Past Prologue: September, 2009 – Part Two.

Continued from Part One.

As I said in the previous post: 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…

And we continue.

18.

09/16/09: Children Are Our Future by Conrad Noir: Linking to the then current Newsweek cover story, “Is Your Baby Racist?” And in the comments section, you’ll see that Peanut St. Cosmo offers a good point on this.

19.

09/17/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus,” by yours truly: I’ve always been fascinated by the Frankenstein story, inside and out. The story itself, the way it’s constantly adapted and how it is, but also with its writer and the creation of the story.

There’s one more post in September of 2009 about this, and I was going to do a whole series of things, just exorcising some of my fascination with everything to do with Mary Shelley and her monster and the connections I was seeing between that and other things I was interested in. The series fell through, obviously, and I never said everything I wanted to say, and sadly, that moment has passed. For now.

But it still interests me, the way we focus all of our frustrations and excitements and failings into the characters and monsters that we create, and then we let them loose into the world. Sometimes those monsters redeem us and sometimes they destroy us. Sometimes they live on long after we’re gone, stuck between the darkness and the light.

20.

09/18/09: Hell Is A Teenage Girl by myself: Speaking of Megan Fox and whoa!-mankind and monsters. Jennifer’s Body was not a great movie, but it was certainly an interesting one. Easily the best possible vehicle for Megan Fox (and for Adam Brody).

21.

09/19/09: Spirits and Sexy Singularities in the Noosphere by myself: This post is so typically me. Honestly, this is the kind of wacky shit that I’m reading about all the time.

It’s just interesting to me now to see discussion of The Lost Symbol turning into Dan Simmon’s The Fall Of Hyperion, then turning into talk of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Omega Point, and a thinly veiled pondering/lusting about 2012.

22.

09/20/09: The Post-Modern Prometheus, part two: Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves,” by yours truly: Again, with the Frankenstein, but also tying into that classic (it is a classic, right?) episode of The X-Files. Otherwise known as “The Cher Episode.”

What can I say? This series, or longer essay, or whatever you want to call it, was going to start small and then get bigger. Instead, it just stayed small. The lack of further movement on it really betrayed its connective tissue.

23.

09/21/09: American Jokes Are Better Than British Jokes,” by August Bravo and myself: Ha ha. This was a great episode of Mad Men. Ahhh, the tractor episode. The British are coming, they came, and then they left, and they left part of their feet behind.

Also, August Bravo is barely hiding his desire to be physically dominated by Ken Cosgrove here.

24.

09/22/09: There Are Two Kinds Of Light,” by myself: More links, interesting quotes, and pretty pictures. The light that glows, and the light that blinds: that’s interesting, and charming wisdom from Thurber.

Part of why I started with this month to look back on first is that it’s September, just like it is now, here in 2012 as I write this, but also because it was just a little over a year after the blog had started. You’d think we’d have found our legs a little, kicked off some of the training wheels, for example. In intrigues me to notice that when Counterforce was really rolling, there was always two kinds of themes to each month, as if each month was its own issue of a magazine or some kind of periodical: the theme that was intended, and the one that was unintended.

I know, I know, that’s some hardcore Wittgenstein-like wisdom there.

25.

09/23/09: Because It Needs To Be Said,” by me: Well… yeah. What’s said is here is as true in 2012 as it was in 2009, only more so, I guess. Enough said.

26.

09/24/09: PSA by me: Whatever. Cthulhu is funny to me. We create our monsters to embody that which we most find fault within ourselves, and then those monsters proceed to drive us insane and enslave humanity and collapse reality upon itself. It’s just one of those things.

27.

09/25/09: Just because we saw this show doesn’t mean it has to happen,” by myself: I wonder how similar me ranting about the pilot to Flashforward is to Benjie ranting about the pilot to Revolution.

Neither of these shows is or was the new Lost, and I think that’s important to say because clearly the ghost of Lost still haunts network TV. They were trying to resurrect it with Lost even before the show was officially over.

I remember reading Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, Flash Forward, and thinking it was interesting, even if it was a little weak. There were certainly elements there to create an interesting TV show out of it, but David Goyer and the rest of the show’s makers clearly avoided those parts altogether. Instead Flashfoward the TV show plays out like the most pathetic of all Sideways Universes, in which Charlie and Penny Widmore are still out there somewhere, and things are just really, really mediocre.

28.

