What They Blogged For.

Love. Hate.

Before we say our final goodbye, I just wanted to leave you with a random sampling of posts from some of my favorite people on this blog:

Benjie’s Skyrim addiction.

Occam Razor on “The Seven Robots You Meet In Heaven.”

Benjie and I watching New Moon and The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2.

A Movie Script Ending.”

The MPDG vs. the Amazing Girl, Heroes vs. BSG, and Kirsten Dunst vs. Kate Hudson.

Peanut St. Cosmo saying goodbye to her Blackberry.

(And really, just anything by Peanut, cause there’s too many to list.)

Fuck Yeah Sayid!

Anytime we talked about Lost.

High Fidelity vs. 500 Days Of Summer.

Hey, Shitface, Get Off My Lawn!”

Benjie and August Bravo on internet hype, and meeting expectations, and also Super 8.

Independence Day 2?

The end of the Counterforce podcast, and the birth of Time Travel Murder Mystery.

J Fran Fran.

Jonathan Franzen and his “Strong Motion.”

Benjie on his favorite sequel ever.

Occam Razor on a post peak oil world, and big booty bitches.

Benjie on how to properly spend New Year’s Eve.

While my torrent gently downloads” by Benjamin Light.

This is by no means a complete list, not at all. It is, in fact, an extremely rushed list. And may actually be a really terrible retrospective, at least in terms of showing what we did best, when we did our best, but oh well.

It’s just a few of my favorites. I would invite you to explore further, if you get the chance.


Past Prologue: September, 2009 – Part Two.

Continued from Part One.

As I said in the previous post: The end looms large, but is still a ways away and down the road a bit. But I kind of wanted to look back a little, month by month, at this blog. Maybe not every single month, but most, if I can. I guess I’m getting reacquainted with what I’m saying goodbye to? Or maybe in the back of my mind I’m always remembering that you have to put the chairs up before you turn the lights off and go home…

And we continue.


09/16/09: Children Are Our Future by Conrad Noir: Linking to the then current Newsweek cover story, “Is Your Baby Racist?” And in the comments section, you’ll see that Peanut St. Cosmo offers a good point on this.


09/17/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus,” by yours truly: I’ve always been fascinated by the Frankenstein story, inside and out. The story itself, the way it’s constantly adapted and how it is, but also with its writer and the creation of the story.

There’s one more post in September of 2009 about this, and I was going to do a whole series of things, just exorcising some of my fascination with everything to do with Mary Shelley and her monster and the connections I was seeing between that and other things I was interested in. The series fell through, obviously, and I never said everything I wanted to say, and sadly, that moment has passed. For now.

But it still interests me, the way we focus all of our frustrations and excitements and failings into the characters and monsters that we create, and then we let them loose into the world. Sometimes those monsters redeem us and sometimes they destroy us. Sometimes they live on long after we’re gone, stuck between the darkness and the light.


09/18/09: Hell Is A Teenage Girl by myself: Speaking of Megan Fox and whoa!-mankind and monsters. Jennifer’s Body was not a great movie, but it was certainly an interesting one. Easily the best possible vehicle for Megan Fox (and for Adam Brody).


09/19/09: Spirits and Sexy Singularities in the Noosphere by myself: This post is so typically me. Honestly, this is the kind of wacky shit that I’m reading about all the time.

It’s just interesting to me now to see discussion of The Lost Symbol turning into Dan Simmon’s The Fall Of Hyperion, then turning into talk of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Omega Point, and a thinly veiled pondering/lusting about 2012.


09/20/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus, part two: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves,” by yours truly: Again, with the Frankenstein, but also tying into that classic (it is a classic, right?) episode of The X-Files. Otherwise known as “The Cher Episode.”

What can I say? This series, or longer essay, or whatever you want to call it, was going to start small and then get bigger. Instead, it just stayed small. The lack of further movement on it really betrayed its connective tissue.


09/21/09: American Jokes Are Better Than British Jokes,” by August Bravo and myself: Ha ha. This was a great episode of Mad Men. Ahhh, the tractor episode. The British are coming, they came, and then they left, and they left part of their feet behind.

Also, August Bravo is barely hiding his desire to be physically dominated by Ken Cosgrove here.


