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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…And I feel fine/No future for you!

Well, I guess the Rapture didn’t happen, huh? Not today, I guess. I mean, I’m still here. You’re reading this, so I guess you’re still here too, huh? The sad thing about “The Rapture” is that, well, besides it being a fictional event in a set of fables in a funny book of short stories about wizards and demons and old world customs, is that… well, I just don’t know anyone who would be going up in this fantastical sounding Rapture thing. It’s just for the good, right? Well, all the people I know are bad, bad people… And I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way.

from here.

Oh well, a shame. But I suppose the Internet will quickly find something else for itself to get excited about, right? But there’s still us and there’s tomorrow and a little more juice to be squeezed out of whatever could be “the future” and there’s whatever could possibly come with that…

Mad linkage:

Here’s 10 other recent predictions for the End Times that didn’t come true either.

German insurance firm held orgy to reward salesmen.

Learn how to tie your shoes right.

Quite possibly our first look at Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Kirk Cameron vs. Stephen Hawking.

Ricky Gervais on The Office‘s finale.

If you do go up in the Rapture, don’t worry, the atheists will take care of your pets… for a price.

An excerpt from Chris Adrian’s new novel.

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

-Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

by Beth Hoeckel, from here.

What really goes on in Area 51?

A volcano in Iceland called Grímsvötn has erupted.

Twitter shit about the Rapture from yesterday.

Inside the Robert Redford biography.

Stephen Fry joins The Hobbit.

New discovery about mosquitoes reveals why vampires will never exist.

Speaking of which, Joe Jackson is still a bloodsucking piece of shit.

from here.

“The future is already here… It’s just not even distributed.”

-William Gibson

David Lynch to release an album later this year.

The visual impact of gossip.

The story of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed/failed/totally fucking crazy would be adaptation of Dune to become a documentary. Here’s Dan O’Bannon talking about it a little.

Related: the team up between Salvador Dali and Walt Disney.

Just checking: Still no Rapture, right? Whew.

NBC cancels Outsourced. Good.

The trailer for the new film by Miranda July.

Carrie is being remade and Stephen King suggests Lindsay Lohan for the lead.

from here.

This trailer/movie looks really terrible: Horrible Bosses.

This trailer looks so so, but the movie will probably suck: Another Earth.

It’s Pilot Season! Trailers for (just a few of the) new TV shows that were just picked up:

Awake. Which… looks good, looks interesting, but I just don’t see a TV show that I would follow/watch for years and years there. Funny how both it and Another Earth‘s trailer use that song by the Cinematic Orchestra.

Alcatraz. The latest from the J.J. Abrams camp… The 4400 meets Prison Break, featuring Sam Neill and Hurley from Lost. This looks ridiculous, and I’ll watch it and just hope that it’s not another letdown like Fringe.

Person Of Interest. Another from J. J. Abrams, although it seems like it’s mostly just his name on it and the real creative juice is from Jonathan Nolan, writer of The Dark Knight and brother of Christopher. Looks interesting-ish, but Jim Caviezel? Was that really necessary?

A trailer for the documentary on the showrunners of all your favorite TV shows.

And a nice guide to the shows that didn’t make it to the Fall 2011 season.

“The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.”

-Dennis Gabor

I had a dream a while back that the world was ending… It was an odd dream, but not a terrible one, I guess. It’s just not something you can prepare for, the end of the world. You can’t ever really be ready for it. You just gotta keep on living, don’t you? And loving and listening to music and dancing and pursuing impossible things and enjoying mundane moments and people and doing all kinds of stupid shit. Take things seriously but maybe enjoy the ridiculous things that surround you just a little bit more? I don’t want to tell you something terribly cliched, like… Live every moment like it’s your last!

No, don’t do that. You’ll probably hurt yourself trying to do that.

But maybe every once in a while, take a single moment and consider that it is your last moment on this beautiful, insane planet, and just really ponder that. And think about what you would do if it wasn’t. Beam yourself into the future and peek in on yourself and see what you’re up to. Take a vacation into the future and see who you are there. Interview yourself and find out what went right and wrong in your life in the moments/weeks/months/years between now and then, and take good notes. And when you come back to the present, remember that little trip. Remember that time you went to the future and appreciate that you’re back here, and now, and then go there again.

