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“My name is William Blake. Do you know my poetry?”

[ 59 ] May 11, 2013 |

Because it’s Saturday night and there are (and soon will be) so many new faces around here, I feel the need to remind y’all of who I am and why I “matter.” I welcome other authors to do the same. Point being, I’m an urban legend whose improbable tale just happens to be true. It all began one day back in November 2005, when I dropped by my office on the way to a literary journalism staff meeting:

ME: Do do do do WHOA!

HALF-NAKED COUPLE IN MY OFFICE: GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!

ME: What?

HALF-NAKED FEMALE: DON’T YOU KNOCK? (putting shirt back on)

ME: Before I come into my office?

HALF-NAKED MALE: GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! (buttoning pants)

ME: (starting to enjoy this) I have a student coming in two minutes. Finish up.

HALF-NAKED, BLUE-BALLED MALE: GO ALREADY!

ME: (closes door, waits one minute, knocks) Are you decent?

HALF-NAKED MALE: GO THE FUCK AWAY! THIS IS PRIVATE! WE’RE BUSY!

ME: (holding the door half-open) I’m coming in.

HALF-NAKED MALE: STOP HARASSING US YOU PERVERT OR I’LL REPORT YOU!

ME: (still holding door) You’ll report me for your having sex in my office?

HALF-NAKED MALE: GO THE FUCK AWAY!

ME: (still holding door) That’s it. Put your clothes back on. You can’t have sex in my office.

HALF-NAKED MALE: DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE COME IN HERE!

MY STUDENT: (walking up) What’s going on?

ME: (still holding door) Some people are trying to have sex in my office.  I keep interrupting them.

MY STUDENT: Are they really having sex in there?

HALF-NAKED MALE: THIS IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT!

ME: (props open door with rubber stop) They’re trying.

This continues for a couple more minutes. He shouts profanity, she starts crying. Two minutes later the couple emerges and I receive nasty looks. Who am I to stop them from having sex in my office?

UPDATES CAN BE FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ORIGINAL POST.

An LG&M podcast: SEK and Steven Attewell discuss Game of Thrones, “The Climb”

[ 107 ] May 11, 2013 |

First, Steven and I apologize for the delay. We encountered some technical difficulties — poor internet connectivity foremost among them — and it took me a few days to edit the random clicks and taps from the audio feed without having us sound like Cybermen. Enjoy!

For those of you who think we have faces made for radio (.mp3).

Our very civilized discussion of the premiere (S03E01).

Fancy-talking about “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S03E02).

Here we are blathering on about “Walk of Punishment” (S03E03).

Don’t watch — because you can’t — us discuss “And Now His Watch Has Ended” (S03E04).

The rudely interrupted first half of our discussion of “Kissed by Fire” (S03E05).

The second half of our discussion of religion in “Kissed by Fire” (S03E05).

“YAZI!”

[ 34 ] May 10, 2013 |

Benghazi Day clearly didn’t have the impact it “should have,” so why not start throwing the old standards at the wall and seeing if they stick?

The matter-of-fact tone with which this “revelation” is floated is intended to suggest objectivity, but in reality it’s just an invitation for conservatives to Choose Their Own Adventure. I’m not saying it’s an exercise in wish-fulfillment, but the fact that every path leads to Glenn Beck standing boot-to-neck on Obama’s bloodied body is certainly suggestive of something.

Christians are terrible people

[ 224 ] May 9, 2013 |

SEK pulls his dirty, beaten, decade old Ford Taurus into a toll booth behind PORSCHE GUY from the Republic of FL. SEK’s listening, quite loudly, to the Replacements’ Tim, when he notices PORSCHE GUY seems to be having problems paying his $2.50 toll.

PORSCHE GUY: I only have fifty cents.

TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT: It’s a $57.70 fine.

PORSCHE GUY: I’m not going to pay that.

PORSCHE GUY exits his car and slowly looks around. He turns to SEK, who turns “Bastards of Young” up even louder.

PORSCHE GUY: HEY YOU!

SEK: IT BEATS PICKING COTTON AND WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN!

PORSCHE GUY: I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME!

SEK: (turns down music) What?

PORSCHE GUY: Can I borrow $2?

SEK: (looks at PORSCHE GUY’s Porsche while the fuel injector on his one-eyed Taurus sputters) Sorry. Don’t have it.

PORSCHE GUY: How were you doing the tolls then?

SEK: (realizing PORSCHE GUY knows some logic) I have $5 and change. Just enough to get me to work.

PORSCHE GUY: Can I borrow it?

SEK: I have just enough to get to work.

PORSCHE GUY: Great. You can pay it forward.

SEK: I don’t think that’s how that works.

PORSCHE GUY: Are you a religious man?

SEK: Not remotely.

PORSCHE GUY: Because I am. I believe in Christian charity.

SEK: (looking at PORSCHE GUY’s Porsche) I can tell.

PORSCHE GUY: Great!