09/26/09: Cosmic Caturday.” Meow.

29.

09/27/09: It’s only a matter of time before we all burn by myself: I really like that Death Cab song, and it’s interesting how music can transform and transport you. In this case, a song took me back to a place that I used to live in, one that only exists in my memories now, and was on fire.

Also, this was back when Benjamin Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel were still married, LOL.

30.

09/28/09: Maybe I’m late because I was spending time with my family reading the bible,” by that fucker August Bravo and myself: Again, it’s just weird to me to relive this season of Mad Men through these posts as I look back at them. The show was always so good about the connection between and identity and a name, about crossing boundaries, and playing with all of those things at the same time.

And Don’s always been very hard on Peggy, hasn’t he? Telling her what he’s needed to hear, as if he’s fully recreated himself within her. I’m looking forward to how they keep her character integrated into this show as it continues, but that’s the future, and that’s another place, especially when we’re talking about the past.

31.

09/29/09: Perennial with the Earth by myself: I really liked this ad campaign, or at least, it stuck with me as a piece of art, beyond it’s creation as a piece of advertisement. The perfect marriage of Walt Whitman, jeans, and the “idea” of America.

32.

09/29/09: Things that make you say, hmm…?” by the always amazing Peanut St. Cosmo: Roman Polanski and Woody Allen. Someone should remake My Dinner With Andre just starring those two guys. Maybe it could be directed by Peanut St. Cosmo, who is always sorely missed when she’s not appearing in Counterforce.

33.

09/30/09: Eternities Of Darkness by myself: The month ends like it began, with links and pictures. But now there’s men and women, pictures in black and white, and words by Nabokov. The continuation of that quote, which is from Speak, Memory, is: “Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour.)”

As I’ve said before, my favorite band name (but certainly not my favorite band) is I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, which is just a great name.

And that’s how this month, September in 2009, ended, with us declaring our love for you (perhaps), and abandoning the light for a time to sail away into the darkness.

* * *

I enjoyed doing this, so I think I’m going to do a few more retrospectives of other months in the history of this blog before it becomes permanently just that: History. Again, I don’t think I have the time, space, nor total desire to do every single month, but at least a few more, if I can help, and quite a few more, if the universe is kind. Any suggestions for which month to look back on next?

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Who is Natalie Portman fucking these days?

Came across this gem on the internetz the other day:

Oh, that gave me quite the chuckle.

And, from that, I have some points to share with you, all of them only barely related to each other…

1. The other day, while speaking to Benjie, I was just bullshitting and joking around, as I am wont to do, and I retorted to something or other that I should start a single serving website called Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?

I think I actually called it Who Is Natalie Portman Dating Now? in that conversation, but let’s get right to the bottom of it: No one cares who you’re dating. Or, if they do, that’s only half as interesting who you’re actually fucking.

2. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. They’re still married. They have stayed married for five years past what the expiration date on that joke should’ve been. Congrats! You’re boring celebrities! But now we find out that he’s fucking around or perhaps they’re in an open relationship, whatever. Whoever you’re walking down a red carpet with will always pale in comparison to who you’re rubbing your genitals on. Of course we wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Right?

1, continued: Meanwhile, Natalie Portman has certainly had an eclectic dating history. I don’t know all of it, which is probably a good thing, but Moby, for one. When I heard about that way back in the day I thought, “Well, great, that’s when I reach for my revolver. Ha ha. Bad joke, sorry.

But she also dated Devendra Banhart, which is… Well, regardless of whatever it is, that’s a thing that happened.

Perhaps she dated Hayden Christensen, an actor of dubious charm, too. I remember that was rumored around when they were filming the Star Wars prequels.

Though, again, were they dating or were they just killing time together while stuck in Australia spending hours and hours surrounded by green screen on movie sets? You can hardly fault an actor for the sexual shenanigans they get up to while filming a movie down under, methinks.

Also, Jude Law. Maybe. Face it, straight dudes, whoever that young ingenue that you have a masturbatory fantasy about, well, Jude Law’s probably gotten there first.

And, possibly Sean Penn. That’s weird, and kind of sad, but I’m not one to judge. At least it’s not Mickey Rourke, you know.

Some fashion designer/former male model or a British millionaire. Or Ryan Gosling or Gael García Bernal. Who cares? Those are less than tremendous choices for an inamorata.

