“For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”

Like my previous post, this will be just a few things, some half way there thoughts…

One: The sky is still falling, and this blog is still coming to an end. We’re getting there, but slowly.

After this: 89 posts to go.

Have you listened to our podcast? You’ll notice that a majority of the posts now are just tools for you to download each new episode (but we’ll be on itunes soon). Not every post from now til the end – from this time to the end of time – will be solely about episodes of the podcast, but a good chunk of the rest of this blog will be eaten up by the creature that is consuming it and evolving out of it.

Evolution imagery is gruesome and interesting.

Two: It’s probably been a hundred years since I saw the Star Trek episode from this post borrow its title.

I vaguely remember it had a premise that sounded less interestingly like a very interesting (at least in its promise and potential) show that Harlan Ellison created way back, called The Starlost.

I won’t rehash the show’s plot, especially since you can just read about it on the Wikipedia link, but from what I gathered the show was terrible. But in reading what’s there, to me, I see the potential for something amazing, something that could be brilliant with a little bit of re-conceptualizing and competent execution.

Brilliant and intriguing puzzle/mystery box shoes still seem to be highly lusted after by network TV execs in these post-Lost wilderness years, but it seems like no one has the time to invest in competent conceptualization and execution. So it goes. Instead of our altars, we’re building our own coffins.

Three: Speaking of The Starlost, also read up on the idea of generation ships, and holodecks, and the Danger Room from X-men comics, the Dreamatorium from Community, and Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series.

And see also: the “Mystery In Space” and “Rendezvous” issues of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary comic series, which was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve had the pleasure to read in the last ten or so years. On its surface, it’s about mystery archaeologists, but in reality its a love letter to certain kinds of storytelling from the previous fifty years of our culture.

Four: We eat our young. Only those lucky or tough enough to crawl away are potentially worthy of living to tell the tale.

Five: This is the new decade. There’s bigger and better thinkers who are more capable of this, better suited to the task, but I wonder what this new decade will look like. What innovations and disasters and pop confectioneries will define this new unit of measuring time.

And from that, I say… Does this decade, still in its relative infancy, still feel remarkably similar to the latter days of the previous decade? Isn’t that how it goes? Did the initial years of the 80s feel similar to waning years of the70s? Did the first few years of the 90s look anything like the middle years of the 90s?

Six: I’ve never seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire, but I’ve always wanted to. I guess that, amongst other things, what’s been holding me up is that it’s a piece of old 3 1/2 German sci fi. That and it wasn’t readily available until the it was released not too long ago as part of the Criterion Collection.

The Criterion Collection. Of course.

The movie is based on an old novel, Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, and I have seen the American movie adaptation of that book…

Seven: When something is said, or when art is created, mixed with business and pleasure, how often does it come from a real, authentic place, answering questions or curiosities that are out there amongst the community? Or, especially when you lean more towards business rather than pleasure, or the pleasure of business, does it come from the perception of an interest within the larger community, the popular imagination, or a desire to create and inspire that perception and then make money off of it?

Eight: In the 90s, especially towards the beginning of the 90s, but a little at the end of it, it seemed like we didn’t know what we had on our hands. Not yet anyway.

It’s like Murphy Brown’s baby, that was born amidst a certain level of generated/unnecessary controversy. It was raised by the guy who was painting the house for years and years and wouldn’t be named until it could be deciphered, or understood. I know that kid eventually got a name, but wasn’t he, like, twenty at that point?

In Sci Fi trends in the 90s it seemed like they were mixing the 70s paranoia rehash that was being re-conceptualized in The X-Files with this desire to pursue the new, the fringes of oncoming technology and the things that we assumed would be important.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to start talking about virtual reality in a moment.

On top of that, you had boy bands and you “alternative rock” and I remember going to high school and hearing bullshit arguments about who was or what constituted being a “poser.” I heard some kids of being accused of being “wiggers.” On one hand we were growing up to want to start living lives out of the movies that had raised us when our parents were busy, and on the other hand we were accused of appropriating lives and roles that it was felt we had no right to. In music and society and goofy cultural matters there was this question of authenticity.

Perhaps you’re not real. Perhaps you only existence in the simulacra of someone else. And perhaps because you think, therefore you are…

Unless you’re just programmed to have thoughts, or to think you’re having thoughts. Who is telling this story? And to whom?

Anyway.

