The Goddamn Batman.

from here.

From the internet:

RIP Leslie Nielsen.

RIP Irvin Kershner.

Your 2010 holiday gift shopping sorted.

Here’s something you clearly (don’t) need: pocket chainsaw.

The top 5 most shocking things about WikiLeaks.

Vladimir Putin is Batman and Dmitry Medvedev is Robin.”

Celebrities quitting twitter for charity.

from here.

This Spider-Man musical sounds like just the kind of crazy train wreck that you want it to be.

Here’s what Christopher Nolan thinks of your Inception fan theories.

Natalie Portman, Halle Berry, and Tom Hanks to star in the Wachowskis’ version of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas?

Actor decapitates own mother in Masonic attack inspired by The Matrix.

The bad sex in fiction awards!

Fox Nation reprints anti-Obama article from The Onion, doesn’t mention (or possibly realize) that it’s a joke.

Music by David Lynch.

Previously on Counterforce.

An interview with Jorge Luis Borges.

from here.

This is just weird: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal.

From 1993: The future of the internet!

David Foster, from 1998: “I’m not a journalist and I don’t pretend to be one.”

from here.

Klaxons “Twin Flames.”

The little white lies of online dating revealed.

Is this the year that we make contact? Maybe.

Doctor Doom vs. Doctor Who.

Are we about to be inundated with a wave of movie versions of the works of Haruki Murakami?

Batman and Robin investigate “The Carbon Copy Crimes.”

from here.

D. J. Caruso on why he quit the Y The Last Man movie. Wants to make it a TV show instead, huh? Someone owes me a check. You fuckers.

Suck on this: Animated Southland Tales prequel.

How does Commissioner Gordon really feel about Batman?

Do women avoid talking to their fathers because of evolution?

Edgar Allan Bro.

Hercule Poirot kitties. LOL.

from here.

Shocking link between people who like Batman and people who like pornography.

How to survive a mass extinction.

A Spanish woman claims that she owns the Sun and you can bet your ass she wants you to pay her for its usage.

from here.

The boob tube.

Since there’s been a few posts on TV this past few week, I thought I’d throw out a few quick thoughts on a handful of TV shows. Nothing too in depth, nothing too glamorous, and possibly nothing too well thought out. But, around here, what else is new?

Those shows being…

The Office. The last episode with Timothy Olyphant was not bad, but not particularly great. The previous episode, the much talked about one featuring the return of all of Michael’s exes… not so great. And the few before that, about the same. As even Benjamin Light has mentioned to me the past few times we’ve talked about it, you can really feel the show going through the motions this year. Also, during the summer there was a lot chatter and speculation online about who would replace Steve Carrell when he leaves the show at the end of this season but, honestly, sadly, horribly, heinously, overly dramatically, doesn’t it seem like they’re trying to set up Andy as the new boss-type character?

I can’t think of anything I’d dislike more than that. Andy really feels like a character who should’ve been around a season or two and then maybe have gone bye bye. Also, let’s get serious here: Andy and Ellie Kemper and the dude from Sabre have to make the least attractive love triangle on television.

I hate to say it, but I’ve really checked on out on this show after Pam and Jim’s wedding. Maybe that would’ve been the fine conclusion this show will potentially have to work hard for (and would mirror the end of the original British version interestingly). Also, for a “documentary” about the life of people in an office, when does this “documentary” actually air?

30 Rock. This show is still going strong. Not every episode is a home run, but it is consecutively strong. As long as you have Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon, Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, and Tracy Morgan’s Tracy Jordan, nothing can harm you. What this show does with it’s guest stars is frequently brilliant (Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, even Kelsey Grammar in the most recent episode) and there’s a joy to the dialogue and it’s one liners and non sequiturs that is intoxicating. I thought that the live episode was a good deal smarter than it was funny, but I applaud this show for taking it there. And I found it fascinating that the last episode dealt with Liz Lemon’s long simmering “fear” or general uncomfortableness with sex.