09/22/09: There Are Two Kinds Of Light,” by myself: More links, interesting quotes, and pretty pictures. The light that glows, and the light that blinds: that’s interesting, and charming wisdom from Thurber.

Part of why I started with this month to look back on first is that it’s September, just like it is now, here in 2012 as I write this, but also because it was just a little over a year after the blog had started. You’d think we’d have found our legs a little, kicked off some of the training wheels, for example. In intrigues me to notice that when Counterforce was really rolling, there was always two kinds of themes to each month, as if each month was its own issue of a magazine or some kind of periodical: the theme that was intended, and the one that was unintended.

I know, I know, that’s some hardcore Wittgenstein-like wisdom there.


09/23/09: Because It Needs To Be Said,” by me: Well… yeah. What’s said is here is as true in 2012 as it was in 2009, only more so, I guess. Enough said.


09/24/09: PSA by me: Whatever. Cthulhu is funny to me. We create our monsters to embody that which we most find fault within ourselves, and then those monsters proceed to drive us insane and enslave humanity and collapse reality upon itself. It’s just one of those things.


09/25/09: Just because we saw this show doesn’t mean it has to happen,” by myself: I wonder how similar me ranting about the pilot to Flashforward is to Benjie ranting about the pilot to Revolution.

Neither of these shows is or was the new Lost, and I think that’s important to say because clearly the ghost of Lost still haunts network TV. They were trying to resurrect it with Lost even before the show was officially over.

I remember reading Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, Flash Forward, and thinking it was interesting, even if it was a little weak. There were certainly elements there to create an interesting TV show out of it, but David Goyer and the rest of the show’s makers clearly avoided those parts altogether. Instead Flashfoward the TV show plays out like the most pathetic of all Sideways Universes, in which Charlie and Penny Widmore are still out there somewhere, and things are just really, really mediocre.


09/26/09: Cosmic Caturday.” Meow.


09/27/09: It’s only a matter of time before we all burn by myself: I really like that Death Cab song, and it’s interesting how music can transform and transport you. In this case, a song took me back to a place that I used to live in, one that only exists in my memories now, and was on fire.

Also, this was back when Benjamin Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel were still married, LOL.


09/28/09: Maybe I’m late because I was spending time with my family reading the bible,” by that fucker August Bravo and myself: Again, it’s just weird to me to relive this season of Mad Men through these posts as I look back at them. The show was always so good about the connection between and identity and a name, about crossing boundaries, and playing with all of those things at the same time.

And Don’s always been very hard on Peggy, hasn’t he? Telling her what he’s needed to hear, as if he’s fully recreated himself within her. I’m looking forward to how they keep her character integrated into this show as it continues, but that’s the future, and that’s another place, especially when we’re talking about the past.


09/29/09: Perennial with the Earth by myself: I really liked this ad campaign, or at least, it stuck with me as a piece of art, beyond it’s creation as a piece of advertisement. The perfect marriage of Walt Whitman, jeans, and the “idea” of America.


09/29/09: Things that make you say, hmm…?” by the always amazing Peanut St. Cosmo: Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Someone should remake My Dinner With Andre just starring those two guys. Maybe it could be directed by Peanut St. Cosmo, who is always sorely missed when she’s not appearing in Counterforce.


09/30/09: Eternities Of Darkness by myself: The month ends like it began, with links and pictures. But now there’s men and women, pictures in black and white, and words by Nabokov. The continuation of that quote, which is from Speak, Memory, is: “Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour.)”

As I’ve said before, my favorite band name (but certainly not my favorite band) is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, which is just a great name.

And that’s how this month, September in 2009, ended, with us declaring our love for you (perhaps), and abandoning the light for a time to sail away into the darkness.

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

It’s only a matter of time before we all burn.

The other day someone came up to me and asked about the continuing fire situation in the southern California area. “It looks like the end of the world,” they told me and were then shocked when I wasn’t shocked by that statement. They asked me if it was still going on, if the fires were still burning, and they asked this as if I knew the answer. Being primarily a still a Californian deep down in my weird little DNA, I’ll constantly let people know where I’m from (in case it’s not obviously and readily apparent why I’m better than them on a variety of levels), but it’s a double edged sword in that I’m expected to have an answer everytime some new weird or stupid piece of news comes out of the Golden State.