The American movie that came out of Simulacron-3 in the 90s was The Thirteenth Floor, starring Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Dennis Haysbert. It’s a murder mystery set within a company that’s created a new simulated reality, and there’s a twist. The twist is not hard to guess.

from here.

The tagline for the movie was “Question Reality.” I find that interesting since the tagline for American Beauty, which came out int he same year, was “Look Closer.”

Is it possible that we’re missing something?

The Thirteenth Floor was/is not a bad movie, just a movie that wasn’t thought out far enough to its natural conclusion. It reminds me in some regards of a movie that would come today in that it seems like it’s two drafts of a script away from being much, much better. It’s a very American movie that’s concerned with the nature of our reality, with existential paranoia, mashed up with echoes of a film noir feeling.

But then again, a lot of its problems can be summed up with two words: Craig Bierko. Another bizarre, failed experiment in creating a leading man out of literally nothing.

Nine: Granted, The Thirteenth Floor was not a movie from the early 90s, and in fact came out in 1999, around the same time as The Matrix, a movie with an arguably incredibly similar premise, especially concerning how many elements it ripped off from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.

Also, there was David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Alex Proyas’ Dark City (which I never saw cause it looks stupid), and The Truman Show, which had similar heavy overtones. But earlier in the decade you had the short lived Fox TV show VR.5 which, if I were to watch it now, I’m sure I’d more than cringe at, but at the time, I thought was incredibly intriguing. That show starred Lori Singer, Anthony Stewart Head, Will Patton, and David McCallum.

Ten: At the start of this I talked haphazardly about the idea of a newborn decade dreaming of the past, but really it’s a matter of the new decade dreaming of the future, of what is to come? I should be talking about Christopher Nolan’s  Inception here probably. Something something something THIS DREAM IS COLLAPSING.

Eleven: From Borges to Pynchon to Phillip K. Dick, so much of our fiction comes back to questioning the layers of reality and how we perceive it. What is real? What is really happening? And what is the reality of what is happening, real or otherwise?

Reality may be real, or it might not be, at least not real in the sense that we think of, but we share it, and we create it together, don’t we?

from here.

Twelve: Personally I would state that the experience of an event is the reality of it, at least in the moment. Reflection is easy, but it only casts a shadow over reaction in retrospect.

Thirteen: For now, this blog is moving forward, but it’s marching onward to its eventual demise, of sorts. Even on the internet, matter can only change forms, not be fully destroyed (I hope). Soon, what is currently thought of as Your Friendly Neighborhood Counterforce will become a time capsule, once it’s fallen completely out of this virtual sky that we’re all looking at together.

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A planet called America, part two.

This morning I walked into work and said something to one of my co-workers along the lines of, “So, is your life any better now that Osama is dead?” She looked at me said, “OMG, the President is dead?” And I said, “Huh? What? No. NO. Osama. Bin Laden!” And then she squinted, looked at me curiously, and said, “What the fuck are you talking about?” Just then another co-worker held up the front page of the newspaper which had a huge picture of the deceased terrorist mastermind on it and a massive headline that said “BIN LADEN DEAD.” Or maybe it said “BIN LADEN KILLED.” Honestly, I can’t remember anymore. But the headline was huge.

from here.

A week ago I said to a friend: “Dealing with your enemies is simple and easy. The best way to combat them is to simply make friends with them. Make friends with them so hard that it hurts.”

It’s so weird to me still that one of the time I felt most unified with this crazy, amazing, fucked up country was on 9/11. The wost metaphor I could use here would be: It’s like that girlfriend, the one who’s really fucking amazing, if a little weird, and way too good for you, and you just treat her like shit. She should really quit you and your bullshit. You just don’t appreciate her and for some reason she just won’t leave you. And you don’t realize how important she really is to you until someone else threatens here. Some clarity only comes to us on the precipice of great and terrible disaster. Life is funny like that.

Part of me is glad that Bin Laden wasn’t captured and forced to answer for his crimes to us and to the world in person, though I would have wanted that, of course. Part of me was glad to hear that this was finally over, that everyone who had been wounded by the tragedies that seemed to be dialed up at this man’s fingertips can now crawl just one more inch ever so slowly and painfully into the past. I wouldn’t really call this “justice “though because, well, there is no such thing as justice. Scales aren’t balanced because Bin Laden is dead. His life will never ever begin to be equal in worth to those lost on 9/11 or those who have put on an military uniform and defended a certain set of ideals and beliefs that we all take for granted every single minute. America is a brilliant, beautiful idea, but not a perfect one, and it can be hurt and it can be dented, but it’ll always be stronger than some cheap thug, no matter where he lives, no matter what he looks like, no matter what he worships. It can only be killed by those who give up on the idea, or who sell it out bit by bit in the name of “freedom.”

from here.