John Mayer. Let’s just be thankful that, as far as I know, she hasn’t gone down this street yet. Thank God. That’s the kind of dead end that far too many cars have ran out of gas on or broken down on. I sincerely apologize for comparing women to cars in that metaphor.

But, speaking of John Mayer, there are a lot of things Natalie Portman is: a competent and incredibly inspiring actor that’s fun to watch, an Academy Award nominee, a good role model, a Harvard graduate, Jewish, someone with an Erdős-Bacon number, a director, a producer, a democrat, a vegan, a fashion designer (she has her own line of vegan shoes), a nonbeliever in the afterlife (good for you, Nat), someone whose birth name is Hershlag, an outstanding spokesperson and fundraiser for many fine organizations and causes around the world, a friend of Lukas Haas, a fan of NBC”s new hit comedy, Outsourced, and fluent in Japanese, German, French, and Arabic.

And thankfully there are a lot of things that Natalie Portman is not and one of those Jennifer Aniston.

And, of course, I made up the part about her liking Outsourced. Nobody likes that show.

I just typed “Natalie Portman” and “boyfriend” into google the other day and was informed that she is presumably currently dating a professional ballet dancer.

3. I really want to see Black Swan. It looks interesting and kind of b-movie cheesy brilliant. That perfect sweet spot where artsy films meet b-movie plots and Roman Polanski-esque level creepiness (I’m referring of course to the director’s movies, which I’m a fan of, and now his IRL creepiness).

4. Benjie Light and I were discussing that the other night and ruminating on what a poor year it’s been for movies. Also, we were kind of upset that we find ourselves having to say that thing every single year, it seems.

But 2010 has especially been strange since it seems like The Social Network, which is a fine, solid movie, will probably have serious Oscar potential (certainly Best Adapted Screenplay, but I’m talking Best Picture here too, party people)  just because we’re not going to have a lot of just stupendously great movies to nominate. Black Swan will probably be there somewhere in the Best Picture nominees too, I bet.

That said, I’d still prefer to see Aronofsky doing Superman rather than Zack Snyder, but that’s also kind of like saying I’d like to keep typing rather than sticking my hand in a blender, I know.

from here.

5. Because of The Social Network (and it’s strong success), I think a lot of blogs are having to step back and get a little meta maybe and also start thinking about the story of themselves. The amateurs map themselves onto the percieved personas of your Mark Zuckerberg/Jesse Eisenbergs and your Eduardo Saverin/Andrew Garfield/Peter Parkers, but that’s something you do after running around in the yard and peeing on plants and right before it’s naptime.

The big leagues is analyzing yourself, really getting into the dark and nasty places of your own blog/website, the twisted nitty gritty of your own origins, and pondering who’ll play you when your story of internet conquest hits the big screen.

Seriously, blogs o’ the interwebz, I am posing that question to you.

Benjie Light and I were contemplating that the other day ourselves. In a fucked up scorched earth production of the Counterforce story, we’d probably cast Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau as ourselves. But that’d be just so we could be dicks to each other about it.

Or, the recession era variation of that casting would probably be Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, I guess. And directed by Ron Howard. Ugh.

6. And Jeff Goldblum as Occam Razor.

7. And Kristen Stewart as Peanut St. Cosmo.

8. No, I’m just kidding about that. I wouldn’t even presume to guess at who could capture the bold essence of either Peanut or Maria, nor do I want to risk my testicles in the gambit of making a choice they’re not pleased with. They know who should play them far better than I could ever hope to guess, I imagine. That is, of course, if they’re too busy to not play the parts themselves.

9. But if they don’t comment on my fucking post then I swear to God I’ll combine them into one amalgamation character as played by Christine Hendricks!

10. You could probably cast any old twink as August Bravo. As long as they smell like straight up mayonnaise (that’s an inside joke that you don’t really want to nor need to get too inside on, believe me). Or maybe his favorite character on Mad Men (see above)? Or maybe one of Will Smith’s kids?

11. And, August Bravo, before you even say it…

…trust me, it could be worse. It could be Vince Vaughn playing you.

