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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


09/08/09: 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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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…



“The biggest Austrian Superstar since Hitler.”

The nice thing about going to see a Sacha Baron Cohen film, like Brüno or Borat, is that it feels like watching live theatre. But live theatre where something has gone horribly wrong, then horribly right in that wrongness, the train is off the track and it’s wonderful.

And that’s what Brüno is, absolutely wonderful. Is it offensive and foul and mean-spirited at times? Yes, but wonderfully so. Horribly beautifully so in a crudely justifiable way.

The film, which was also known by the fake working title of Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt, should have perhaps stuck with that longer fake title. It sums up the film perfectly.

Cohen’s ability to expose and skewer religious intolerance, the desire for fame, and homophobia is genius. And in this film, he ratchets up the gay energy to an almost nuclear level. Not in an offensive way, I don’t think, and I hope others don’t either, but in an almost celebratory way’s. He’s not simply playing a gay character here, he’s playing what some would consider the ultimate stereotype of gay characters.

He’s then throwing those stereotypes into the faces of unwitting victims on camera, pulling out the true responses of these people, usually blazing homophobia and he’s putting it on the wall of the cinema for us all to see, like a glimpse through the cultural looking glass of the funhouse mirror. He’s saying, “look at their reactions. Isn’t that ridiculous?”

To share individual moments with this film to anyone reading who hasn’t seen the movie (and wishes to, or will hopefully someday be forced to) would be criminal. But if you’ve seen the trailer to the film, or seen Borat or Da Ali G show before, you’ve got an idea. And, you have no idea at all.

Put vaguely, here’s just a tasty taste of what to expect: Austria, the ultimate advice from a nutritionist, a pygmy lover named Diesel, possibly the greated lovemaking scene to ever grace the cinema since Team America, a lot of people being held hostage by their shock at seeing such outrageous things, how to defend yourself against a man with two dildos, pure guerilla cinema, what it looks like to attempt to make a sex tape with Ron Paul, the happy accidents of fashion, Paula Abdul, Mexican furniture, people who “cure” homosexuality, a great interview with Harrison Ford, a lot of nudity, a sex act performed on a spirit, the hunt for a new cause célèbre (Clooney’s got Darfur, so Brüno wants Darfive), the Dallas area talk show that left a lot of people beautifully upset, a swinger party, parents who want their kids to be stars, and the Sex And The City-esque foursome of good ol’ boy shitkicker hunter types. And maybe, just maybe, some love among the cultural ruins that is MMA gatherings.

Sadly, what you won’t see is the LaToya Jackson scene that was recently cut in lieu of her brother’s death, and Brüno taking on Prop 8 in California. Or whatever happened at the senior bingo game that has one woman suing Cohen because she says the prank left her disabled. I know that at certain points while watching the film, I certainly felt disabled with laughter.

A friend texted me earlier, responding to a text from me saying that I was seeing the film this afternoon, and asked if it was less funny, as funny, or more funny than Borat? About the same, but in a different way, I’d say. And much tighter, packing a lot in a very economic runtime. Walking out of the theatre, Conrad Noir said to me, “Come Monday, a lot of the people who were in that film are going to be suing?” He was specifically referring to parents of aspiring baby actors, but he could’ve been referring to just about anyone. Recalling an account I had read of the trials and tribulations of getting Borat off the ground, I’m glad that Sacha Baron Cohen and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld‘s Larry Charles found each other. I’m not entirely sure what their working style is, but I can only imagine that it’s a lot of mutual enabling and a lot of crossing their fingers. Too many of their stunts and pranks require a lot of set up and could’ve only illicted one take, one shot to hit or miss.

Hours after seeing the film now I’m still chuckling at some of the moments from it. The perfectly created awkwardness of some of the scenes and the confusion and intolerance of people that’s so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at it. But it makes you want to examine yourself for a moment. You’re laughing at the silliness of others, but you’re almost uncomfortable, worried what you’d do if you were trapped in a similar situation. Chances are good that within every one of this there lays some kind of prejudice or ignorance. Let’s just hope that Sacha Baron Cohen keeps making films until he exposes all of them.