The death of what we consider to be an evil man on the other side of the world doesn’t bring back all those special people that we lost but hopefully it helps some people to breathe easier. Hopefully it reminds us why those people were special to us and hopefully we never forget what they meant to us. I’d like to say that hopefully it makes us appreciate each moment we have on this planet all that much more, but we should’ve been doing that long before now, and of course should continue doing that to the moment we draw our last breath. Hopefully someone like Bin Laden will never ever come close to challenging that idea every again.

I’ll admit to being conflicted or just confused about this news and how I should be feeling, but I’m lucky. Lucky to be here, lucky to be typing this in the land of the free, home of the brave. I’m lucky that I didn’t lose anyone ten years ago on that strange September day or in the fights and wars that followed. Who Osama Bin Laden is and what all of this means is something for you to decide. I can tell you that I don’t view this man’s death as closure, but honestly, I won’t look down on anyone who gets it from this news.

Thank you, mom. Thank you, God. Thank you, Barack Obama. Thank you, Donald Trump (with your stupid ass hair and head full of shit). Thank you, Pakistan. Thank you, India! Thank you, everyone who’s ever stood up for what they believed in and put that belief above themselves. Thank you, Bill Murray. Thank you, internet jokesters and “expert thinkers.” Thank you, Doctor Who. Thank you to the moon and to The Onion, both. Thank you, mainstream media. Thank you, “Mission Accomplished.” Thank you, those who agree with me, and thank you to those who would never agree with me in a million years. Thank you, Jack Donaghy, and thank you, Condoleezza Rice and thank you, Margaret Cho (for guest starring on 30 Rock). Thank you, strange new/old world that has such people in it. Thank you, post-Now. Thank you to everyone who thinks this matters and everyone who knows that it really doesn’t. Thank you to all those who never forget and especially thank you to those who are doomed to remember.

I saw this picture posted on the internet a little while ago…

…and I had a might good chuckle.

The terrorists are always winning. And the terrorists are always losing. And the battle will keep raging and hopefully we’ll never forget what we’re fighting for or who we should actually be fighting.

It’s doesn’t even matter that Superman’s no longer an American citizen or that The Rock had the #1 movie at the box office this weekend AND knew that Osama was dead before you did because…

Well, because the story’s not over and the dream is never ending.

And like PKD said, Maybe the Empire never ended?

Like fake MLK said, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

It’s been over 24 hours now and tonight when I go to bed I’ll be thinking the same thing I was thinking last night, “Okay, so Osama’s dead. And what will tomorrow look like?”

Motion pictures arts & sciences.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the glitz and the glamor of the Oscars or Hollywood royalty or whatever, but let’s get down to brass tacks, people: Predictions. I want to hear yours. I only have a few I want to talk about here, so let’s get down to what I feel is the strongest lock of the night…

Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network‘s screenplay. What is that, Best Adapted Screenplay? Yeah.

Next: Best score.

Probably Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network? I guess? Though I do like Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, but I just don’t see it or any of the other nominees taking it. Reznor and Ross’ score is just so different and stands out head and shoulders above the rest in so many ways.

Next: Best Acress.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think that Natalie Portman will get this?

I’m surprised they didn’t mail this to her like a week ago. Actually, that’s not true. I’m saying there’s a 94% chance it’ll go to Portman, and a %6 chance it’ll go to Annette Bening for Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.

I want to make the point that, sadly, I haven’t seen as nearly as many of the nominated movies as I’d like this year, but that’s true of just about any year, unfortunately. Even sadder still is that I don’t think you need to see the movies to make fairly informed guesses on who’ll win. So much of the Oscar wins can be predicted on either buzz or what the Academy has done before or both.

Next: Best Supporting.

I feel like Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are both going to get it for David O. Russell’s The Fighter.

Much, much smaller chances: Geoffrey Rush or John Hawkes, but I just don’t see it.

Next: Best Actor.