12. That said, I’ll say this in defense of Vince Vaughn: He’s probably the hardest working actor in that particularly bleak game of comedy films these days. Unlike the Owen Wilsons of the world, Vaughn is the long distance runner in this game. Just look at a sleazy guy like Bradley Cooper and tell me that you honestly think he’s got Vaughn’s stamina at this shit. No fucking way. That said, I’d say that Vince Vaughn is a lot like Magic Johnson in that he’s not necessarily great on his own, but he’s a great team player. If you pass him the ball in a really interesting way, then he’ll do something extra interesting when he shoots for the basket. And a little sleazy, as that’s the default of where his comedy riffage always seems set at (but still feeling classier than your average Bradley Cooper… anything). If he’s got no one to work with then it’s just a sad study in a man running up and down the court while dribbling.

13. Extreme side note there: I feel like every time I see a picture of Winona Ryder now, I’d describe the look on her face as if you had literally just caught her in the act of shoplifting.

14. In conclusion: Going back to point #1, Vince Vaughn, thank you for not being John Mayer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotten pretty fucking close to that territory more than few times, but you’ve still yet to fully cross that line and we appreciate it. I don’t think I could quite believe you as the romantic companion of Natalie Portman, but then again, I’ll believe just about anything these days.

Tales told by an idiot…

So, yesterday I was thinking about the idea of “today” and today is yesterday’s tomorrow and you could really go on with that kind of talk forever. And it gets you thinking, every single yesterday and today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

And of course I’m talking about the soliloquy from Act 5, scene 5 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. You know, that thing they made you memorize back in high school. The scene itself is brilliant, starting with Macbeth learning of his wife’s death and followed by the news that his enemies are fast approaching and that the prophecy that will end him is unfolding before his eyes, but there in that brief moment, Macbeth has some time to himself alone in his own ruin, and he can wax on with resignation and anger about the dreaded continuation of life, the despair and the agony and the lack of choices we get, and the futility of it all. Death comes. It always comes. But it’s left up to debate if Macbeth is possibly choosing his own death right then and there.

In fact, that was the nice thing about how we have Shakespeare’s plays now, so lacking of most stage directions, leaving them open to a vast majority of interpretations. And when you’re thinking about tomorrow, whether you’re dreading it or eagerly looking forward into it’s complicated winds, the last thing you want is anything written in stone, right? Things should always be open, breezy, the path changing along with you…

Anyway, some videos. Above is Ian McKellen tackling the role in 1978 (with Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth) and the soliloquy and below is Jon Finch doing it in Roman Polanski’s 1971 adaptation (with Francesca Annis as a younger, softer, more determined Lady Macbeth [who did her sleepwalking soliloquy – “Out, damned spot!” – in the nude]). They’re obviously differently staged since Polanski’s is an actual film treatment of the play and McKellen is starring in a TV adaptation of Trevor Nunn’s run with the play, but McKellen’s just absolutely seething and nearly exploding with presence and Finch just looks like a guy doing a bit of acting after a few rough weeks or maybe a bender or two. To me, anyway. But while watching the video above, I got a little bit of a flashback to James Marster’s peformance as Spike on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I wonder if the works of young Ian McKellen informed Marster’s English impression/accent? Or maybe that’s just me too.

And, because I find it interesting, below I give you Sir Patrick Stewart (with something of a porn star mustache) giving you a little advice on how to perform the “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech just as it was given to him by McKellen. I think it’s interesting that they both stress that the word to be emphasized is and.

“And I just can’t contain this feeling that remains…”

Five things. And then we’ll call it a day/weekend, okay?

1. As someone so wisely pointed out to me  yesterday, it’s all about perspective:

Right? Right. Also by that insane bastard, Chip Zdarsky, whom was mentioned here the other day.

2. This:

from here.

Ha ha, that’s for you, Benjamin Light.

I will agree that woven through some of the negative reviews for Sex And The City 2 has been a not too subtle undercurrent of sexism, but that’s not to say that some of the reviews haven’t been accurate in how terrible the movie appears to be. I say “appears to be,” of course, because I haven’t seen it and I hated the first movie. And as Fern Diaz points out, whatever the series used to be about or mean to it’s fanbase, it doesn’t seem to mean that anymore, does it?

3. This:

4. The other day I had a moment to Crowded House’s gorgeous 80s masterpiece of a song, “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” and today I had a similar experience – well, sort of – to another magnificent pop ditty from the same decade…

That’s “There She Goes” by the La’s and I defy you to not get that stuck in your head now. I defy you! And if you do get it stuck on endless repeat, it’ll be okay, because it’s just a lovely song, whether it be about an actual girl or heroin or whatever, it’s all kind of the same, yes?

What makes it weird is that, just like “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” that song was also covered by Sixpence None The Richer. So weird.