So, my answer to this question about the fires was simply: “I don’t know.”  Then the question came: You know a lot of people there, right? Wouldn’t they know from the constant smoke in the distance? Me: “If you live in LA, or spend signifigant time there, I think you make a kind of peace with a lot of things there being perpetually fucked up. The air, especially.” This answer only prompted confusion.

So I attempted a clarification: “Listen, here’s the thing about how people in California operate: Unless your house is on fire, or you’re personally bein evacuated, or it’s fucking up some sex you’re trying to get or, I don’t know, your pot delivery, or something, you don’t really care about a whole lot of other people’s tragedy.”

That’s of course both true and not true. Californians are not that soulless, not really. On the surface, maybe, but deep down… they’re primarily still human beings. Don’t ask me for evidence of their humanity, but just take my word for it, okay? And if you don’t, I’m sure someone will come along soon enough to make a movie with heart that proves me right. But recently, I saw someone put the situation best: “Because the world is always ending in Los Angeles, we are not necessarily surprised when it does. We are also not surprised when the world keeps going on after that.”

from here.

Anyway, after the question and answer exchange about my home land, I came back to my lair, the whole exchange floating around in the back of my head, and I put on my music player, hit random, and the first song given to me was Death Cab For Cutie‘s “Grapevine Fires,” from their nice enough last album, Narrow Stairs.

The video for the song, see above, directed by the Walter Robot duo, is a lovely affair, very nice and effective, but as with so many music videos, it doesn’t follow the lyrical narrative of the song, which is especially a shame here, I think. Particularly since, for me, one of Ben Gibbard’s strengths isn’t just the sonic aspect of his songwriting, the chords he chooses or how well he plays them, but just the way he manages to capture a tone to flow through his short stories.

The songwriter and his brand new bride.

And “Grapevine Fires” is one of the most lovely, most melancholy short stories I think he’s ever released, a beautiful song, drenched in a harmony fit for a funeral, a juxtaposition of the beautiful and the tragic as a man, a woman, the woman’s daughter, all go for a picnic in a cemetery in the Los Angeles area to watch the fires in the distance. There’s wine and some paper cups for the couple, who may have already been evacuated, as they watch the desolation unfolding and the young girl, not aware of the seriousness, or perhaps despite it, just dances around. “The northern sky looks like the end of days” as the man watches her and realizes that, no matter what, everything’s gonna be just fine. Even when it isn’t. Maybe it’ll rain, maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s only a matter of time. And you’re alive today.

Counterforce After Dark: Your Housemate Woke You Up So You Cannot Go Back To Sleep and You Can Not Sleep The Day Away Tomorrow So You Are Sad Edition

Songs to listen to at 5am by the blue light of the MacBook:

80 Windows is the best song on Nada Surf’s sophomore debut, The Proximity Effect. It is insomnia, dark nights, expanses full of nothing. And lyrics so exquisitely sad you’ll want to scrawl them all over your mead composition notebook.

My co-bloggers like the more recent Death Cab for Cutie, which makes me want to bleed from my ears. I prefer the angrier Ben Gibbard, before he cashed in on the Dork Lottery by marrying Zooey Deschanel. Something About Airplanes is DCFC at their lo-fi, un-polished amateur, biting, cynical best. The selection: Champagne From A Paper Cup.

Most of Elliott Smith’s catalog is perfect for middle of the night self loathing, but Between The Bars is hit going to hit really close. I promise.

Being up all night produces rapid mood swings, from euphoria to profound sadness to frustration and back again. This song, a remix of a Modest Mouse/764-Hero song is for the happy stage. Lay on your bed and stare at the ceiling. If you have windows and live in a place where stars are viewable, look at them. Smoke em if you got em. Etc.

When it comes time to think of all the relationships you’ve no doubt messed up and get wistful and longing, the time has come for Depeche Mode. Go ahead and mouth the lyrics: vows are spoken to be broken, feelings are intense, words are trivial.

When the sun starts to come up, you’ve finally hit that elusive wall and the exhaustion settles into your bones, put on Zero 7’s Distractions to slowly carry you onto the other side. Congratulations. You’ve made it. See you in a few hours.

How do you make God laugh?

It’s Sunday on the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and everything feels, I don’t know, a little laid back. At home, at work, everywhere, right? What better time to take it easy and relax, what do you say? Why don’t you relax with us as we listen to one of our favorite albums, Plans, by Death Cab For Cutie, courtesy of youtube, hmm?