I don’t have a clue. Colin Firth, most likely. If you’d put a gun to my head, that’s what I would’ve said. But maybe Javier Bardem too, but I’m saying that just because he seems like such a dark horse candidate.

Next: The main event. Best Picture.

Forget all the other movies, it all comes down to The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Right?

from here.

But not Black Swan. Sorry, Black Swan, you’re not perfect enough.

If I had to guess, I’d say that The King’s Speech will get it, unfortunately. I’d love for Inception to get it. You know why? JUST CAUSE. Fall asleep on an airplane and I’ll put that idea in your brain. But I think Time magazine pegged it most accurately: This all comes down to the new vs. old. The Social Network is a movie completely unlike anything else that’s been nominated for Best Picture before and The King’s Speech is just another helping of the same old shit. As Time also put it: This comes down to head vs. heart. The Social Network is a highly intellectual film and The King’s Speech is pappy crap, that same shit that tugs on your heartstrings again and again each award season. Vanilla bullshit.

Voting for The King’s Speech is a bullet in the head of a newborn kitten! You might as well go vote for Life Is Beautiful again! Ugh. And yet, I feel like it’ll win, as do a lot of people, of course. I feel like the writing is on the wall…

That said, I feel like this might be one of those weird years where whoever gets Best Director might not get Best Film as well. Or maybe not. I just can’t see Aronofsky or David O. Russell taking home a little gold man tonight.

This should be exciting though. Are you ready? Can you feel the heat?

And what’s your predictions?

The suburb of the soul.

Mad linkage:

Who is Arcade Fire?!

It seems like the theme of Sunday’s Grammys were “I don’t know who this person is.”

The most British movie ever.

The oral history of Party Down.

The Machinist‘s Brad Anderson to adapt J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, starring Christian Bale.

Robots to get their own internet.

You can buy the new Radiohead album this Saturday!

PLAY The Great Gatsby for NES.

Sex, drugs, and cannibalism: the Chilean miners’ story.

Fuck Yeah Lady Writers.

Hello! And RIP Uncle Leo.

House group proposes shifting Earth science funds to manned spaceflight.

This guy will buy you breakfast if you can explain Lost to him.

The science of heartlessness.

Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K. Dick’s Ubik.

from here.

Michael Moorcock on J. G. Ballard.

Sarah Jessica Parker wants to do a Sex And The City 3 and she wants to do it just for Benjamin Light.

What makes black holes so black?

Crystal Renn addresses her weight loss and maintaining plus-size model status.

The Criterion Collection is on Hulu Plus (and so is your mom).

Americans know so little about the bible.

James Van Der Beek to play himself on an ABC sitcom. Seriously.

Also: Aaron Sorkin to guest as himself on 30 Rock.

“We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.”

-J. G. Ballard

The sun unleashed a huge solar flare towards the Earth.

CBS News’ Lara Logan hospitalized after sexual assault in Egypt.

Living towers made of humans.

Hans Zimmer promises that the score for The Dark Knight Rises will be both “epic” and “iconic.”

Also, 1 in 5 films coming out in 2011 will be sequels.

Click here to see the beginning of something wonderful.

Natalie Portman cries a lot.

Who makes shittier movies, Guy Ritchie or Zack Snyder?

by Jason Brockert, from here.

Pakistan issues arrest warrent for Pervez Musharraf.

Whatcha thinkin’ about?

There’s a DuckTales comic coming out. How awesome is that?

Twitter, translations, and the new geopolitics.

The Onion’s AV Club interviews PJ Harvey.

Look at the trailer for this Dead Island game. I know nothing about this game, but based on this trailer, I want to play the fuck out of it.

Why the Oscars snubbed Christopher Nolan.

You rock, rock.

from here.

Why I want to fuck J. G. Ballard.

Maria Bello a reasonable replacement for Helen Mirren in the unnecessary remake of Prime Suspect?

An underground village in France where people lived for hundreds of years.

Jeff Mangum is touring.

Billy Ray Cyrus blames the Devil and David Lynch for his problems.

Facebook’s growing web of frenemies.

Justina Bieber doesn’t believe in abortions, even in the case of rape. Man… whatever.

from here.

Michael Emerson to star in Person Of Interest, the CBS pilot from J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan about predicting/fighting future crime.

Pitchfork gave the new Mogwai album a 6.6.

Top 10 famous people who didn’t actually exist.