5. The other day when mentioning the Chip Zdarksy BP oil spill/The Little Mermaid art mash up, I was also listening just a tiny smattering of the “classic” movies you could (currently) find on Hulu. Well, after further poking around, here’s just a few more: Motherfucking Gandhi, Dr. Who And The Daleks (the non-canonical Peter Cushing movie), The Boys And Girls’ Guide To Getting Down (well, Lola, if you’re moving to LA, then this is the movie you need to watch immediately), Bowling For Columbine, Night Of The Living Dead (the original, thank God), loudQUIETloud: A Film About The Pixies, Shredder (a terrible, but silly horror movie about snow boarders), Hubert Selby, Jr.: I’ll Be Better Tomorrow, Peeping Tom, Charade, The Last Man On Earth, Phantom Of The Opera, The Dead Zone, His Girl Friday, Roman Polanski’s Knife In The Water, The End Of The Affair, Richard Lester’s The Knack… And How To Get It, and, if you can believe it, Nic Cage’s seminal classic, Vampire’s Kiss. Just watch the collection of clips below and then tell me you don’t want to watch that immediately…

Defense mechanisms of the criminally insane.

I want to muse a bit about Shutter Island here.

Bear with me though. Let’s break it down to… oh, shall we say, “No Spoilers” and “Spoilers,” something like that?

No Spoilers.

The movie starts like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, wandering out of the fog and into our lives. Or, rather, it starts with a boat, coming towards us out of the fog, and heading towards the island of the movie’s title. On that boat is Dicaprio, hunched over, vomiting his brains out.

The plot is simple: It’s 1954, and Dicaprio is a US Marshal, working for the first time with a new partner, played by Mark Ruffalo. They’re on their way to Shutter Island, home of a hospital for the nation’s most criminally insane. One of the inmate/prisoners has escaped, seemingly vanished into thin air (no, not vanished, more like “evaporated,” just like water would), and the marshals are there to find her. And, of course things are not what they seem…

The first scene there on the boat, as Dicaprio walks onto the deck and meets his new partner tells us so much about the movie we’re about to get. It literally plunges us into the motifs we’ll see over and over again and informs us that we’re in the playground of both paranoid noir and the best kind of playing homage, the one that sparks originality.

Dicaprio is a man haunted by a past that we see in flashbacks, both to his life with his wife, played simply and straightforwardly by Michelle Williams, and before that, to his time in World War II, and his part in liberating Dachau and witnessing both man’s cruelty to man after the fact and during the cold, violent act itself.

That opening scene, which I need to return to again for just one more paragraph, still amazes me. It’s so simplistic, feeling at first almost like an SNL quality of production for a Casablanca scene, or something in which somebody like Humphrey Bogart could actually appear in. Everything, this scene tells us, is going to be about water, something you can drown or be drowned in, immersed in, or it’s going to be about fire, ash, the dark nuclear future on the horizon, and the smoke which, like the fog, is going to surround you, and you’re not only going to get lost in, you’re going to lose yourself.

That’s heavy, I know.

The downside of this movie is that it’s way too long. The way a nightmare feels too long, but the pacing is expert. And it’s simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Scorsese is trying new things, the paranoid thriller, working effectively in a field where, like we’ve said, someone like Polanski really excels in. And Scorsese, ever the master, ever the craftsman and lover of film, knows what he’s doing. You’re going to sit there and you’re going to be drugged and unnerved because that’s what he wants from you.

But with the mechanics of your typical hysterical thriller hokum, the creepy staircases, the rain and lightning, the darkened hallways, Scorsese takes you places. He takes you to the Holocaust, gliding effortlessly into memories that intersect with the present, and into the place where your memories walk away like nightmares and lie to you. Somewhat like the “twists” and “turns” of the movie, which at times come out of nowhere,  and other times lead you down phony paths that may actually be the real one.

Unshockingly, when Dicaprio’s character gets to the island and gets the lay of the land in the first ten to fifteen minutes, and then gets a headache, one that requires the head doctor, played both creepily and both perfect genuine smarm by Ben Kingsley, to give him an asprin, you automatically assume that Dicaprio’s character is being drugged. Your cinephile instincts just tell you that immediately…

And they’re right, but not totally in the way you’re assuming. From that moment on, the movie is a drug.

You’re absolutely living in the character’s frustrations and fears and paranoia.

