Past Prologue: September, 2009.

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…

Right, so:

01.

09/01/09: The House Of Mice/Ideas,” by yours truly: This was back when it was announced that Disney had bought Marvel comics. Such a weird idea at the time, the idea of a mash up between your favorite comic book characters and your favorite Disney characters, or the concern that a certain “family friendly” and “neutered” aesthetic might bleed over into the monthly tales of your friendly neighborhood super powered costume fetishists.

Also, a chance to share links! I like sharing links. I like sharing a little bit of what I’m reading with anyone who might give an inkling of a shit.

from here.

The thing about the links posts is that I don’t claim to always endorse those links, their content, or their authors. I’m not saying, “I read this and I loved it and now you must read it and fall in love with it!” Hardly. Half the time when I would post these “mad linkage” posts, I had not read some of these stories I’ve linked to… yet. They were place holders, something easy for me to get back to and read later. Counterforce is and was my portal to the internet, just as I had hoped it would be for you as well.

02.

09/01/09: Apocalypse Please by Benjamin Light: I like this post. Usually Benjie trucks primarily in words, and yet I think he sets up a nice mood with a preamble of pictures of doom and destruction. As he’ll eventually say in the text bits, there’s a collective mood there, a seductive one of embracing the end (though not necessarily being consumed by it), that I think is somewhat universal.

03.

09/02/09: Humans Being by yours truly and “Lollipop Gomez,” otherwise known as the immensely talented Maria Diaz: This is us getting down and dirty and talking about the sexualized fascination and symbiotic relationship between man and machine, or whoa!-man and machine. In other news, (hu)mankind doesn’t want to just rise up and meet the approaching Singularity, we want to have sex with it. That’s either how we understand things, or how we go about not having to understand things.

from here.

In case you’re wondering, this is pretty much what it was like whenever Maria and I would talk. Pretty much every one of our continuing gmail/gchat conversations would be like this, and some nights we were just “on” more than others. I think about halfway through some of those conversations we realized that we were going to save this conversation and post it online somewhere. So perhaps during the second half we’re performing a little more. Posts with Maria were always some of my favorite because they were less about writing, and more about just being, and us bullshitting and having fun, which lead to some of the writing I most enjoyed reading.

04.

09/03/09: Between The Covers by Occam Razor, Maria Diaz, and Conrad Noir: We never did a lot of big group posts like other blogs and websites, but I think this was an interesting one, especially since it’s such a funny idea, the writers of Counterforce talking about summer reading selections. Perhaps because we’re so outside the norm of what other people on the internet would talk about for their summer reading, perhaps that’s why I like it so much.

by Andy Vible, from here.

Plus, it’s always nice to see anything from Occam Razor and Conrad Noir. Those guys are awesome. Looking back, the original title for this post should’ve been “The Pimp Game, Globalization, and Revolting Youth.” I don’t know. Something like that.

05.

09/04/09: F Is For Friday,” by me: Orson Welles’ F For Fake is a great movie. Half documentary, half essay, and an extra one half magic trick. What else needs to be said?

06.

09/05/09: Super Secret Smile Saturdays by myself: Labor Day weekend, links, and a lot of videos. This is kinda sorta what my average internet browsing probably looks like when I’m pretty substantially bored.

by Lily Camille Clark, from here and here.

07.

09/06/09: 1960s Dance Party by Conrad Noir: This is before I got Conrad hooked on Mad Men. I think this GIF perfectly represented what he saw whenever he saw people gushing about the show online.

08.

09/07/09: Why, yes, you should receive a Victory Medal for beating the clap,” by myself: So weird to read this now. Not just because it’s old, but because it’s from a different time in Mad Men. The new status quo on Mad Men is so ingrained in me now, I guess, that it’s weird to time travel further back into the 60s and see Don and Betty still married, dealing with the trials and tribulations of their lives together, etc.

Also, I always enjoyed doing the Mad Men posts with August Bravo. It certainly kept me more on focus, I think, and made me ramble less, maybe. He would’ve been involved with this one, but he didn’t heed certain advice, moved to Manhattan, and got raped by some sailors, or something.

09.

