I want to -- but can't -- hate the person who roped me into this conversation My email was added to some conversation about whether or not Robert E. Lee was a racist or a patriot, the majority of the claims made therein were beyond ridiculous, but I ignored it because I’m not one to feed trolls who write things like “You sought to destroy the legacy of a truly great man, and you were called on by alpha males, so shut up and crawl back in the sewer you came from.” But the sentence that followed that was one up with which I could not put, because it was delivered with absolute seriousness: “Don’t mess with bulls, you’ll get the horns.” To which I responded, because as a child of the ’80s, I couldn’t not: I have no idea who any of you are, or why I’ve been included in this ridiculous ‘conversation’ — it doesn’t matter what one believes, but what one fights for, and however brilliantly he fought, Robert E. Lee still fought treasonously in defense of slavery, end of story — but I couldn’t let this pass: Don’t mess with bulls, you’ll get the horns. Because whatever ‘alpha male’ wrote that failed to understand the fundamental point of that statement, which was that it’s the sort of thing a person who mistakenly believes he’s an alpha male says to a bunch of misfit teenagers in order to put them under his thumb, and his ploy fails spectacularly. It saddens me that some poor soul watched that film and that was the lesson he took away from it. Because what a sorry excuse for a life that person must live, always thinking he’s the bully because he’s not smart enough to realize just how ineffective his bullying is, strutting around declaring himself to be ‘winning’ before an audience that exists only in his mind. Feel free to delete my address from future replies, because I’m not sure I can bear much more of this sad masculine charade. I was merely killing time while the file I still need to transcribe before bed was uploading, but of course, he responded and I’m incapable of not doing likewise, at least not tonight: I’m your worst nightmare prick. Now get back in the men’s room with the other girls. You’re nothing of the sort. You’re a sad, insecure man spouting his nonsense on the Internet, unaware that he’s making a spectacle of himself by quoting masculine lines that anyone with half a brain would understand were meant to emasculate the character in context. It’s a distressing display, as I noted, so I guess you are my worst nightmare — I’d hate end up as pathetic as you clearly are. I thought that’d be the end of it, but no: Go tell mommy. You seem quite fond of talking about other people’s mothers, which makes it abundantly clear that you have issues with your own. Would you like to talk about them? Did you she not applaud your feats of masculinity adequately enough? Because that would cause...
SEK on Hamilton, because SEK's always about Hamilton now You're probably tired of hearing me on Hamilton, but too bad -- my blog my rules. I was thinking about the live performance Lin-Manuel Miranda did at the White House in 2009 that drew attention to the then-unfinished project, not because it's spectacular -- even though it is -- but because of how it demonstrated the power of literary speech to upend utterly the mood of a room. And not just any room, but one in which half of the people in it were side-long glancing at the president trying to figure out the appropriate response to this politically charged subject -- Hamilton's not an uncontroversial figure, after all, especially in a country in the midst of a series of banking crises like we were in 2009. But initially it's all a joke -- the audience laughs along when it hears contemporary Democratic talking points about "self-starters" -- until Miranda hits what appears to be the punchline at 2:16, "His name is Alexander Hamilton," the camera cuts to the president and first lady getting the joke, and from there it should have been political theater. But Miranda immediately undercuts it, barely even letting that laughter linger, with the next line, "There's a million things he hasn't done, just you wait, just you wait." He turns that punchline -- "Hello, this is me making a rap about the Founding Fathers, you know, for kids" -- into what's essentially a threat, "just you wait, just you wait." The lyrics start to unwrite themselves, start to unravel, as it becomes clear that the lyric "His name is Alexander Hamilton" shares more with ODB declaring "I'm the original G-O-D" than Broadway fare. And then the whole performance, at least from the audience's perspective, goes sideways. Political calculus becomes impossible as Hamilton's becomes a human story about a 10-year-old bastard and orphan, a self-made companion to a suicide becomes the quintessential story of the kind that -- when not about Founding Fathers, of course -- conservatives loathe. The story of an autodidact, sans family, who earns a place in history on the strength of his flow, and as you watch Miranda's performance you can feel the mood of the room shift. Of course there's room for criticism -- it certainly doesn't hurt that Hamilton's a white man who is, almost literally, the face of American capitalism -- but there's sympathy in those devils snapping along with something they'd otherwise revile. By the time Miranda enjoins the audience that "the ship is in the harbor now, see if you can spot him/Another immigrant coming up from the bottom," you get the feeling even Donald Trump would be on board.