To me, The Others was a perfect creepy movie for a crowd. I first watched it with a group of people, none of us having ever seen it before and we were freaked out, but we were enthralled. That same sense of rapture is present here, but this is not a crowd movie, not to me. You need to see it in the theater because there it’s big and loud and gorgeous, but it feels so solitary. Once this film starts and that boat punches through the white vaporous fog, you’re alone. And even if you weren’t, you can’t be sure that person sitting next to you is real anyway.

And the acting is serviceable throughout. Sadly, more than what the actors give in performance, they give in appearance. The period-ness of this picture is perfect through and through. Dicaprio, whom my fingers keep wanting to mistype as “Dicrapio” gives everything he has: the angry guy, the tough guy, the sad, hurt child. Nothing with charisma or nuance, though. In the beginning of this movie, he almost feels like he’s regressed (ha ha, spoilers) back to where he was in the beginning of Revolutionary Road, still feeling like, as Natasha Vargas-Cooper put it so brilliantly: it feels like you’re watching “a high school actor, a very fine one, play Hamlet.”

I’m still curious what Scorsese gets out of their partnership, but somewhat akin to The Departed, the thing that Dicaprio best conveys to this story: The need, the crazy reaches for survival. In his hands, you think you’re wanting to grab yourself some understanding, seeking out truth and trying to get to the bottom of a mystery, but really, you’re just trying to survive to the conclusion.

SPOILERS.

Seriously, if you didn’t see that “twist” coming in some form or another, then… well, I don’t want to be mean here, but I’m assuming you were born yesterday and this was the first film you’ve ever seen, right?

I mean, of course Dicaprio was going to be an inmate himself and the film was going to be his emotional quest to discover something for himself, an emotional plateau and on it, possibly a chance at redemption or acceptance?

And Mark Ruffalo, doesn’t he always play not just a cop, but kind of a son of a bitch? I was talking to someone about that after the movie and she was confused. “Does he always play a cop?” she asked. I just smiled and said, “You should go watch In The Cut. Really. You should.” But in all seriousness, a minor note I’d make about Ruffalo’s performance: Something about his facial expressions throughout the first half… They just felt so perfect with the period to me.

Will the lighthouse become that new piece of terrifying imagery?

I’m curious what people will think of this movie after the fog of it’s release settles. This isn’t necessarily an award winning movie, but it’s solid, completely. It’s made by a master and the cast is more than capable and game.

And the ending? It’s sinister. It’s devastating. It takes a moment to realize what’s going on there, and it’s dark and it’s human and it’s all Dicaprio. It’s a man making a decision, whether to live a certain way or die another way, and I think it’s a division that resonates when you walk out of the theater. Some people will hate this movie and I want to say something about them not being lovers of American cinema, or just the art of making movies at all, and some people will walk out of this film, still thinking about it, carrying a bit of it with them for a while, jumping at and questioning the shadows that appear as you just try to grab hold of something real out there in the fog.

The Nightmare Child.

The following is an excerpt from an actual conversation between Conrad Noir and Marco Sparks last night. Yes, this is what they’re really like…

Marco Sparks: So, you’ll never believe this dream I had the other night…

Conrad Noir: I don’t know if I’m really up for a conversation about your hopes and dreams, man.

Marco: Well, when I say “dream,” what I really mean is sweaty, dread-dripping nightmare.

Conrad: Oh yeah? Shit. Nevermind. You know I’m all ears for that. Shoot.

Marco: Well, I’ll tell you about the nightmare in a second, but first let me tell you about my Saturday night…

Conrad: Always a catch, isn’t there? Shit. Okay, tell me about your Saturday ni-

Marco: It was awesome. But then, later on, I was just trying to go sleep, right? And it’s late, I don’t remember the time, but late. So I turn on the TV and put it on mute, just wanting some flickering light and alpha wave manipulation in the room. Or something.

Conrad: Sure, sure. Perfectly normal.

Marco: So then I lay down on the bed. The room I’m in though, there’s no remote. Or, if there is, fuck if I know where it is.

Conrad: Oh, yeah, man’s constant struggle.

Marco: Right, so I’m stuck with whatever the channel is because, well, I’m lazy.

Conrad: I feel that.

Marco: In this particular case, it was A&E. The former Arts & Entertainment channel.

Conrad: “Former” being the operative word.

Marco: Seriously. Airing that late evening/early morning was a seeming non stop marathon of CSI: Miami episodes.

