –

Longtime readers will recall that I took my Ph.D. from UCSB, and I lived in Santa Barbara for seven years.

I give up. He talks about being a professor all the time and, as Charli noted in her post, especially when doing so lends an air of authority to his semi-literate ramblings. Case in point:

I have not read the article at the Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations.”

If an actual academic wrote that sentence, it could only function as a prelude to a non-statement. I don’t even think I have the right to talk about anything I haven’t read in the past five years, much less something I’m admitting to have never read. Not so with The Donalde:

The “case for reparations” is just recycled race-baiting far-left hatred and recrimination. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a mountebank and a huckster.

No respectable academic would follow the claim “I have not read X” with “This is what X is.” But The Donalde is no respectable academic. He desperately wants to remind you that he is an academic irrespective of what sort of academic they are:

I saw the ad online yesterday while teaching.

He did not see the ad in his office before class. He did not see the ad on his iPad on the way to class. He saw the ad while he was teaching. While.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad he stopped sharing his soft-core pornography collection with his students — but I wonder how much his students appreciate paying good money to watch their professor read The New York Times during class. I take that back — I’m sure watching him read is highly preferable to having to listen to him talk.

Lawyers, Guns & Money’s 10th Anniversary Festivities

[ 10 ] June 2, 2014 |

In case you missed it, we turned 10 over the weekend and threw ourselves a little party. All your old friends where there:

It was a party, so shut up, I thought everyone deserved a nickname. Anyhow, you can find all our remembrances of our time here, and you’re more than welcome to link to your own, as I saw a number of you wrote them up in the comments, and it’d be nice to have them in one place too.

The GOP’s 2014 Hispanic Outreach Plan

[ 43 ] June 2, 2014 |

Can’t get elected as a Republican named “Scott Fistler”? Why, just change your name to “Cesar Chavez,” become a Democrat, and run in a majority Hispanic district!

What could possibly go wrong?

SEK’s Game of Thrones recap: “The Mountain and The Viper”

[ 115 ] June 2, 2014 |

 

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This week’s recap comes complete with necessary references to both My Girl and Apocalypse Now. Something to whet your appetite:

A key aspect of this scene is that Graves lets the camera linger on both Missandei and Grey Worm for a few beats too long before reversing the shot, which creates an odd effect. Instead of seeing how the other character is reacting to what each of them says — which is what typically happens with a reverse shot, as Person A says something and the camera cuts to Person B reacting to it — Graves allows the audience to see both Missandei and Grey Worm reacting to what they’ve just said, which calls to mind the self-conscious awkwardness of a first date. They’re both judging themselves before they give the other a chance to, and it’s charming, because they’re both far more forgiving of the other’s missteps than they are of their own.

Professors, Beards, and Beer Oh My!

[ 124 ] June 1, 2014 |

A sociology professor was fired after his likeness appeared on a local brewery’s beer cans.

I can’t think

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of anyone around here bearded or beer-y enough that this could possibly happen to.

Nope, not a soul.

Happy Tenth Birthday? Anniversary? Whatever you call it, have a happy one, LG&M!

[ 33 ] May 31, 2014 |

It feels strange to think that this is the tenth anniversary of this humble little blog, and stranger still when I realize that means I’ve been around for half of its life, as my first post was back in 2009.

Since then, I’ve written 821 posts — approximately 164 per year, if my math doesn’t fail me — which is a frighteningly absurd number to consider, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll note that most days I still feel like “the new guy,” so much so that when I don’t post for a week, I’m always reluctant to post again for fear I’ve been demoted during my absence. (Of course, that’s never been the case, and both the folks in the masthead and you lot in the comments have always welcomed me back.)

But Rob asked us to think about what the tenth anniversary means — at least, that’s how I understood his email — and for me, it’s likely a little different from everybody else, because right now what it means is that I have a career.

Most of you already know that my job at the AV Club was a direct result of this post, and my opportunity to write for RogerEbert.com came from this one and its laser beams.

But most of you probably don’t know that my main job, at Raw Story, can also be directly attributed to my time here.

When I decided to leave California last year — for a whole host of reasons, some related to my family, others stemming from my general hatred of the state — I had planned on continuing my academic career in the South. I had two jobs lined up, one of which could easily have turned into a tenure-track position, but I wouldn’t say I was looking forward to it.

I enjoyed teaching as much as I ever did, but I’d grown tired of the stuff that all academics grow tired of, and so I did what all academics do when they’re tired of such stuff — I bitched about it on Facebook. One of the people who read my bitching and knew my work from here encouraged me to apply for a job for which I wasn’t remotely qualified at Raw Story, so I did.

As I haven’t been fired yet, you can guess how that worked out.

My point is, I owe Other Scott, Rob, Dave, Other Dave, David, Erik, Paul, Beth, and Charli quite a bit. I’ve managed to turn my random life and failed academic career into a living, and I wouldn’t have been able to have pulled it off were it not for Lawyers, Guns & Money.

Eventually, I hope to get back into the swing of attacking conservatives for the conservative things they say, but it’s taken me a long time to learn how to write without an overtly editorial voice, so writing with one feels a little schizophrenic. I’m sure, in time, I’ll be able to deal, because it’s not like I don’t have opinions anymore.

Similarly, this summer I’m going to start doing visual rhetoric series, beginning with one on the first half of this season of Mad Men. Then it’s on to The Sopranos, which I’m now watching for the first time thanks to Amazon Prime. It’s all about developing a new, non-academic writing routine, which I haven’t been able to do yet because freelancing is much harder than it seems.

And, of course, I’ll keep on turning my life into one act plays, because that’s what I do. (Sad as it is to say, I owe these two jackasses more than I’d like to admit, since they’re the ones who put me on the radar in the first place.)

Honestly, the only thing I’d change about the place — and I’m sorry if this offends anyone on the masthead, but I’ve been meaning to say it for a long time now — but I really hate our logo. It’s missing that je ne sais quoi, but I mocked up a possible new one:

mockup

Isn’t that just much better?

SEK’S FAVORITE POSTS:

I’m really not the one who should be compiling this list, because I have the memory of an inattentive llama at this point, but if I had to choose, I’d say I thoroughly enjoyed creating a new internet tradition, teaching people what violent rhetoric is, wearing a hat, and being busted. As well as all those posts breaking down Mad Men, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones. And the podcast with Steven Attewell, even if they throw my technological shortcomings into high relief.

Like I said, you’re probably better suited to telling me which of the 812 posts I’ve written are the best. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to write them here.

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