09/08/09: The Kids Of America by myself: The Republicans were being dicks to Obama, trying to deny him even the most rudimentary respect deserved by his being our elected President of these United States. Funny how few things change. Stay classy, Republicans. Keep celebrating the fundamental lack of education within your party.

10.

09/09/09: 09/09/09 by myself: It doesn’t take much to amuse me, I tell ya.

11.

09/10/09: In my younger and more vulnerable years…” by myself: The Great Gatsby really is a great book, and truly one of the Great American Novels. I used to despise it because it was too simple, too easy, such a perfect textbook for a high school class, but now I suspect that’s part of its charm. I used to think the movie starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow was incredibly boring, but now I’m dreading the new one with DiCaprio and Sally Sparrow and the Peter Parker I’m hoping we can all forget about. At least it’ll be in 3D, as if that mattered.

12.

09/11/09: The Food chain by Benjamin Light: LOL.

13.

09/11/09: NEVAR FORGET by yours truly: Well…

14.

09/13/09: Bloodletting by myself: Just a nice reminder, I think, of how good the first two seasons of True Blood were. That’s not to say that the subsequent seasons have been terrible, because they haven’t, but the first two seasons were just excellent, I thought. Just a perfect balance between the human and the supernatural, between comedy and horror, between mystery and romance, between the darkness and the light.

15.

09/14/09: RIP Patrick Swayze by myself: Seriously. RIP Patrick Swayze. I’m going to go watch Road House again.

16.

09/14/09: Are you aware of the number of handjobs I’m gonna have to give by August Bravo and myself: Once someone says “hand jobs,” then BOOM, there’s August Bravo, suddenly out of nowhere.

Looking back, this was a very interesting episode of Mad Men, the biggest aspect being the birth of baby Gene Draper, but there was so much more going on there. Both in the episode and in our writing about it, talking about Kanye, for example, and for me finally realizing how truly amazing Alison Brie was.

17.

09/15/09: The Development Of Strange Things by myself: I like Harper’s magazine. I like it a lot. But I especially like the “Findings” section at the end, as you may have noticed here on Counterforce time and again.

* * *

Months are longer than we think, especially since we posted something every single day of September, 2009 except for one, so let’s take a break here and resume this after a…

TO BE CONTINUED!

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Huntress.

Is Snow White And The Huntsman out on DVD yet?

I don’t really want to buy or rent the DVD or anything, and part of me doesn’t really want to watch the movie again, because it was terrible. But it was also fascinating.

This has been said before by me, and I’ll say it again here… I love the ending of the movie, the very ending: The Evil Sexy Witch Queen is dead, the troubles have ceased, and now K-Stew is being crowned Queen by the poor people of the fantasy kingdom she inhabts. As she stands there, newly royal, and praised by all her subjects, she takes a look at her primary suitors, the other ends of the love triangle she’s been shackled to the whole movie. There’s the Prince, who could not be sadder, lamer, or fall more short. And then there’s the titular Huntsman, who just looks dirty and wishing he had better dialogue and a more compelling reason to push on. Kristen Stewart’s eyes move from one of these guys, then to the other. A choice must be made. And then she looks away, and sighs. Perhaps she touches her hair. The music rises, the film ends. Presented with these choices, she has freed herself from choice. Maybe she chooses herself. Maybe she chooses just to touch her hair…

I don’t know, but it’s such an inept moment in classic cinematic storytelling, but I love it.

* * *

I believe it was Godard that said that every film was a documentary about its actors, and for the leading women in Snow White And The Huntsman, I think that’s accurate. For a bad movie, it’s a great example of why we love Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron. These are actors who refuse to be confined to the typical traps of pretty girls in the movies with swords and monsters and creepy dudes with pageboy haircuts.

Charlize is more seasoned in all of this though. I don’t think people nearly appreciate enough off how effortlessly sexy and gorgeously venomous she can be. This is beyond her incredible physical beauty, which you could say has always been a hurdle she’s had to jump over. I find her compelling and in dire need of more worthy vehicles.

And K-Stew, ah, K-Stew… Sadly, this blog will wrap up (probably) sometime later this year after a 1000 volumes, and I suspect that I would need a whole other thousand volumes to even begin to approach the majesty of K-Stew. For starters, I’ll just say that she looks even more bored when she’s trying to be typically movie sexy, and that makes me love her even more.