Conrad: Wow. Ouch.

Marco: Ouch is right. And let me tell you, I could not sleep with that on.

Conrad: How do you mean?

Marco: Every five seconds they cut back to a shot of David Caruso! Constantly! And let me tell you, Caruso has two emotional speeds on that show. The first: Putting on his sunglasses. The second: Taking them off again. People could be on fire, running around screaming, bits of their skin melting off or whatever as creatures of the apocalypse commit homicides or devour souls or just what have you, and Caruso’s cool as Fonzie the whole fucking time.

Conrad: That seems accurate with the little bits of it I’ve caught occasionally.

Marco: Also, it’s freakishly bright. Like, too bright and dayglo for even Miami.

Conrad: Okay.

Marco: It would not let me sleep! I turned over, looked at the flickering light patterns on the wall, like some kind of twisted variation on Plato’s Cave and I felt like Caruso was picking me up from the airport and driving me straight to madness!

Conrad: Caruso’s like that.

Marco: This is the guy from NYPD Blue who subjected America to his ass. Why would you want to see this man’s ass?!

Conrad: Or Dennis Franz for that matter.

Marco: Well… obviously. But, so I lay there, squeezing my eyes shut. But it was no good, man. I knew that Caruso was in the room with me. Putting his fucking sunglasses on. Or worse.

Conrad: Worse?

Marco: He could’ve been taking them off again…

Conrad: Okay, so this was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, no, this was real. Deadly real. Eventually I must’ve passed out from all the stress of his ontological torture and when I woke up, of course, A&E was still on, right?

Conrad: Yeah, of course.

Marco: So, the sun is shining through the window, birds are chirping little songs and I’m a little tired, but I’m breathing a sigh of relief. I’m all like, “Thank God, it’s morning, I made it. I survived!”

Conrad: This is going somewhere bad, isn’t it?

Marco: You bet your goofy ass it is, my friend. Because there on the TV…

Conrad: Yeah?

Marco: Motherfucking Chris Daughtry was on the TV. Somebody was actually interviewing him!

Conrad: Ugh. Gross.

Marco: Exactly! Why would anyone want to interview that fucker? Why is he on the TV? Why did my day have to start with these violent images? It was like… last night I couldn’t enter the domain of sleep and now… Now I can’t be awake with this in the world!

Conrad: I feel like I need a drink now.

Marco: Me too. From just, you know, reliving that traumatic experience. From being the plaything of the sandman.

Conrad: So what was the nightmare?

Marco: Oh, the nightmare. Yeah, sorry. That was last night. I was like in a room, but I wasn’t. I was like “the camera” or whatever. Anyway, there was a little boy and he was trapped in the room. No windows, yet there was moonlight slipping around. And he was sleeping like a little shit does and then goblins crawled out of the cracks in the walls and out from under the bed and cut off his eyelids or something.

Conrad: Damn. I like that. I mean, that’s seriously creepy.

Marco: Yeah, it was something. When I woke up, I knew you’d love it.

Conrad: You were right. And goblins, you say? Wow. Goblins. That part is especially wild. People don’t throw around the word “goblins” all that much anymore.

Marco: Let me tell you something about goblins, my friend. Something you may not know. Something very few people may actually know.

Conrad: Do it.

Marco: Goblins, man. They’re no joke. They’re fucking scary, and they’re fucked up. And they will fuck you up. You understand me?

Conrad: Yes, I believe I do. But let’s talk about something important now. Let’s talk about me and my dreams. And my nightmares.

Marco: Take aim and fire away, baby.

Conrad: So, you know, I’ve been taking melatonin a lot lately, right?

Marco: Cause you can’t get your hands on ambien, right?

Conrad: Yeah, sorta. I got tricked into trying to go all natural, which is a sham. Whenever in doubt, just go with hard drugs.

Marco: Put that on a t-shirt.

Conrad: Don’t tempt me.

Marco: But I feel you. I have several friends who don’t realize they’re becoming recreational vicodin addicts, which is cool, cause this is America and shit. But I can’t do that stuff anymore. It gives me freaky nightmares. I mean, genuinely freaky nightmares. Like, where the goblins show up and tell me I’ll have erectile dysfunction for the rest of my life and or will be forever locked in a mortgage I can’t afford.

Conrad: As long as you’re not longer dreaming about Avril Lavigne, you’ll be fine.