PORSCHE GUY gets back in his car and talks to the TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT. Both point at SEK, who vigorously waves his arms in an improvised semaphore of “NO NO NO.” PORSCHE GUY sticks his head out his window and turns to SEK.

PORSCHE GUY: Jesus pays you forward! God bless!

PORSCHE GUY speeds off. SEK pulls up to the toll booth and is informed by TOLL BOOTH ATTENDANT that he’d agreed to cover PORSCHE GUY’s toll. She also informs him that if he doesn’t pay the PORSCHE GUY forward, she’ll be docked for the difference. SEK hands over $5.00 and heads to class.

Merry Benghazi Day!

[ 94 ] May 8, 2013 |

When their parents tucked them into bed last night, conservatives knew they wouldn’t be able to sleep. Tomorrow was Benghazi Day! They’d been waiting all year and putting them to bed at 9:00 p.m. was nothing short of torture. They rolled away from the mocking light of their alarm clocks and tried to fall asleep for hours, but when they rolled back over the clock read 9:04 p.m. Four minutes!

How were they supposed to make it through the night? In a few hours it would be Benghazi Day, and even though they knew exactly what’s under the Benghazi tree, their imaginations were running as wild as Muslims outraged by our freedom. Obama would be impeached! The Democrat Party disbanded! Niggers and faggots rounded up and shot! Benghazi Day couldn’t come soon enough!

They trembled like old men with weak bladders every time they thought they heard those whistles blow. But sleep would not come. Visions of dead Americans danced in their heads to the sweet sounds of a gavel calling liberals to order. They tried counting lies but quickly lost track of which ones were supposed to matter. They thought about the video but then thought better about thinking about it because it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it was almost Benghazi Day!

They rushed downstairs and turned on the television. FOX was interviewing Benghazi Claus! Happy day! He reminded them that “when we were there, on our watch, we were always ready on 9/11.” What an unexpected Benghazi Day present! They were so excited it took everything in their power not to shoot each other in the face.

But it was only 10:00 p.m. Benghazi Day was still hours away!

So they went on the Internet and spent the night writing fan-fiction. When they fell asleep on their keyboards they dreamed of a border whose siren song beckoned illegals and liberals into its electrifying embrace. They saw white men in the White House and women who knew their place. Choirs of aborted babies sang their praises to a God who was clearly carrying. They were dreaming of the day after Benghazi Day and they never wanted to wake up.

Because it was going to be sweet.

And I’m sure it was.

I’m sure it was.

Mad Men: Is the awesomeness of white men really “For Immediate Release”?

[ 67 ] May 6, 2013 |

The majority of people watch Mad Men wrong. What do I mean? A translation of last night’s episode, “For Immediate Release,” from their perspective should suffice:

With the exception of Matt Zoller Seitz and a few others, the majority of responses to this episode have focused on how “satisfying” it was to see Don Draper behaving like Draper again. Meaning the majority of the people writing those responses are still watching the show primarily to experience the thrill of being a powerful white man. The episode, directed by the always excellent Jennifer Getzinger, undermines this reading at nearly every turn. Consider when Sterling announces that he’s landed SCDP a chance at Chevy after Don brushed off Jaguar:

Pete Campbell upbraids Draper, saying “Don’t act like you had a plan, you’re Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine,” creating an image that would seem to correspond with the “appealing” white male narrative above. Draper isn’t just any powerful white man — he’s the walking-talking embodiment of early 20th Century theories of white male supremacy. Like Tarzan, he’s an orphan who cultivates the talents required to survive in a hostile and alien society; and like Tarzan, when he finds himself among “normal” people again, these talents appear superhuman to them. To become king of the apes he had to become more than just a man. In this particular context, Campbell’s insult almost reads like a compliment; however, this isn’t the first time this season we’ve encountered an ostensibly superior white man in a society of apes:

For the second time in two weeks, the show demands we consider the hubris of a white man in the society “unworthy” of his talents. The reference to Tarzan in “For Immediate Release” only seems ambiguous if we conveniently forget that Draper’s mildly obsessed with a film whose premise is that no man — not even a white one on a world mad with apes — is beyond reproach. Campbell’s insult holds these two visions of white male supremacy in tension: Draper can only continue to feel superior if he deliberately forgets what he learned watching Planet of the Apes.

Those critics who found this episode a “return to form” fail to realize that they’re taking comfort in a momentary resurgence of white male privilege — a momentary return to that Golden Age “when things just made sense” that conservatives reference every time a woman, person of color, or anyone under the age of forty-five decides to have an opinion. Wasn’t it grand when self-made men like Draper could impose their will on the world?

The problem with finding “satisfaction” in this episode, then, is that it requires us to ignore the same things Draper does. Note how the medium shot of Campbell upbraiding him is composed: Draper, representing the old guard, is in the foreground, but he’s a face without a brain and out of focus; Campbell, Ken Cosgrove and Joan Harris, representing the generation after Draper’s, occupy the midground; and in the background is an unfocused Michael Ginsberg and sundry, representatives of the new generation. Although no one actually occupies the center of the frame, the dominant element seems to be the irate Campbell, as he’s on the receiving end of Draper and Cosgrove’s stares. But then there’s Joan Harris — the color of whose dress seems out of place and whose eyes meet no one and nothing — there’s Joan Harris on whose back alone the company survived. What does she have to say about Draper’s “return to form”?

