Saturday, 17 April 2010

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Kick Ass sorta saved my life the other night. Not literally, mind you, but because I'm me, I had problems getting through the British border. I'd like to blame the boorish American behind me—he loudly informed everyone in earshot of his annoyance with the fact that there was one line for travelers with British or EU passports, another for everyone else, but none specifically for Americans—but the manner in which the border people roped him in and out of aisles until he'd "advanced" to the end of the line suggests that they were too busy harassing him to hold me accountable for his behavior. Still, I should've known that a man of Irish descent wouldn't be able to sneak into Britain so easily. To wit: BORDER GUARD: Whair ya ere? SEK: Academic conference. BORDER GUARD: Whir arr ya stain? SEK: London then Manchester. BORDER GUARD: Wheer in Lunun? SEK: With this guy. BORDER GUARD: Wishes? SEK: I don't know, but I have his number. BORDER GUARD: An in 'anchester? SEK: The conference hotel. BORDER GUARD: Wish wood be? SEK: I don't know, but I can pull it up on my laptop— BORDER GUARD: Pool itup ten. (SEK tries in vain to access his email.) SEK: It's not connecting to any network. BORDER GUARD: Whatis confrence bout? SEK: Graphic novels— BORDER GUARD: Jew mean like Kick Ass? SEK: Just like— (BORDER GUARD spends ten minutes talking about Kick Ass, stopping only long enough to ask an occasional question that proves that I've read it.) BORDER GUARD: Good sir, ya go true now, go true. Which, God damn it, means I owe Mark Millar a favor, damn it.
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I've run away to England, I have. I apologize for not writing more, but I've been out and about in beautiful England: That's a photograph I took this morning, and as you can see, the evidence that I'm in the midst of an impending apocalypse is a little thin on the ground. That's the grand irony of Eyjafjallajoekull's wrath: it has turned England into Southern California, which annoys me immensely, as I came here with the expectation of weather—brought an umbrella and everything—but here I am sitting in 72 degree weather with neither a cloud nor contrail in the sky. It's a beautiful day, and the natives are right to be enthused, but you can understand my disappointment. This apocalypse simply doesn't feel very apocalyptic, which is itself ironic, given that when I was visiting Adam Roberts the other day I argued that Updike's Toward the End of Time failed as a novel because its post-apocalyptic narratives were pre-apocalyptically mundane. My argument can be condensed into a sentence: the trope of 9/10-type thought is effective because America reinvented itself as a police state the next day. That's what that apocalypse wrought. When something this large happens, life doesn't simply continue as if nothing happened except in this case. Finally, to allay some of the concerns I've received via email: I'm safe and secure and not emptying my savings into some hotel chain's coffers. I'm staying with a friend and will be until Iceland ceases its offensive against the good people of Europe.

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