The anniversary of Bikini Atoll is coming up.

Chinese “dinosaur city” reshapes understanding of prehistoric era.

Brittany Julious is sexy.

The kind of guys who stay single?

The Cat Rapture for Caturday!

Neil Gaiman on Gene Wolf.

Grant Morrison to write a movie about dinosaurs vs. aliens, Barry Sonnenfield to direct.

from here.

RIP “Macho Man.”

The fashion of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Fleetwood Mac to reunite in time for the end of the world.

The never before seen original ending to Alexander Payne’s Election, which is much closer to the book’s ending.

I don’t think I’m all that crazy about these Odd Future guys.

Skeeter Davis and Henry Moore.

Tom Cruise is a lonely robot repairman.

from here.

How to survive a mass extinction.

Plot details from the upcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp big screen version of Dark Shadows.

Will the internet destroy academic freedom?

A history of bedwetting.

Bionic hands! The future is now!

A good prank for the Rapture.

Oh well, hopefully this one was good practice for the next time the world (supposedly) ends. Still plenty of time to get your Rapture Playlist just fucking perfect. No sleep til 2012!

In my younger and more vulnerable years…

People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away.

The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.

He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.

It was dark now, and as we dipped under a little bridge I put my arm around Jordan’s golden shoulder and drew her toward me and asked her to dinner. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking of Daisy and Gatsby any more, but of this clean, hard, limited person, who dealt in universal skepticism, and who leaned back jauntily just within the circle of my arm. A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.”

“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”

He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.

“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.

Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.

You always look so cool,” she repeated.

She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. He was astounded. His mouth opened a little, and he looked at Gatsby, and then back at Daisy as if he had just recognized her…

-all passages, of course, from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and pictures from the 1949, 1974, and 2000 film adaptations.

The novel, being an American classic, like all things American, is perfect in places and hideously overrated in others.

My year in lists, part three: Memento Mori.

Like I said yesterday, while I started a bit early, I wanted to talk about some of the incredibly talented people who’ve left us behind, and now faced with that prospect, I know that there’s no way I can truly do that subject justice. But every year someone famous dies, leaving behind a (possibly) nice body of work, and all we can hope to do is remember them and why we liked them in the first place, right?

“The fall will probably kill you!”

Paul Newman, 1925 – 2008. The George Clooney to Robert Redford’s Brad Pitt. My mother made sure that our household when I was growing up was always very pro-Redford, so other than The Sting and Butch And Sundance, I had to discover Mr. Newman on my own, but even for just those two classics alone, he deserves high notice on this list. And for Road To Perdition. And, of course, for his delightful line of salad dressings.

“Florida, Florida, Florida!”

Tim Russert, 1950 – 2008. Here was the pundit that you didn’t quite realize the worth of until he was gone. This was the everyday kind of guy who knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t let himself be bullshitted. Am I the only person that missed his wild infectious enthusiasm for the sports of politics this last election cycle?

“Who’s the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?”

Isaac Hayes, 1942 – 2008. I don’t think it even needs to be explained why this is such a powerful loss. Just listen:

We’re just gonna try to forget about the whole Scientology thing though, alright?

“I was never one to obsess about the past. Too much to do in the future!”

Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919 – 2008. Mountain climbing and philanthropy. Not too shabby. Hillary, if you don’t know is one of the first men, along with sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, to reach Mount Everest’s summit in 1953. When Hillary got back, he told his longtime friend, George Lowe, “Well George, we knocked that bastard off.” Awesome.

“One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one…”

David Foster Wallace, 1962 – 2008. A real loss. Not only a writer who had impressive output and influence, but who whose better days seemed to be laying ahead for him. Not so much, according to this very informative bit from Rolling Stone.

A remembrance of things past.