Donnie Darko‘s Richard Kelly to do a normal, traditional thriller next.

What would Hüsker Dü?

There’s a campaign to replace the N-word in Huckleberry Finn with “robot.”

“I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that’s my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again … the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.”

-J. G. Ballard

I like and respect Jill Thompson’s visual take on Wonder Woman.

Speaking of which, Adrianne Palicki is the new Wonder Woman (in that David E. Kelley TV pilot).

…and here is the audition tape for Tanit Phoenix, who didn’t get the role, that shows how obsessed the pilot script seems to be with breasts.

Iain Sinclair on J.G. Ballard’s favorite artwork.

The underage cast of MTV’s Skins pose in their skimpies in Elle. Now go crazy, people.

The age of consent around the world.

The businessmen drink my blood just like the kids in art school said they would…”

The guy who was raised by cats.

01/11/11.

from here.

From the internet:

Anthropomorphic cannibalism.

The difference between the US version of Skins and the UK version of Skins.

How to use eHOW to turn yourself into a comedic force to be reckoned with.

Brooklyn style, bitch!”

Bond is back.

by Kelly Reemtsen, from here.

The Day The Universe Came and other incredibly amazing and erotic pulp science fiction book covers.

The afterlife of David Foster Wallace.

What really happened to Endor when they ganked the Death Star?

Hark! A Vagrant and Nancy Drew.

from here.

Twitter’s response to the WikiLeaks subpoena should be the industry standard.

FYI: The Prisoner is probably still my favorite show ever.

Meg Ryan and John (Cougar!) Mellencamp are dating and that’s a little too much for me to handle this early in the new year.

Kepler spacecraft finds hot, distant planet.

An infographic history of the Batmobile.

via Boing Boing.

Mona Lisa landscape mystery finally “solved.”

People can build bombs out of anything. Including vibrators.

The Counterforce post with the best pictures.

Myspace cuts half it’s staff in half.

Here’s 12 ways to spot a cheat.

Literal New Yorker cartoon captions.

What would Jesus do about sex trafficking?

There’s going to be another Neil LaBute movie, this time starring Brendan Fraser.

Did Kanye steal Dr. Dog’s music video?

Also, Kanye got his album cover banned on purpose. Sigh.

Atmosphere’s self-cleaning capacity surprisingly stable.

I really like this mash up between Doctor Who and Dr. Seuss.

Ghostbusters meets Inception.

The eurotrash and their monetary destiny.

The ALA’s Youth Media Award winners.

The 50 best comic book covers of 2010.

Grant Morrison’s 2002 performance piece for Steve Cook.

Charlize Theron to star in Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel?

Visualizing the deletion process on Wikipedia.

Interesting photos: The photo that Anna Wintour famously axed from Vogue and Wastelands by Dan Dubowitz.

Climate change to last a millennium. Deal with it.

NASA called 2012 the most flawed sci fi film ever.

Transcending the human, DIY style.

from here.

The year in film.

This is a fun little montage:

from here and here.

The year is almost over.

Mad linkage:

Chuck Klosterman on Jonathan Franzen.

Mary-Kate Olsen and SUDDEN NUDITY.

Reality A and Reality B” by Haruki Murakami.

The Onion AV Club interviews Charles Burns.

Aaron Sorkin on Sarah Palin’s reality TV show.

The Day looks interesting, but maybe I’m just a sucker for post apocalyptic post rock?

Thankfully Giada De Laurentiis is not fucking John Mayer.

Ken Burns hates reality TV.

They made a TV show out of Douglas Adam’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to star as rival political candidates in a Jay Roach comedy.

Pictures in this post are originally from here, here, here, here, and here.

The 25 best children’s books of all time.

The real-life Swedish murder that inspired Stieg Larsson.

Watch James Franco as he makes out with himself in a mirror.

Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel to be called “Paradise.”

Inception in real time!

The MPAA has overturned it’s rating on Blue Valentine.

On The Bro’d.

Bebe Zeva’s account of her relationship with Carles/”Hipster Runoff” seems “fascinating” and “insightful” and “not at all made up.”

7 scenes from The Walking Dead comic that should’ve ended up in the TV show.

Umberto Eco on WikiLeaks.

The most racist commercial ever is hilarious.

Ah, 2010, we hardly knew ye, you came and went, and now the end of you is almost upon us…