I know that Godard also said: “Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.” I think about that a lot, or try to, whenever I open my mouth about something I saw in a movie and try to describe what it made me think and feel.

* * *

Read some article on either Gawker or Jezebel, somewhere cheap, fast, and sensationalistic, and they said that in the film’s commentary the director heaps nothing but outrageous praise on Kristen Stewart, and ohhhh, isn’t that so extra scandalous now after what we know? Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Just as quickly as she was announced to be the current top paid female actor in the world, going On The Road and giving two guys hand jobs at the same time in a movie for the sake of art, and now the masses and the headlines and the crying goblins on YouTube are determined to erase from the picture.

Speaking of which, excuse me while I go do a painting of K-Stew being crucified. Clothed or not clothed, it doesn’t matter, but she’ll look as bored as humanly possible up there on the cross.

Just imagine how awkward and wonderful the press junket for Breaking Dawn, Part 17 is going to be.

Poor K-Stew. As I said, we still love you. And we know as well as anyone else: Wild hearts can’t be tamed.

* * *

I was just reminded in something I was reading online that Milan Kundera has a book called Life Is Elesewhere, and it’s another European novel about a man who devotes his life to poetry, you know, as a man is wont to do. When a man has time to do so, of course.

But that phrase will be stuck in my head today. “Life is elsewhere.” Cinema is everywhere? I want to take the words there and play around with them endlessly, swapping and switching. This is how I cope with the unbearable lightness, or the enduring heaviness, I guess.

Snow White And The Huntsman was an ehhhh movie, at best. I guess it was the winner in the Summer Of Two Snow White movies. Charlize Theron vs. Julia Roberts? Come on, that wasn’t even a contest. Anyway. K-Stew was never meant to come back for a sequel to the Huntsman movie, but now people would like to report headlines that she’s been “fired” from the sequel. We ought to be more surprised that there is a sequel.

* * *

How did this come about, you ask? Or perhaps you don’t.

from here.

We recorded our latest podcast last night, and posted it last night. The mirror in the bathroom at my job as a little crack, starting at the top, right in the middle, and it’s slowly working it’s way down the center, breaking in two under the stress of… what? Apple’s doing a thing today (which you may have heard about). I saw a picture of K-Stew somewhere on the internet just a moment ago, and that article about the director’s commentary for the movie on Gawker or Jezebel or somewhere similar a few days ago. Cabin In The Woods is one of the movies on my phone. I just discovered the other day that there’s an old copy of The Unbearable Lightness Of Being on a shelf in my home. I remember buying it one day in a book store, thinking that I would get around to reading it eventually. The spine of the book has seen some adventures, and it looks like it’s been read, but not by me.

Some how all of this combined in my head just now to this, this thing that you’re reading.

Snow White And The Huntsman is not a great movie. I’m thinking about it, and talking about it, but it’s not a movie I’m going to go actively seek out to rewatch. It has some interesting visuals for the eyes, but no real meat for the brain. But it’s a treat for the comment. That’s not to say that there’s a rich subtext there, but something else, something more open for you to step into and fill with your own perceptions and ideas. Something something something about the eye of the beholder.

Cinema is everywhere. Life is elsewhere. You’re either now here or you’re soon to be nowhere.

“Are you aware of the number of handjobs Im gonna have to give?”

The week works through it’s cycle and here we are again, the fog clearing in the aftermath of another great episode of Mad Men, this one being last night’s “The Fog.” And it’s time for us to think upon it, is it not, August?

August Bravo: What time is it? What time isn’t it? And, yes, after being sodomized during my move to Manhattan last week, I am back. Sorry about the absence. Let’ just dive right in.

Marco Sparks: Last night’s episode, and I feel like I could be saying this every week during season 3 of the show, but last night’s episode was probably my favorite so far.

August: Oh yeah, definitely. Last night’s was such a great episode. So good from the get go.

Marco: Do you think Don’s going to go the easy route and hook up with Sally’s maypole-dancing teacher, the anti-Bobbi Barrett, who feels her job a little too much? And equally importantly, are we, the fans, almost hungering for that?