Exactly. She doesn’t belong in the story white men tell themselves about how awesome they are — but she does belong to the one currently being told by Mad Men. If only more people watching it realized that.

Just in case you wondered how we feel, collectively, about Game of Thrones

[ 31 ] May 5, 2013 |

One of us — who, I’m not shitting you, isn’t me — has decided that we all deserve sigils a la Game of Thrones. Feel free to create your own here and share them with the class. Should you feel inspired to create better ones for us, I’m all in favor of that too. (As you can see from my sad attempt to best this anonymous wit, I need a little help.) Here’s the one made for me:

Read more…

An LG&M podcast about religion in Game of Thrones featuring SEK and Steven Attewell

[ 38 ] May 5, 2013 |

How do y’all feel about pool parties? Not attending them, mind you, but hearing other people having them in the background of a podcast you’re listening to? Because I think they should make you feel better about yourself, because here you are, listening to an intelligent podcast that makes your brain smarter, whereas the people at the pool party are just drinking and laughing in the Southern California sun. They’ll come home drunk, sun-burned and utterly ignorant about what the Talmud has to say about those who collect shit-tons of mitzvot. Enjoy!

That 38 minute jog you’ve been planning for weeks now? Take Steven and I along for company (.mp3).

Our very civilized discussion of the premiere (S03E01).

Fancy-talking about “Dark Wings, Dark Words” (S03E02).

Here we are blathering on about “Walk of Punishment” (S03E03).

Don’t watch — because you can’t — us discuss “And Now His Watch Has Ended” (S03E04).

The rudely interrupted first half of our discussion of “Kissed by Fire” (S03E05).

Jonah Goldberg “traffick[s] in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago”

[ 32 ] May 5, 2013 |

That theory being, of course, that what he says matters.

It doesn’t.

But what’s frightening is that in this isolated case, he may be right. (In all others? Not so much.) After trying to apply our new Internet Tradition to what Republicans said on the Sunday talk shows, it occurred to me that a weapon this dangerous can’t be allowed to fall into conservative’s grasp.

The power of Peak Exculpation must remain in our scheming hands and our mocking hearts for all eternity. Imagine if conservatives realized that they could say anything they wanted so long as someone followed with a note that they were merely “trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago”? That can’t become acceptable.

Sadly, given Jonah’s ability to influence conservative “scholars,” I’m sure it’ll become more than acceptable — it’ll become the excuse du jour among the professionally wrong. It’s not their fault they’re old and white and male, so how can they be held accountable for “trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago.”

If you have an issue with their obsolete positions, take it up with Father Time, Jefferson Davis and The Patriarchy.

NOTE: Someone who knows how to use the Twitter machine better than I should show @JonahNRO the power of his despicable phrase. Start a clever #hashtag and all. I’m just saying!

Thank you, Jonah Goldberg, for this new Internet Tradition

[ 116 ] May 4, 2013 |

I’ve already kicked a downed Goldberg while having a laugh and taking a piss on him today, so you know that I wouldn’t target him again unless he wrote something so exquisite his nuts left my knees no choice.

Which is exactly what happened.

According to Jonah in the article the Other Scott linked, Niall Ferguson should be forgiven because he “was trafficking in an old theory that was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago.” Not since “a very serious, thoughtful argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care” has Jonah provided us with a sentence of such valuable vapidity.

Consider its lack of specificity: the “old theory” is “old,” but there’s no indication as to how old it is; not that its age matters, mind you, because this “old theory” wasn’t merely acceptable back then, it was “perfectly within the bounds” of polite society; moreover, “not very long ago” this “old theory” wasn’t merely “perfectly within the bounds” of decorum, it belonged to the “intellectual discourse,” meaning that the right kind of people discussed this “old theory” all the time, whenever that happened to be.

Thanks to Jonah’s brilliant formulation, conservatives can now blame recent historical “traffic” — of an unspecified age and purview — for every vile thought that leaks through their lips. It’s not their fault we’re unfamiliar with social etiquette from whenever it was.

I feel like a bad person. Not that I am one.

[ 47 ] May 4, 2013 |

Ben Shapiro’s a beanie wearin’ homosexual!?

[ 59 ] May 3, 2013 |

Well I’ll be! I always thought Ben Shapiro’s name was “Ben Shapiro.” I know it used to be. Breitbart says I need an update:

I wonder what his Jew priest will say when he learns Ben tossed off his slave straight name to honor a black gay? Who cares! For the first time in my life I’m tempted to feel pride in the little shit.

Too bad they can’t all be Jason Collins now.

UPDATE: Jason “Ben” Collins’s standard of heroism explained.