picture from here.
Just out of curiosity: Is the shortened final season of 30 Rock coming back in the fall, or as a mid-season thing again?
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.
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.
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.
* * *
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?
“Son of a bitch!” vs.
“Son of a bitch!” vs.
That’s Alison Brie’s Annie Edison’s gasps from Community vs. “Son of a bitch!” from movies vs. Sawyer’s “Son of a bitch!” from Lost vs. Don Draper saying “What?” It seems like the only bit missing from the film one is Tuco’s last line from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.
And don’t forget the greatest K-Stew supercut of all time.
And now: 88 to go…
If you’re reading this, then I have sad/happy news for you. And perhaps not the most surprising of news…
This is post #900 on ye olde Counterforce. We haven’t been as prolific as we used to be, and we haven’t been as loud and verbal, and maybe we haven’t been as excited as we should. We’ve enjoyed a moment together and we’re going to enjoy many, many more as well, but I don’t think this next part will shock you: Counterforce is going to end with post #1000.
Why end it there? Why not just end it here, or tomorrow, or four months ago? Because it’s going to end with #1000, that’s fucking why. Because the time is now and because I think this particular iteration of what you know as Counterforce is ending – if I can be as heavy handed as possible – and it has to end before the next aeon can be born. But it needs to go in its own way, in its own style, and with a little celebration. And a little dark forecasting of what lays beyond.
We’re not planning to bury it. At least, that’s not my intention. It’s coming to the end and I hope to leave its exquisite corpse just laying around for people to enjoy. But this isn’t a funeral. This is going to be a fucking dance party with eulogies and crazy LOLcat GIFs. There’s plenty more YouTube embeds and shit talking and Jackface pictures and theorizing about the fate of Don Draper to come before we sign off at this particular URL. We’re still going to talk about the things we like and love and hate and detest while also being super mega self-referential and taking this thing so far down the rabbit hole and up our own asses that the sunrise/set will seem like a perpetual strobe effect.
In short, we’re going out with banging and whimpering, and hopefully both in rhythmic and wonderful succession.
I remember that when the 80s ended, as U2 had their final concert of the decade, they went out on this intensely ominous note, telling their audience that they had to go away for a while and dream it all up again. Most people walked out of that decade thinking their favorite band was over, gone forever, but that wasn’t the case.
Again, that’s a bit heavy handed, but I’m this close to embedding Semisonic videos and telling you that every new beginning starts from some other beginning’s end. Perhaps instead I’ll just tell you that you don’t have to go home, but you just can’t stay here.
Not forever, anyway.
Anyway. Count your fucking blessings. You were lucky enough to know us and enjoy this time and this place and moment. We were lucky enough to know you and fap fap fap fap fap about things we liked or thought were important. And we’re doing to keep doing that here for another 100 posts, and we’ll keep doing it elsewhere. There is, for example, the podcast to brighten and enrich your days now. That’ll be an ever evolving thing. Put it in your ears and your mind. And keep your eyes coming back here for the next 100 posts. The final 100 posts.
I hope everyone will come back. Everyone who has ever done anything with this site, or wanted to, and everyone who has ever read it. I want to bathe in all the old jokes and callbacks and motifs and references and the things we loved. I want the old shit to make friends with the new shit and then take the new shit behind the middle school and get it pregnant. And, with any luck, Counterforce will end this year. It’s kind of exciting to think that our last dance would take us right up to the stroke of midnight at the end of the world, right?
It especially fascinated me because it was a Pete-centric episode, especially since Pete was always my least favorite character. For the first season, he was the show’s villain du jour around the office, and his whole personality was always designed for you to love how much you hate him. Plus, I despised the actor by association of his character on Angel. And yet Pete is one of the realest depictions of what it’s like to work in an office like Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and try to stand beside the towering monolith of all things awesome which is Don Draper and try to survive with the comparison.
I think once upon a time Peggy was also that character for us, young and hungry, trying to learn from Don and become like him, to become something in the advertising industry in the 60s, to be admired by peers and to leave the office each day with some self worth, but I think that’s beyond Peggy now. Or, rather, Peggy is beyond that. I think the show’s done a pretty good job now at showing that whatever Peggy’s destiny is, it’s not to become the next Don Draper. It’s to become something different, something new in the changing world that Mad Men teeters on the brink of.