August: No, But I definitely think he’ll get a chance to this year.

Marco: Fuck yeah, he will. Evening phone calls with a drink in hand, hugging the corner of the room, and that seductive bra strap hanging off her shoulder? Lesser men would puddle at that sight.

August: Yes. But do you think that maybe Dennis the prison guard’s little speech may have sunk in with Don to a certain degree? I’d like to think so. I think it’s what everyone wants. That would be awesome.

Marco: Nah, not me. I’m anti-hugging, learning, crying, or understanding. I’m against redemption in pretty much all forms. Redemption gets passed to me at a party and someone’s all like, “Yo, you want a hit o’ this?” That someone could be Peggy’s drug dealer from two weeks ago, mind you, but even still, I’m like, “No, thanks.”

August: Also, I loved seeing the little bit part/cameo by the woman who voices Lisa Simpson.

Marco: Yeah, really. Seeing Yeardley Smith totally stunned me right out of that scene for a moment, you know?

August: I thought it was really funny. Also, I love Don’s constant annoyance with Pryce. Walking into that meeting and then walking out only seconds later after realizing it’s extremely pointless (to him), that was one of my favorite Don moments this season. After all, why should he have to worry about money?

Marco: I think Don does worry about money, just not the company’s, you know? I feel like that’s a big part of his conversation with Peggy towards the end. Peggy, voicing the feelings of everyone, sees Don and thinks he has it all together and has everything. And he does. He’s Don Draper, after all. But I think at every single moment, Don’s afraid of losing it. His “greatest fears lay in anticipation,” after all.

But speaking of that money, and I have to love the way Jared Harris makes the alliteration of “pencils, pads, paper, and postage” sing. Also, Sal’s expense account was higher than Don’s, right? Did he have to pay for that half a hand job?

August: Good question. And one better suited to an accountant. I enjoy finding out more and more about Don’s previous life in each episode…

Marco: …and the way little bits of his previous self filter into his current persona?

August: Yeah. There’s nothing particularly revealing about that in that first scene in Sally’s teacher’s classroom, but everything about that scene, as they’re there to deal with Sally’s misbehavior in the wake of Grandpa Gene’s passing, was just perfect. And awkward. And perfectly awkward. And was only made better by the teacher then calling Don that night, and seemingly after some drinking. Why would she do that? Again, I’m sure there’s a hidden agend at work, even if none of the characters are aware of it yet. Maybe you’re right and her and Don will sleep together.

Marco: Or, at least have… a confrontation of some sorts. And if the game is seduction, maybe it won’t be Don Draper who seduces her, maybe it’ll be Dick Whitman?

I just love the tease the writers give us as super pregnant Betty comes down the stairs, seemingly out of nowhere to ruin Don’s budding conversation with Sally’s teacher, and announces that it’s time. And then asks who was on the phone. “No one.”

August: The waiting room scenes, like we said, were pretty interesting. Don’s chat with Dennis, the prison guard, who’s having a baby. And there’s been a breach. “Our worst fears lie in anticipation.” And Don, always so cool, calm, and collected. And playing the alpha male around someone who’s just it is to always be in charge.

Marco: It seems like when put into an social situation that he just doesn’t really care to be in, Don will have a drink with just about anyone. In that regard, Don Draper is Ernest Hemingway. And next time, I think Don will remember to bring a bottle.

August: That part, he stuff in the waiting room, was just a great aspect of that storyline in this episode. Dennis’ last words to Don are what I liked the most. The stuff about how Dennis can just tell that Don is an honest man. And how this, being fathers, will make them better men. . Nice lingering thought to leave with someone, either inspirational, or…

Marco: …meant to make them feel guilty?

August: Yeah.

Marco: I think there’s a bit of that, the guilt, maybe, in Don based on that chat. That, or Don listens to Dennis’ naive take on the nobility of a man’s sperm conquering his wife’s eggs and spawning a life and therein lies redemption just kind of cute. I think Don was thinking, I used to think like you did, and now I’m just drinking your booze, buddy. And then afterward, in the hallway, they act like strangers.