Track 01: “Marching Bands Of Manhattan

“It’s true what you said, that I live like a hermit in my own head,” is a line from this song that I’ve never been able to shake, honestly. On an album that is so very much about the Big Issues such as death and loss, I think this line is incredibly important. Because after you lose something, where do you go?

Track 02: “Soul Meets Body

This was the first single from the album and, of course, leaked early onto the internet. The record label was understandably displeased with that development, but Ben Gibbard was quoted as saying, “I love it. The more anarchy we can give the record industry, the better.” Personally, I think that’s the perfect thing for the lead singer of a much beloved and respected indie band to say about the first single from their major label debut, don’t you?

Track 03: “Summer Skin

Much the same way that Radiohead couldn’t possibly exist in it’s current form without Thom Yorke’s voice, the same could be said for Ben Gibbard‘s voice. Not just his lyrics, mind you, but his voice too. It holds the entire package together, buoying it nicely on his foundation of fragile intimacy and a boyish sense of romance, both idealized and heartbreakingly remembered.

Track 04: “Different Names For The Same Thing

This is was (before the lawyers snuck in there) the version of Directions, the video album that followed shortly after the release of Plans, and which gave 12 different directors a chance to interpret the songs their own way. This video is directed by Autumn de Wilde. The video is quirky and silly, but it’s always really fun and I like it a lot.

Track 05: “I Will Follow You Into The Dark

This was the third single released from the album, and probably the best known song from the album. And while it’s not a title track, it’s almost certainly the mission statement of the album. Of the song, Ben Gibbard said this: “It’s the just idea that what if somebody dies and we’re just floating, just stumbling around in infinite darkness, and I’m just trying to find some kind of spiritual kind of peace with myself, and the world.” This is a home made video I found online, and there’s two official videos, one for the single release featuring Gibbard playing the song on his band while an expanding dark abyss begins growing on the floor of his apartment and one from Directions. I didn’t find the the single version, but if you can, I highly recommend watching it.

Track 06: “Your Heart Is An Empty Room

“And all you see is where else you can be when you’re at home,” the song says. “On on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone.” A perfect description of self-enforced loneliness, perhaps?

Track 07: “Someday You Will Be Loved

To me this sounds very much like a Decemberists’ song and it’s a lovely reverse on what you think you’re in for with the somewhat sappy title because the boy is leaving the girl here, telling her that soon she’ll forget about him when someone new comes along, which seems to be quite the opposite of the normal pop song, no? Anyways, this is the Ace Norton video for the song from Directions.

Track 08: “Crooked Teeth

This was the second single from the album and is definitely one of my favorites of not just this album, but the band’s entire catalog, and highlights the band’s almost genius ability to combine melancholy with a nice sense of rocking about. “You can’t find nothing at all if there was nothing there all along.”

Track 09: “What Sarah Said

Wow, so much to say about this song. This song is possibly my favorite song off the album and by the band as a whole. It’s also the closest thing to a title track on this album and I’ll share with you here what Ben Gibbard said about the album as a whole: “I don’t think there’s necessarily a story, but there’s definitely a theme here. One of my favorite kind of dark jokes is, ‘How do you make God laugh? You make a plan.’ Nobody ever makes a plan that they’re gonna go out and get hit by a car. A plan almost always has a happy ending. Essentially every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time. I really like the idea of a plan not being seen as having definite outcomes, but more like little wishes.”

Track 10: “Brothers On A Hotel Bed

The first line of this song is “You may tire of me as our December sun is setting because I’m not who I used to be.” I always seem to think this is the last song of the album when I listen to it, but it’s not, even though it would be a perfect one. Also, when I listen to this song I can’t help think of the line “If the silence takes you, then I hope it takes me too,” from “Soul Meets Body.” Above is the video for the song from Directions, directed by Josh Victor Rothstein.

Track 11: “Stable Song

Despite my always thinking the previous track is the last song on this album, this is the last song, and it’s a beautiful one. I’ll end this with how drummer Jason McGerr described this album: “If Transatlanticism was an inhale, then Plans is the exhale.” Hope you enjoyed listening with us. Take a deep breath and we’ll catch you next time.