Community. I wasn’t so much a fan of the last episode of this show, and I kind of feel like it maybe tackled people’s biggest two gripes with the show itself: Abed (all things “meta”) and Chevy Chase. And the episode prior to that certainly paled in comparison to what many would consider the show’s strongest outing: the paintball episode from season 1.

All that said, I honestly feel that this show and Modern Family were the best new comedies of last season and I don’t see anything that feels like long term signs of that changing anytime soon.

Things I would change about this show though: 1) Get rid of Chevy Chase, who’s character is not funny and is lazily portrayed. You just get the sense that Chase is bored or perhaps unhappy, and maybe that unhappiness has something to do with watching Joel McHale doing a variation of the Chevy Chase persona from the 80s, just better? I’d watch a Joel McHale iteration of Fletch, sure.

2) Keep characters like Ken Jeong’s Senor Chang to a minimum, and the same with some of Abed’s “We all live in a TV show” stuff. I think some of the references catch with the smart folks in the audience, and some literally watch fire with the simple minded, but as Shirley said recently, I think far too much of it doesn’t play in Poughkeepsie, and bores the rest of us. The only thing worse than being not funny is trying too hard. Keep Abed’s character simple and utilize more gags like the Abed in the background/pregnancy bit in the background a few weeks ago:

from here.

3) More characters. For the background or whatever. Along with 30 Rock, I feel like this is the show that has the best chance of inheriting what there is of the Arrested Development mantle, and yet, the vision of Community almost feels too limited in some regards. Maybe give someone like Star Burns a little break, okay? Also, the character of the dean? We get it. It was funnier when it was called Tobias Fünke.

Running Wilde. Sorry, Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, somehow even you shall not be inheriting the throne that once was Arrested Development, I fear. Kudos to you fine chaps though for bringing Felicity along for the ride.

The Event. I watched four episodes of this show and came to the same realization I had before the show even started and was just a much hyped but vaguely explained situation coming soon on NBC: I could not give two halves of a shit about whatever the fuck “the event” ends up being.

We complain about the meta-ness of Community and it amazes how we don’t talk about how not an event the actual release of The Event is. “Lost meets 24,” huh? Go fuck yourself, NBC. This show could do with a little more Lost and a hell of a lot less 24. Talk about a textbook example of not getting what made both of those shows goddamn brilliant at their heights. This is the briefest I shall ever be on this blog: Character.

from here.

Also… casting. Jason Ritter? Give me a fucking break. Jason Ritter is the guy who should be getting coffee for the stand in for your lead actor.

Lost. This goes without saying: You are missed.

Also: this. Interesting.

Hawaii 5-0. Go fuck yourself if you like this show. I watched two episodes that would’ve had the exact same effect on me if I had seen them either in or out of a coma. Also, Hollywood: Stop trying to make Alex O’Loughlin happen.

Modern Family. As I said before, this is a strong comedy here. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. I don’t think that, once you get what’s going on with it, that it’ll ever blow you away, but it stays consistently funny and watchable and every single character is endearing. And it will hopefully stay that.

Smallville. This show is still on. Did you know that? People are still watching this! It scares me, that thought. (Almost as much as the notion that people were ever watching it.)(I mean, obviously I’m a comic book nerd here, but this show? Come on. Shit is shit, right?) Who are you people? Who are you? It terrifies me that there’s an audience for this show still and they’re providing market research to people in suits who can’t buy a clue from the general public. (Though I still like Erica Durance.)

True Blood. This past season had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, as usual, but the finale was incredibly boring. I guess it was a bit of a serious dramatic let down and also not compelling at all. But, though it may be an uneven supernatural soap opera, it’s amazing how much more it appeals to me than some fucking police procedural on CBS.

Party Down. I miss you. Come back? Please? Was it something I said? Was it the fact that I don’t subscribe to Starz and watched you solely via megavideo and just that once via itunes? Is it Starz? If it is, you don’t have to say anything. Just nod your head and blink. Do that and I will stab a stake through Starz like the life sucking vampire monster that it is.