But I tell you, Augustus, the show is tugging on me about Betty again. Deep down, I’m honestly rooting for her, even though, really, I’ve grown to hate her. But the way she’s basically just passed off at the nurse’s station amazed me. That girl is just so, so alone.

August: Betty’s vision question as she was induced and the dreams of her mother and father are so intriguing. I feel like she’s slowly losing her insanity throughout the progression of this show. And the horrible nurse, and her accusing said nurse of cheating with her husband, wow.

Marco: “I don’t want to be here.” I imagine you don’t, Birdy. I’ve seen a lot of people online loving the nurse’s analogy there: Betty is on a boat. And Don is on the shore. And right now, it doesn’t really seem like he’s waving her away from the rocks.

But I’m fascinated by how, even in her dreams, Betty gets no respect from her father, and knows the place that she’s been stuck in for so long. “You’re a housecat. You’re very important, but you have little to do.” There’s a whole other discussion/bit of bloggery to be done on the pop feminism dripping out of Betty’s storyline in this episode alone.

August: It was a very interesting, very revealing dream, I think. But who was the black guy sitting there in the kitchen? And the blood? And that was the Hofstadt’s longtime maid, Viola, right?

Marco: I’ll admit to a bit of confusion there as well. At first I thought it was meant to be Medgar Evers. Especially since his death was mentioned earlier. Now I’m pondering if it was just supposed to be someone from Betty’s past? I don’t know.

But, you know, Medgar Evers, that Tibetan monk, Gene Hofstadt, and the upcoming assassination of JFK: This is the year of death on Mad Men.

August: I like Duck – now with ducks on his office wall – trying to scout Pete and Peggy. So good. And especially doing it at the same time.

Marco: And the suggestion that they have a secret relationship, which, of course, they do in a way, but that’s an offensive notion to Pete, who always sees Peggy as less than he. Starting with the fact that she’s just a woman, and continuing with the fact that she is a genuinely talented woman. She represents everything Pete hates about woman,and everything women show Pete has within himself: weakness.

August: Peggy always seems to be breaking down. Or crying about something. Not having enough money. Having a baby. Life being too hard. Or too expensive for her. She puts up a strong front, but falls right into every woman’s stereotype of being a whiny little baby herself.

Marco: I am not going to touch that one with a thirty foot pole.

But I do like Peggy, and like that she gave Don the baby present, and that it was an elephant. Of course it’s an elephant in that room, considering her past and his secret knowledge of that!

August: And I like Pete Campbell. Ah, Pete and “the negro” in the elevator. Always taking work a little too seriously and undervaluing people a little too much.

Marco: He’s always a bit racist, though he doesn’t like being called a “bigot,” but poor Hollis there just wasn’t going to be respected by Pete in that elevator because of the color of his skin anymore than Peggy will ever be because she’s a woman, and because she has power over little Pete Campbell.

It’s kind of funny that Kinsey thinks he’s cool because of his knowledge/fetishizing of black culture. I feel like Kinsey and Pete come at this group of people from just opposite directions.

August: Little Pete Campbell? I tell you, I love his initiative. He basically created the idea of the urban market last night. And I think a lot of his disgust with Peggy comes from his not respecting the decisions she makes. But he is such a controlling guy, even when he shouldn’t be. Or, maybe he should? He is that baby’s daddy.

Marco: I think Roger summed up Pete best last night: A lot of times this business comes down to just, “I don’t like that guy.” That, and chocolate sundaes.

But Pete sums up one of the larger things going on in this show perfectly. We talked before about characters relationship with the previous generation and how they feel out of place with them and that they can’t learn anything from them, but the thing is… they’re just like them, in their own way. Everyone on this show, to use the ship metaphor, is essentially a passenger on the Titanic. And social change is about to hit them hard like a motherfucking iceberg.

August: I hate how everyone dislikes him there at Sterling-Cooper. He’s not the most noble man, no one there is…

Marco: It is advertising after all.

August: Right, but he does have the occasional good idea, you know? It’s a shame some companies worry about image when dealing with “undesirable customers” and not money. I guess Pete’s ideas aren’t good enough that Roger won’t have to give out a few handjobs in 1963.

Marco: Been there, done that.

August: And we cut to the credits. Also, totally unrelated: Kanye West is the shit.