Marco: I’ll have you know: That was a very special time in my life.

Conrad: Anyway… me. And my nightmare.

Marco: Do it.

Conrad: So, I guess you’re supposed to take melatonin only so much, right? Until it stirs up your… well, I don’t know. Something. Some kind of chemical. I’m not a trained doctor or anything. But you take it short term, you get some rest, you move on.

Marco: Gotcha.

Conrad: But I keep taking it because it gives me juicy nightmares. And I’m a horror movie fan.

Marco: I remember that you were a Freddy guy more than a Jason guy.

Conrad: Exactly! Anyway, so the one I had last night… Wowza.

Marco: Oh?

Conrad: Oh yeah. So I’m like wandering around in this fucked up, dark version of Chuck E. Cheese’s, right?

Marco: This already sounds terrifying.

Conrad: Oh, it was. Believe you me. It so was. And there’s all these fat, sweaty white people around me.

Marco: Your ultimate nightmare.

Conrad: My ultimate daymare, you mean. But there they are. And there’s famous gross white people there too. Like Jeffrey Dahmer.

Marco: I remember that Peanut used to date a guy who looked like Jeffrey Dahmer. Man, I hated that guy.

Conrad: Me too. Well, Dahmer, anyway. But he was the guy who, later on I discovered, didn’t belong in the dream. But there was other famous people too. Like Mary Kay Letourneau. And Roman Polanski. And Joey Buttafuoco. And Debra Lafave. And Pete Townshend. And Bobby Fisher. And Gary Glitter!

Marco: Oh shit. You were at a child molester convention!

Conrad: Exactly. By accident, of course. Once I realized what was going on, I was like, “Oh shit, I gotta get the fuck outta here!”

Marco: Shit. I hope so.

Conrad: So I take off for the door, right? But right as I get to it, I notice the little bulletin board listing who all the speakers are going to be at this thing.

Marco: So, it was like a proper convention then? With speakers and talks and things?

Conrad: Yes! Terrifying, right?

Marco: Very.

Conrad: So I’m running my finger down the board, just looking at all the famous names. I remember that R. Kelly was on there, of course.

Marco: Right. Yeah. “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” after all.

Conrad: And then I get to the end. The keynote speaker.

Marco: Ooh, this is going to be good, isn’t it? Who was it?

Conrad: I’m not bullshitting you here. It was Jon Gosselin.

Marco: Oh… wow.

Conrad: I know, right?

Marco: Yeah. Wow. Eeesh.

Conrad: But, whereas everyone else had their name and like a title of what their speech was going to be about or whatever, after his name… there was just one word. One single word.

Marco: What was it?

Conrad: It was simply… “Gangsta.”

Marco: Oh. My.

Conrad: Uh huh. It shocked me away. And I sat there, in my bed, just catching my breath from the sheer intensity of the thing. And I just whispered it back to myself. “Gangsta.”

Marco: Wow…

Conrad: Yeah, I know.

Marco: Yeah.

Conrad: Yeah.

Marco: Yeah, uh… let’s talk about something else, okay?

Suck it, bloggery.

My two favorite quotes of the day:

“Having a free online ‘printing press’ doesn’t turn you into a journalist anymore than your laser printer did.”

and

“Citizen journalists are almost as good as citizen dentists.”

…both come from a funny little thing here about “saving journalism,” and while I don’t fully agree with the criticism of bloggers/blogging/bloggery, I do find it funny. Personally, an insecure girl in middle America who takes naughty photos of herself and writes online about her secret fantasies and finds that her medium is the internet, not verbal communication with the “real world,” is just as worthy of internetting as a licensed and certifiable hipster who writes about bands that have more novelty value than listenability. But everything is different for everyone and the world/the internet/reality is a big enough sandbox for all. If you read the internet, read what you read. If you write on the internet, write what you write. Journalism will live or die as it needs to.

Though that “citizen dentists” line is still hilarious to me, sorry.

You know, I pretty much slept through the entire balloon boy story today, but it sounds like it was really interesting for a few minutes. Like a childhood fantasy gone crraazzzy. For the kid, I mean. As a new story, it seems kind of annoying.

What Whoopi Goldberg, Harvey Weinstein, etc. are saying in their outrage over the arrest of Roman Polanski.

Oh, and following in the illustrious footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and… Ben Affleck, the new Captain Kirk is Jack Ryan.

from here.