Parks & Recreation. Is this show still on? Coming back at midseason? That’s a shame, but not shocking, I guess. This show is not bad, not bad at all, but it lacks… something. Sadly, you still have to kind of compare it to The Office in some way. This is a show where you like all the characters/actors involved, but I don’t feel anything for them. They seem like they’re swimming twice as hard for maybe half the results. Except for Ron Swanson. Brilliant televisionary character and I’m so thankful that they keep him to the minimum. I guess I’m glad that this is where Adam Scott landed after Party Down, with a paying gig, but I’d stick this show’s head in a full bath tub until it stopped kicking and squirming if that’d bring back Party Down. No joke.

The Walking Dead. This show hasn’t even aired yet, but I don’t care. I’ve read the comic book so that gives me the right to voice an internet opinion! Ugh.

That said, within the comic is all the things that would make for a good, solid cable TV drama, especially on par with a level of quality and intrigue that AMC seems to be trying to covet (the snoozefest that is Rubicon aside), but I hope that the producers of the show don’t stick too strictly to the comic. It’s not… great. There, I said it. It’s not that great. It’s good, but it’s true to it’s story and incredibly bleak. It picks up where your average zombie movie ends, with characters having to survive in this world that’s swarming with the undead and it’s something for fans of suffering, for sure. The TV show hasn’t wowed me with the actors they’ve cast, and that sizzle reel didn’t get me hard, and it doesn’t help that Frank Darabont hasn’t brought his A game to anything in a long, long while (though he’s thankfully finally gotten out from behind Stephen King’s skirt). But, despite all of that, I’d like to be pleasantly surprised.

Glee. I saw the pilot not this last summer but the summer before when they showed it months and months before the show’s actual premiere and I thought, “Eh.” Never saw a single episode throughout the rest of the first season because it was just not the show for me and somehow it become this popular media juggernaut. Then I saw two episodes just a few weeks ago from this current season. Not bad. Not all that interesting, but intriguing from a distance. But I do believe there’s credence to the “Three Glee” theory.

But, I have to say that this GQ controversy is ludicrous. Who are you people who are upset about this nonsense? Apparently you’ve never see this show or it’s content or just ignored the Rolling Stone cover from a few months ago altogether. Way to go, Dianna Agron, you are mystifying both onscreen and off. Some people should find bigger things to get super excited and bothered about. Like Taylor Momsen. Speaking of which…

Gossip Girl. Is this still on TV?

House. House is a show that, like Glee, is quality but that I wouldn’t normally watch because, well, I’m just not going to watch a weekly medical procedural show. Or, that’s why it was that I used to not watch House. But then I started watching it semi-weekly (Thank God Hulu is still free), because it’s well written and I saw a bunch of episodes last season by accident and because House and Cuddy are dating now and, well, just because. Also, I like Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Speaking of which…

Steven Moffat’s (and Mark Gatiss’) Sherlock. The show debuted in England in the past year and is fucking brilliant. This is what I would like all TV to aspire to as far as intellectual quality. Eventually this will come to BBC America and you’re a goddamn fool to miss it. The man with the unfortunate name of Benedict Cumberbatch is shocking and mesmerizing as a modern day take on the classic detective and Martin Freeman (“Tim,” the original Jim in the original British version of The Office) is in fine form as his sidekick, John Watson. The little nods to the classic stories are enjoyable and where the show deviates is even better. My only real quibble with the 21st century updates is that rather than just chronicling their exploits in a conventional manner, Watson now blogs about the cases he and Sherlock engage in. Sigh.

The first season was three episodes long and the pilot is amazing (written by Moffat), the second episode is fine, but the third episode (written by Gattis) is immaculate. And what a fucking a cliffhanger.

Freeman was recently cast as The Hobbit after months of everyone knowing he pretty much had the role locked down, but you may have noticed the internet screaming out that the two movies better not stop production on a second series of Sherlock and quite right so.

Speaking of British originals translating stateside: MTV’s Skins, which you can see a trailer for now. And if you click here, you can read my thoughts on that.