And then there’s Pete. And Lane. Two guys who will always be fish out of water, who work hard, but can’t shake the fact that they feel they’re owed some other kind of respect. There’s struggles and there’s loneliness and there’s a lot of stabs in the dark at connections with people that ultimately fail. And then there’s the loneliness again, and the passage of time and the moments that always slip away. This show is so good at showing at time is always moving, always getting away from you.
There’s an expression that I always used to hear as a kid (far too much, in fact) that went like this: “God always answers your prayers, but He does so in the order in which they’re received.” Once upon a time, Don Draper’s confident, self-assured life looked perfect to Pete. The wife, the kids, the suburbs. Pete went out and got that for himself, without taking the time to appreciate it, and now it feels even lonelier. Don’s happy little life slipped away from him and he found himself another one.
And again all Pete can do is look over there, angry and envious, feeling as if he has nothing, and therefore is nothing.
He’s a guy from a family that once had privilege, but they gave it all away. Probably because they figured that they were sitting on an endless supply of it. Sadly, Pete inherited a lot of that thinking. And now he’s either out there, acting without thinking, trying to claim what he feels should have always been his, or he’s left alone, so alone, sitting on top of a mountain of thoughts about how everything should be is and yet, somehow, is not.
There’s something just amazing about this past episode to me. The rhythmic moving of the teenage girl’s sandaled feet, keeping in time with the dripping of the kitchen faucet that haunts Pete, keeping in time with the ticking of the clock. There’s a man on a clocktower picking off pregnant women with a rifle, and Pete’s life is mired with echoes and ghosts, all visible but intangible, all tasting of ash.
And his former enemy, Ken Cosgrove, having himself surrendered in their rivalry, and somehow still doing better and happier with a successful career as a sci fi writer and married to TV’s Alex Mack. Kenny Cosgrove turns his dinners into drinks and he still finds time to write about robots who repair bridges, and meanwhile neither Lane nor Pete can maintain the ones they hope to link them to their fellow men. How can Pete learn to drive if everywhere he’d drive to is the same old shit that he brings himself wherever he goes? How much more irony and neat little metaphors can be packed in here?
I could go on and on, but bottom line: It was good. The episode had a sort of mesmerizing quality about it. The noble sadness of the normal guy, who is doomed to never appreciate what he has and something, something, something about a dog with two bones. Nice direction by John Slattery and an excellent script co-written by the writer of Dog Day Afternoon and Cool Hand Luke, I chuckled when I heard “Ode To Joy” playing.
Just like this season of Game Of Thrones continues it’s not too subtle quest to define power and where it comes from, the characters of Mad Men are just struggling to keep a little of it for themselves. Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. They keep foreshadowing the death of Don Draper, which, in Mad Men language, I presume, will mean that someone close to Don will die this season rather than Don himself. No one wants to see Don Draper dead but we’d all like to see Don Draper deal with a loss so close to home, or so work, or to wherever his interior self lies.
So much of Game Of Thrones‘ story lays in its past, but the TV show nor the books (I’m only like 200 or so pages into the third book so careful on the spoilers, please) want to go back there. Mad Men will do flashbacks, sparingly, but it’s just to show you how much can change in so little time. The point of both shows is the same: This train is not stopping. It only goes faster. And we’re heading into the future.
One minute your dad is the Hand of the King and the next minute he’s getting his head chopped off and the sons of bitches all have crossbows pointed at you.
One minute every thing is fine and dandy at the whorehouse a few blocks from here and then the next a life, a marriage, and the hopes at landing that contracted are ruined by some bubblegum found on the pubis and we can only settle this one way…
About fucking time, right? Bring on the cure for the common television show.
All I know about tomorrow’s episode is that it’s two hours long and supposedly called “A Little Kiss.” Other than that, I’ve maintained a blissful sense of being unaware… What will year will the show be in when it returns? Will Don have finally married his secretary, or even still be married to her? What will be up with Peggy, and Pete, and the rest of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? Will Joan’s husband have been killed in Vietnam yet? And, sigh, what will be the state of Betty Draper?
I don’t have the answers to any of those questions, not yet anyway. And I guess you could say that I’m ready to be hit over the head here.
Until then though, this is talking about some previous Mad Men episodes and other Mad Men Mania:
The timeless wisdom of Marshall McLuhan.
The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife and the art fetish of Burt Cooper.
…and many, many more.