Marco: Kanye is just the new Joe Wilson. Actually, he’s like a wrestler who’s grown too old for his good guy storyline and now has to flirt with evilness and rudeness.

The thing I was hoping to see the most in this episode was, since I knew that it’d be some Pete stuff, a scene with his lovely and wonderful wife, Trudy. Especially since the actress who plays Trudy so wonderfully, Alison Brie, is in this month’s Esquire, in their slightly condescending Funny Joke From A Beautiful Woman segment. Anyway, we shall end our chit chat today with her joke, which I think you’ll find oddly fitting to this episode of Mad Men

A guy walks into a bar and sees a sign that reads, “Cheese sandwich $3.50. Chicken sandwich $4.50 Handjob $5.” He checks his wallet and calls over the waitress. He asks, “Are you the one who does the handjob?”

She smiles at him seductively and says, “I am.”

He says, “Well, wash your friggin’ hands. I want a cheese sandwich.”

Super Secret Smile Saturdays.

Saturday!

Let’s keep this brief. It’s Labor Day weekend. You’re probably out doing some dangerous and weird. Good for you. Right now, I’m doing the exact same thing, just with the internet apparently. and Sapporo. What else is new, right?

A brief confession: This doesn’t interest me at all. I’m trying to think of the last sonic pairing that left me just as flaccid… Oh, yeah, I thought of it. Real talk: She & Him sucked. But it takes someone like Scarlett Johansson doing music to make Zooey Deschanel sound interesting to me. I’m not telling you what you want to hear, I know, I know, but I am telling you what you need to hear.

Videos! Conrad and I are constantly emailing each other links to internet videos, partly because we get bored easily and partly because we’re sick people. For example, here’s one he sent me recently:

I have no idea what the fuck that is. It’s… Well, I just don’t know. So I sent this in response back to him:

The girl in that video, by the way, is Jenny Slate, one of the new cast members announced for the upcoming season of Saturday Night Live. Anyway, in response, I got this:

Let’s just say, it got pretty dirty from there. Including this clip from an old BBC TV movie called Secret Smile, starring David Tennant and Kate Ashfield:

Moving on…

No, really now. Seriously, moving on…

Other music/videos:

1. Someone doing a little thing to Lykke Li‘s “Dance Dance Dance.”

Isn’t that just the most precious, most twee thing you ever saw? It’s wonderful. And fitting of Lykke Li, who I like quite a bit as an artist, but still tend to view her as Bjork’s international and vastly more normal little sister who uses Robyn as a deodorant.

2. And old commercial for Levi Jeans.

This clip, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, was always a really interesting, really effective bit of commercial-ing to me. So much so that I remember it years and years later, partly because of the events, but also the fact that it’s set to Air’s “Playground Love,” which is just awesome. Was recently reminded of it when listening to Phoenix covering Air. I don’t think you have to pay royalties if you’re both French.

3. A music video somebody made for Harvey Danger’s “Carlotta Valdez.”

I don’t expect you to remember this band (at all), but I enjoyed their first album, back in the 90s, and they had two after it, both of slightly diminishing quality, but they still make an interesting 90s curio item of alternarock psuedo-smarmy intellectualism. Also, Vertigo is my favorite movie.

4. The Beatles “Something”

George! A sharp, lovely reminder that “the quiet one” was a strong songwriter in his own right. This song and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” one of my favorites by the group, were breezing through my mind the other day when thinking about the break up of the band. Just timeless gorgeous pop music here. It’s especially fun with this video to compare the fresh faced beauty of Patti Boyd, the star of this song and Eric Clapton’s “Layla” with Yoko, who parades around with John in outfits that make them look like Mr. and Mrs. Warlock.

5. Just for Benjamin Light:

Quentin Tarantino talking about the top 20 movies that have come out since 1992. Some of these choices are incredible displays of crap, and some are actually excellent. But excellent in a “No shit!” kind of way, which is usually how QT works.

6. MF Doom “My Favorite Ladies”

I have no real comment here, honestly. After Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Doom is my favorite rapper. How could he not be? Anyway, I was reminded of this track/discovered the video when I also heard the song mashed up with this next and last group…

7. Flying Lotus “Infinitum”