Doctor Who. This Christmas special and new season (next Easter, sadly) can’t come quickly enough. I don’t know how I feel about this “split” season. I guess it’s fine, though I’m not crazy about them calling it two different seasons, rather than just one split with a hiatus. It sounds like a fancy way of getting out of contracts quicker, frankly. They recently cast Mark Shephard in a big role, sigh, presumably the two part season opener set in America and featuring Richard Nixon? Cool. I guess. Except for the Mark Shephard bit. That gravely voiced motherfucker hasn’t been in enough big name sci fi shows? Sigh. But, like last season, paparazzi photos have informed us that River Song will be in that episode(s). Great.

Now the theorizing can really begin as to who or what River Song actually is. A future version of the Doctor? Lame. The Doctor’s mother? Lamer. Amy Pond in the future in some form? Lame and tired as far as guesswork goes. Just the Doctor’s amazing wife/partner from a future point as we’ve already been lead to believe? Perfect. But let’s get crazy here: A future version of the Master or the Rani? Hmmm?

Mad Men. Nothing to add here.

Still an amazing show and I’m kind of dying to know where they’ll go next season.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. For what it is, this show is perfect. Especially once Danny Devito joined the cast a few years ago. I’m so glad that we have a mindset like this available to us. And, if you think about it, since we mentioned the inheritance of legacies earlier in this post, this is today’s version of Seinfeld.

Fringe. Man… Whatever. Benjamin Light and I add a long conversation about this show about a week ago because we’re fucking dorks, I guess. Maybe, if you’re nice to him, he’ll do a write up about his thoughts on that show and we’ll have a nice discussion on what we dislike about that show and what we would change (almost everything). And, if anything comes to us, maybe we’ll talk about what we like about the show?

The Venture Bros. As always, a strong, smart, funny show, but I’m trying not to use the words “treading water” here. I keep wanting this show to move forward into telling a larger story, and just when I think it’s going to reveal itself to be doing that… it pulls back altogether. At first it was like, “Ha ha, we are playing with your expectations,” but now it’s just like they’re treading water. Damn. I said it. It’s funny that the last episode was all about Doctor Venture’s brain being hacked and the Monarch trying to force him to commit suicide since I feel like that’s the only logical conclusion to the show.

South Park. I haven’t seen an actual episode of this show in fucking forever. I miss it. Conrad Noir tells me that I really need to see not this past week’s, but the one before, the one pertaining to Jersey Shore. “The Jersey problem,” is how he referred to it. I haven’t seen this last one, the Inception one, either. But now I see that Matt and Trey are in some shit for plagarizing a College Humor video. Jesus. I’m sorry, no, it’s “borrowing.” I get the gist of Matt and Trey’s “take” on Inception, which is a good example of how I can like this show and still pretty much never agree with their take on anything. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Inception is cool because it’s complex, are they? Also, how complex was Inception? Was it really that hard for anyone to follow? I mean… Really?

Louis. I like Louis C.K. I like him a lot. I haven’t loved this show, not like I’ve wanted to, though the Ricky Gervais cameo was a lot of fun. But I’m just glad that Louis C.K. has a show on TV that I don’t think has been canceled  yet. I can’t wait to watch it progress. And I think that is the underlining factor that too many showrunners on television don’t take into account: Shows should progress. There’s a long game at work. Consider your package as a whole.

Eastbound & Down. I’ve only seen the first episode of this current season so far, so I can’t say much, but this show defies your average reviewing format. You’re either in or out. Anything else and maybe you should just fuck off. Me: thumbs up.

Bored To Death. Talk about your meta end to a blog post… I’ve only seen about five episodes from the first season of this show. They were meh, honestly. I see the promise of the show picking up and getting interesting, but I’ll get there at some point. But, during some of those first few episodes, I just felt like maybe I wanted to go read an old detective novel and drink some wine instead.

In conclusion: Am I missing any worthwhile shows or any shows that are the exact opposite? If so then by all means, please, please, please let me know.

And: Before we go, if you click here you can read an interesting post about David Foster Wallace and the connection between fiction and television.

All stories great and small.

From Roberto Bolaño, the late author of books such as 2666 and The Savage Detectives, comes advice on writing short stories…

and

from here and here.