Harold Pinter, 1930 – 2008. A heavyweight of storytelling. Do I need to explain why Pinter is fantastic, do I? Do I really (though I still have some questions about The Birthday Party, but I’ll let them slide for the moment)? Maybe I’ll just throw out this clip as proof of the man’s immense worth:

That’s “The Betrayal,” one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld, based on Pinter’s The Betrayal, but you can also find the entire episode on youtube, only re-reversed, which is actually kind of… unsatisfying.

Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008. The sad thing is that his dead didn’t have any effect on me at all, you know? And it is sad because when I was ten, Crichton’s books made reading and being smart and most importantly wanting to be smart and enjoy that kind of thing in your reading cool. For a long time, this was the author who released a small masterpiece every few years and typically backed it up with a new degree that just screamed authenticity about whatever his latest cautionary tale was about, but the last few books… Tremendous crap. Not just the writing, but the angles he approached them from (he didn’t believe in global warming and thought that SETI was more religious idealization than anything approaching near science) and petty attacks on critics. He finished one last book before he died and it will be released in May of next year. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers in hope of the redemption of a literary master.

“I want to be evil.”

Eartha Kitt, 1927 – 2008. Not only did Miss Kitt want to be evil, but she made me want to fall in love with an evil girl. An affliction I’m happy to have still not quite shaken off.

“…From my cold dead hands.”

Charlton Heston, 1923 – 2008. This one’s tricky, especially since in the last few years of his life, Heston’s come to stand for and be a proud symbol of a lot of the things I despise in this world. And yet, the man was a brilliant actor once upon a time…

…which may seem like a trite statement when coupled with a clip from Wayne’s World 2 (which is a brilliant movie, alright?), but it’s very indicative of how strong of an actor Heston could be, even in cameos. And cameos were what he specialized in back in the 90s. But try not to remember the man as the racist gun nut that he died as, but as the mega star of biblical classics and Touch Of Evil and The Omega Man and The Planet Of The Apes. Oh, and another thing: “Soylent Green is people!”

“Why so serious?”

Heath Ledger, 1979 – 2008. This is the very definition of an actor cut down in his prime. By the end of The Dark Knight, you’re just hungry for the return of this character the way that Ledger’s played him, but you want to run out of the theater and get your hands on everything this actor’s ever done before and devour it. And sadly, while there’s been some wonderful films in his filmography, there’s also been some crap, and he leaves behind too small of a legacy for an actor so tall in talent.

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits.

Just note that other blogs will merely refer to the seven dirty words you can’t say on television, but Counterforce goes there and tells you them flat out. We’re fucked up, nasty people, we are. But from there we go into the creator of that bit of comedy, George Carlin, 1937 – 2008, and Bernie Mac, 1957 – 2008. I list them together because they’re both hilarious comedians who’ve certainly made their mark but also because I’m not huge fans of them, but for similar reasons on opposite ends of the sprectrum. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to too much Carlin, but more of the people who were inspired by him, and yet somehow, I feel like I was more exposed to the comedians who inspired Mac. Somewhere in there is a happy medium in which I respect both of these funny men.

Countdown To Mystery.

Steve Gerber, 1947 – 2008. I end this list with the man you’ve probably never heard of, and that’s a shame. Gerber was a giant in the comics industry, creating Howard The Duck, which you can see up above (and yes, you remember the movie, you know you do)(cause it was hot, sweaty genius, it was)(nevermind it, though, go read the original comics, which were brilliant) and the awesome Omega The Unknown, not to mention work on hundreds of other titles. The man was loud and opinionated and he backed it up with awesome skills. Also, you can watch Howard The Duck on hulu, which you should totally go do right this second.

Tomorrow, part one: For a better way…

“Politics is bullshit.”

The other day I completed the same ritual I do every four years: watching The Candidate, the 1972 Michael Ritchie movie starring Robert Redford and Pete Boyle about how the political machine works.

Even being over a quarter of a century old, this movie still feels relevant to me. Probably because the system hasn’t really changed all that much in the decades since it was just released, just got faster and slicker. And you could make the argument that while a lot of us got smarter and savvier, a good deal more of us let ourselves become stupid and lazier.