And:

12 secrets to becoming a prolific short story writer.

11 times of bad writing advice.

Your favorite writers give you 10 rules for writing fiction, part one.

And part two.

Lorrie Moore’s “How To Become A Writer.” The short version: First, try to be anything else.

Books that only exist in other books.

And here at Counterforce: What we blog about when we blog about love.

Now… get writing!

Raids on human consciousness.

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

-Don Delillo

And, yeah, I mentioned it last week, but I have to say again how excited I am about a new Don Delillo coming out this year – next month, in fact – entitled Point Omega. It’s a short novel, but one that sounds classically Delillo, and here’s a plot description for you:

In the middle of a desert “somewhere south of nowhere,” to a forlorn house made of metal and clapboard, a secret war advisor has gone in search of space and time. Richard Elster, seventy-three, was a scholar – an outsider – when he was called to a meeting with government war planners. They asked Elster to conceptualize their efforts – to form an intellectual framework for their troop deployments, counterinsurgency, orders for rendition. For two years he read their classified documents and attended secret meetings. He was to map the reality these men were trying to create “Bulk and swagger,” he called it. At the end of his service, Elster retreats to the desert, where he is joined by a filmmaker intent on documenting his experience. Jim Finley wants to make a one-take film, Elster its single character – “Just a man against a wall.” The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Finley makes the case for his film. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits – an “otherworldly” woman from New York – who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and connection, is thrown into question. What is left is loss, fierce and incomprehensible.

It’s kind of funny now how relevant Delillo has stayed over the years, but how he’s become more relevant as events began to mirror things he’s been talking about for decades. He’s essentially been writing 9/11 novels for thirty years and talking about the race between terrorists and novelists and those who try to make sense of things, either by persuasion or by force. He’s been trying to blend in a post-apocalyptic world into the one we already live and exist in, and it would appear to be a frighteningly easy and seamless fit at times.

And like Pynchon, he’s certainly been mapping the increasing ubiquitous paranoia that has become part of our American DNA. “It was as though Hemingway died one day and Pynchon was born the next,” he’s said about the contributions of both men to the changing nature of fiction, “from pure realism to something more cosmic.”

from here.

And I think it’s fascinating that he used to work in advertising when he was younger, back when it was primarily print work and hadn’t quite jumped into the medium of television yet. The difference between the advertising industry and writing fiction? At least one is honest about what it’s doing and selling you. Most, including his friends, assumed he left the business to begin writing, but he says: “Actually, I quit my job so I could go to the movies on weekday afternoons.”

Delillo has been called, along with Cynthia Ozick, one of the English languages’ two greatest writers by David Foster Wallace, and that’s fitting here since DFW’s great big 12 years in the making novel, The Pale King, is finally coming out (although not til next year, sadly) in it’s unfinished but edited form. The book deals with a group of IRS workers and the monotony and “intense tediousness” they encounter in their jobs, and also employs a little of the good old classic meta post-modern.

Here is an interesting look at DFW’s career, his final years, and his work on The Pale King.

And four excerpts from the novel have already been published in US magazines:

Good People,” “Wiggle Room,” and “All That” in The New Yorker, and “The Compliance Branch” in Harper’s.

And again, the new Delillo short story, “Midnight In Dostoevsky,” unrelated to the new novel.

And “Still Life,” an excerpt from his previous novel, Falling Man.

Who knows, “The Year We Make Contact” could very well become the year of many happy returns. Hell, one writer is even making contact with us again from beyond the grave. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How’s your writing going?

The City On The Edge Of Forever.

Phoenix is the sweatiest city in America.

Stranger In Moscow.”

Sydney and the light rail.

Augmented reality in London.

The ghost in the field, and RFID chips.

What will happen when London is flooded?

Berlin” in Paris.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana.

Soft robots and DARPA.

Moscow’s mayor promises a winter without snow.

Paris Syndrome and Jerusalem Syndrome.

San Francisco and the 1906 earthquake.

Rebuilding New Orleans.

from here.

City Of Blinding Lights.”

A possible glimpse at our future space cities.

America’s most expensive cities and most impoverished cities.

FOX promises to air all 13 of the already ordered Dollhouse season two episodes.

Speaking of which, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods being held back a year to be switched over to 3D.

Magnetricity” observed for the first time.

A map of your future mega-cities and megaopolises.

“When the lights go down in the city…”

Sensing the immaterial-material city.

Cities underground and cities tsunami-resistant.

City Of Shadows.

The ruins of Chernobyl, over 20 years later.

Cities In Dust.”

GTA IV: Inherent Vice City.

Silver City” and “Sad, Sad City.”

Why all cities are haunted.

The mind of a city (and how our brains are similar).

The cityscapes of François Schuiten.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.

The city is a battlesuit for surviving the future.

Phantom City: See the city that could’ve been.

“…when we reach the city.”

“I have come to wound the autumnal city.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“I’ll take the coral reefs as my metaphor. Though hardly so beautiful. If the essence of life is information carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory systems and a metropolis like this one, simply a sprawling external memory….”

-a quote from Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, a movie that I was watching the other day and just first stirred the pot on several thoughts I had locked up. Thoughts about human beings and boxes we live in.

Warren Ellis had created a comic book character years ago called Jack Hawksmoor, the “king of cities.” Jack was a normal human who had been abducted by city-empathic aliens from the future and repeatedly operated on and “upgraded” to have city-specific powers for use with fighting some unknown future threat that was coming.

Jack Hawksmoor, the King Of Cities.

Hawksmoor, who’s name was inspired by both Spring Heeled Jack and Nicholas Hawksmoor, couldn’t survive for very long outside of an urban environment, but when he was in any city, he had powers specific to that city, including things like superhuman strength and agility, but also psychometry and the ability to control and alter architecture and infrastructure. I don’t think the character was ever utlized by successive writers to his full potential, but I do remember in one story where Hawksmoor had to fight a powerful villain, he made sure that the fight took place in Mexico City, the larged city in the world, to maximize his abilities.

Quarantined in utopia.

“There’s no one to know. There’s nothing to do. The city’s been down since you’ve been gone.”

Climate change and warfare.

Black And White Town.”

Scientists create “sexual tsunami.”

12 sexist vintage ads.

What’s left of the Roman city of Dougga.

Futurism vs. Science Fiction.

Futuristic steampunk urban recycling.

The little town that Los Angeles killed.

Speaking of which: Future Los Angeles.

Future Chicago.

Future New York.

The saddest blow job story ever.

History Of A Boring Town.”

Russell Brand not capable of monogamy.

10 most amazing ghost towns, including Prypiat.

Everything In It’s Right Place.”

Scientists develop “brain to brain communication.”

As time progresses, the future will literally devour the past: WW2-era statue with added cell tower.

Last Stop: This Town.”

I sing the blog electric!

I typically get Harper’s magazine at work, but a week or two ago I was at the book store with some time to kill. There and elsewhere. So I figured, Oh, what the hell, and I bought the latest issue. Not such a hard decision, but definitely made easier when I saw that the piece of fiction in that particular issue was a new one by Jonathan Lethem. He has a new novel coming out, entitled Chronic City, so I assumed it would be a selection from that. Well, having read the story, called “The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear,” I doubt it. But it’s interesting, nonetheless. Very interesting.

from here.

The first paragraph:

“I do not think I shall visit my blog anymore. It is not so much the smell that discourages me—gulls have skeletonized the corpse in the entranceway, and the lapping tide has salt-rinsed the floorboards where the intruder’s blood was once caked as thick as fruit-leather—as it is a certain malodor of memory persisting there. The stink of my disappointment being that stink which the sea’s salt can never rinse.”

If I’ve learned anything from this story, it’s that your blog is your fortress, and you are a warrior. Protect your kingdom. And remember: You are not a mariner. Your blog is perhaps not a boat, but regardless, the tide is coming in…

Another line: “I offer this, my blog, to the world, but I do not require the world to need it or accept it, for it is my very own blog.”

from here.