The plot is simple: Boyle’s character is the democratic operative who’s tasked with the unwinnable mission of unseating a popular Republican senator from California. Knowing that he absolutely can’t win, he seeks out Bill McCkay, Robert Redford’s character, the good looking son of a former governor who couldn’t care less about politics, and instead works as a lawyer for liberal causes. But Boyle’s hard sell to Redford’s character isn’t all that hard: He can’t win, everyone knows that the Republican will win, so therefore he can out there and say whatever he wants and to a much larger audience than he has now.  Mckay accepts, but on the condition that he can say whatever he wants and that he can keep his father, whom he’s had a falling out with, out of the campaign and do this on his own.

From the get go, his political staff is crafting him to be  your typical candidate with cheesy commercials designed to make their opponent look old and out of touch, and ridiculous slogans that don’t mean anything (“McKay: The Better Way”), but McKay sticks to his guns delivering speeches about things no one wants to talk about like abortion rights, welfare, and environmental regulations. He easily wins the primary (no one else is stupid enough to run in it), and then realizes through his polling projections that he’ll get destroyed in the general election. Losing is one thing, but being flat out humiliated is another and at this point, he can’t back out.

So as they get closer to election day, McKay starts playing the game. His liberal statements erode away and his speeches become nothing but the same old clichés and empty statements as everyone else. He ignores what’s in his heart and follows what he’s told to do. But then he has a new problem: Since his father has stayed out of the campaign up to this point, the media takes that as a silent endorsement of the opponent. McKay goes to his father to make a comment to the contrary, but his simple statement that he doesn’t endorse the republican only makes it worse. Regardless, McKay is still moving up in the polls, not by much, but enough that his opponent is getting concerned and agrees to a debate.

The debate itself is a pretty sad affair, with prepared answers and generic barbs being traded. But right as it’s ending, McKay’s conscience forces him to let out an outburst about how nothing was said in the debate, how none of the real issues such as race and poverty were addressed, and his campaign staff is mortified. This could cost him the election by making him look liked a hot headed nut job, but it’s saved at the last moment as his father shows up and gives him a loud and resounding endorsement, so that the media only reports the reemeergence of the father and not on McKay’s political gaffe.

The day of the election comes and the vote is gotten out. There’s a nice little montage of some of the tactics employed, such as getting the homeless to vote with the promise of free booze, and McKay is left with the fact that he’s completely sold out his values for political victory. I’m going to spoil the ending for you here and tell you that he wins. But it’s a confusing victory and in the movie’s famous last scene, McKay pulls the Peter Boyle character away from everyone else to ask him simply, “What do we do now?” But before Boyle can answer, the throngs of their overjoyous supporters and the excited media show up, hungry for celebration in the heat of their victory and McKay never gets his answer.

The movie could use a remake because of how raw and unpolished it is, but that’s part of what makes it feel so authentic. And it does feel real, with the campaign’s heavy emphasis on image and wealth and almost hated chagrin of substance. It almost feels like it’s painted out a majority of how politics has played out since then (McKay is apparently having an affair with a supporter at one point, just to show that even idealistic men all have vices, it would seem). I remember reading that Redford was considering a sequel/remake back around 2000, but sadly nothing’s come of the talk.

Oh, and Dan Quayle has been quoted as saying that this film is one of the reasons he went into politics.

But then there’s the thesis of the movie: Politics is bullshit. It’s what Redford’s character tells Peter Boyle’s character at the start of the film when he realizes what he wants from him. What do you think? Is politics bullshit? Personally, I’d say yes, it is, but only about 60% of the time. Real, honest change for the better can be accomplished by people who actually want it and strive to make it happen. And by you when you vote. Think your vote is meaningless? Frustrated because yours is just a small drop in a large pond? Well, it is. But you’re still in that pond. It’s still your fault if someone comes and takes a piss in that pond and you don’t do anything to try and stop them. Or, as William E. Simon said, “bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”